Non-oil trade at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone hits $80.2 billion in 2016

China kept its position as the free zone’s major player with $11.3 billion worth of non-oil goods, equipment and commodities being shipped in via the Jebel Ali port. (AP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Non-oil trade at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone hits $80.2 billion in 2016

DUBAI: Non-oil trade at Jebel Ali Free Zone rose 17 percent to $80.2 billion (SR300.75 billion) or an equivalent 27.9 million tons in 2016, from 23.9 million tons a year earlier.
China kept its position as the free zone’s major player with $11.3 billion worth of non-oil goods, equipment and commodities being shipped in via the Jebel Ali port; followed by Saudi Arabia with $7 billion; Vietnam with $4.3 billion and the US with $3.7 billion.
Machinery, electronics and electrical goods accounted for almost half of the total trade at Dubai’s main trade and logistics hub, while petrochemicals and the oil and gas sector had 16 percent; followed by food and fast-moving consumer goods at 8 percent; textiles and garments at 7 percent and automotive and spare parts at 6 percent.
“The value and volume of trade through Jafza underlines the strength of the national economy and its ability to adapt to global trading conditions, create investment opportunities and open up new markets to exports from the UAE,” Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the group chairman and chief executive of DP World, said in a statement.
Trade with the Asia Pacific region in 2016 reached $32.4 billion; with the Middle East at $27.2 billion; the European continent at $9.9 billion; the Americas at $5.5 billion and Africa at $5 billion.
“Jebel Ali Port plays a pivotal role in enabling international trade so companies operating in Jafza can import and re-export their goods and products to the various countries of the region,” bin Sulayem said, noting Dubai’s logistics corridor, which connects the port with Al Maktoum International Airport in a single customs zone, helps reduce the sea-to-air time constraint in the movement of goods.
“Reducing the time taken for the movement of goods between sea and air transport modes and making the area the main transit gateway in the Middle East,” he said.


‘Smart’ Dubai banks on blockchain

Updated 17 August 2018
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‘Smart’ Dubai banks on blockchain

  • The Dubai Blockchain Strategy lays out how Dubai will use blockchain to improve government efficiency
  • Blockchain promises to mean no more forlorn trips between government buildings to get the necessary paperwork in order

DUBAI: Blockchain is a technology that is both feared and revered, its potential to rip up the old order — from currencies to law — making it both a threat and an opportunity to long-established industries and institutions.

For Dubai, blockchain offers the promise to become a truly global tech leader, as Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, director general of the Smart Dubai initiative, explained to Arab News.

The Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched in 2016, lays out how Dubai will use blockchain to improve government efficiency, create an entire new industry based on distributed ledger technology and help other cities make similar advances.

Gulf bureaucracy has historically been a source of anguish for citizens and expats alike, the frustrations of obtaining the documentation required to gain access to state-sanctioned services and a local driving license becoming a right-of-passage among the recently arrived.

Such stereotypes are increasingly obsolete, however, as governments turn to technology to streamline processes. Having introduced numerous smart services, Dubai now aims by 2020 to become the first city where all government-related processes run on blockchain. Should Dubai succeed, 100 million documents annually will be transacted digitally, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 114 metric tons and saving 5.5 billion dirhams ($1.5 billion) in administrative costs each year.

 

Blockchain promises to mean no more forlorn trips between government buildings to get the necessary paperwork in order, freeing up 25.1 million hours annually that could be put to better use.

“We want to give people back their time, which is the most valuable thing in life,” said Bishr. “With the realization of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy we will move the role of government to providing happiness to people.”

As Dubai’s economy grew and diversified, the amount of paperwork required to regulate industry mushroomed.

“Simple processes were getting ever more complicated. It was becoming clear there needed to be a giant solution to streamline growth from government processes,” said Bishr. “Governments believed for centuries they were achieving their objectives by fulfilling these transactional roles, which were done through a heavy reliance on manual processes and unnecessary labor and paperwork.”

Government-run Smart Dubai is leading the emirate’s blockchain strategy. Last year, it identified over 20 government use cases for blockchain that have advanced to the proof-of-concept phase.

“Once these are successful, we will roll them out across the city. These cases include daily life experiences, such as leasing or renting property, registering a student in school, obtaining a medical license, and more,” said Bishr.

Smart Dubai believes blockchain can create thousands of private-sector business opportunities in myriad sectors including real estate, health care, transport, energy, retail and financial services. Globally, the blockchain technologies market will be worth $20 billion in 2024, up from $315 million in 2015, according to Transparency Market Research.

Dubai wants to create a homegrown blockchain industry, with this year’s second Smart Dubai Global Blockchain Challenge attracting more than 200 applications from around 85 cities that showcased their best blockchain solutions that can support Dubai in implementing its strategy.

The top 17 entrants were flown to Dubai to present their proposals at the Future Blockchain Summit. In all, this year’s applications covered 53 industries.

“The idea behind this challenge is to stimulate ideas and to support startups to implement their ideas, putting them on a platform where they meet other government entities who want to use blockchain,” said Bishr.

“Several startups who came here last year for the summit have now established their company here and are working with government entities to implement their blockchain solutions.”

Dubai is working with open-source blockchain platform Hyperledger, plus Consensys, which builds programs on the Ethereum blockchain for public and private sector organizations. Consensys, whose clients include GlaxoSmithKline, has opened its Middle East and North Africa headquarters in Dubai.

“We don’t want to be plugged into only one type of blockchain, so we don’t miss any important benefits of the others,” said Bishr. “We need to be an open city with an open standard that accepts any type of technology that will fulfil our needs.”

In May, IBM teamed up with three Dubai government institutions to launch the Dubai Blockchain Business Registry Project, which promises to simplify the process of setting up and operating a business, while Smart Dubai is in talks with IBM and Consensys about building a “plant farm” in the UAE that will host all Dubai’s blockchain applications, said Bishr.

Dubai Future Foundation, chaired by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, launched the Global Blockchain Council in 2016. Today this has around nearly 50 members including du, Microsoft, Cisco, SAP and IBM.

Decoder

What is blockchain?

Feverish speculation in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin brought blockchain into the public eye last year, but what exactly is it and why is it engendering such global excitement? According to Hyperledger, blockchain is cryptography-enabled distributed database with no central authority and no point of trust. “With blockchains, people can establish who they are and then trade items like money, stocks and bonds, intellectual property, deeds, votes, loyalty points, and anything else that has value,” a Hyperledger report said.