DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, has created an arm to promote Dubai as a centre for multinational companies to set up high-value business operations including headquarters, centres of excellence, finance and treasury hubs.
The Global Business Corporation (GBC) aims to attract high-growth large companies to the emirate to promote it as an international business hub and a gateway to the region's fast-growing markets, DP World said at the launch event.
“Dubai’s location provides fast access to growing markets in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the CIS. With the growth of manufacturing in this region, our air, sea, road and rail infrastructure connect Dubai to markets all over the world,” Sultan bin Sulayem, chairman and chief executive of DP World, said.
“But we are also fast becoming a city that attracts talent and facilitates business. Dubai is today the … hub if you want to grow.”
Dubai, the Middle East's trade, business and tourism centre, is seeking to attract further foreign investment, highly-skilled talent and create jobs in priority economic sectors such as manufacturing and advanced technology.
The city has modern infrastructure, business-friendly regulations, a competitive new corporate tax regime from June 2023, zero personal income tax, a base for skilled workforce and an attractive lifestyle, all of which make it an ideal place for multinationals, according to GBC.
The entity will focus on companies in sectors including industry, pharmaceuticals, technology and commercial business, Dean Schaffer, business adviser the GBC, said in a panel at the event.
The creation of GBC comes amid an “inflection point” in the global economy, he said.
“It seemed like it was a good time to go to the next level, to have bigger, bolder conversations with these large global companies,” Mr Schaffer said.
DP World's new arm will provide business set-up and licensing services — under a new set of regulations based on the UK's common law — for large companies that want to establish a limited liability entity or branch in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza).
It will also offer “premium” business administration services and opportunities to collaborate with business leaders in Dubai.
Jafza recorded a 19 per cent year on year increase in trade to Dh454.7 billion ($123.8bn) in 2021, as its proximity to Jebel Ali Port and Al Maktoum International Airport helped the free zone facilitate the flow of goods during a challenging year.
It also recorded an increase of nearly 19 per cent in the number of new companies registered last year, bringing the total to more than 9,000.
With companies from 70 countries and a workforce of nearly 8,000, Jafza’s infrastructure and trade volumes attract industries from automotive to e-commerce.
“We’re super busy with the number of enquiries we receive and interest we see from investors all around the world,” Ebtesam Al Kaabi, head of sales at Jafza, said at the panel.
“That's always been the case but it has increased in the past one-and-a-half years. We've seen more companies coming from the US and South America, that's a new market for us honestly, and they're interested in learning about the new taxation regime.”
The government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic gave confidence to international investors about Dubai and the region, she said.
A GBC licence allows foreign or domestic corporate groups to own and operate a business management entity, DP World said.
This permits them to build expertise, regional management capabilities and intellectual property, based on their own strategies, operational needs and capital requirements.
GBC licence holders registered in Jafza can also be used as holding companies.
There is a “new era of opportunity” for businesses to expand in Dubai, DP World said.
With the growing importance of emerging markets and supply chains under pressure, Dubai as a destination for headquarters or a regional hub can “add value and agility”, it said.
“The business world has changed, presenting opportunities for large companies to consider alternative locations when thinking about their strategic growth,” Mohammed Al Muallem, executive vice president of DP World, said.