Dubai’s Hala China signs pact with Samanea to attract Chinese SMEs

China accounted for 7% of total foreign direct investment in Dubai last year

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Ibrahim Hussain Ahli, Director of Investment Promotion Department, Dubai FDI at the Hala China and Samanea Conference at Godolphin Ballroom, Emirates Towers.  Leslie Pableo for The National for Alkesh Sharma's story.
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Singapore-based Samanea has joined hands with Hala China to increase the presence of Chinese small- and medium-sized enterprises in Dubai - which is currently home to nearly 3,000 Chinese companies.

The Hala China initiative, jointly launched by property developers Meraas and Dubai Holding last year, aims to enhance economic and cultural exchange between Dubai and China.

“Our collaboration with Samanea builds on Hala China’s efforts to strengthen Dubai’s commitment towards the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, chairman of the board of directors at Hala China.

“We are confident that it will open new avenues for reinforcing trade ties.”

Samanea, which connects manufacturers with international retailers and consumers, is active in the UAE, US, Australia, Canada and Thailand. Hala China and Samanea also organised The Big C Forum in Dubai, which aimed to build a platform for Chinese businesses to connect with government entities and companies in the Emirates.

Ibrahim Hussain Ahli, director of Investment Promotion Department at Dubai FDI, exhorts Chinese companies to look beyond oil and explore trade opportunities in unconventional fields such as retail, hospitality, digital transformation, manufacturing, logistics and storage.

“Oil contributes only 2 per cent in the Dubai’s annual GDP [gross domestic product] and the rest goes to other sectors. Retail and hospitality are big - by 2020, Dubai is aiming to attract nearly 20 million visitors,” said Mr Ahli, adding that Dubai needs to construct more hotels to accommodate visitors, presenting opportunities for Chinese businesses.

From Dubai, if you travel within a five-hour radius, you reach 2.4 billion consumers, which is very important for Chinese companies who want to expand, export and grow their business, said Mr Ahli.

In the last few months, Hala Dubai has partnered with several government entities and companies in the UAE and China to organise events such as Chinese Film Week in Dubai and the China and Arab Intercity Culture and Tourism Forum.

In 2018, China has been Dubai’s largest trade partner for the fifth consecutive year and bilateral trade was around $38 billion, said Tan Li, acting consul general at the Consular General of China in Dubai. As the fourth largest investor, investment from China accounted for 7 per cent of foreign direct investment in Dubai last year.