Dubai Multi Commodities Centre has opened the world's biggest diamond trading floor at the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) housed at the free zone's Almas Tower headquarters.
DMCC, which is Dubai's biggest free zone handling trading of commodities from pulses to diamonds, said the upgraded DDE facility has 41 fully-secured tables with state of the art security and cameras, which are able to host up to 200 buyers at any given time. It will also be able to host multiple tenders for diamond auctions simultaneously.
“The DDE continues to be the ideal partner for industry specialists looking to examine, buy and sell diamonds and precious stones. Over the years, it has gained the support of diamond buyers and sellers through its professional environment, strict regulatory requirements and safety measures, which have allowed it to become one of the most trusted diamond trading floors in the region and beyond,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and chief executive of DMCC.
Dubai has grown in stature as a diamond trading centre over the past decade, taking market share from established centres such as Antwerp, Amsterdam and Chicago. DMCC figures show that $25 billion (Dh91.6bn) worth of diamonds were traded in Dubai in 2018. The overall sale last year was slightly lower than the $28bn traded in 2017 as the the industry took a hit from the introduction of VAT in January, which was eventually lifted on the trade of diamonds and precious metals via a reverse charge mechanism in May 2018.
The emirate, the commercial and trading hub of the Middle East, has seen a gradual increase in diamond trading over the years with virtually no trading of the precious stone in the 1990s. The DDE held tenders with a value of $330 million last year, a 75 per cent increase on 2017. The free zone aims to to become the world's biggest diamond trading hub by 2023.
The new auction facility has been built with white crystal windows to provide the right type of light for potential buyers to assess precious stones. As a result, DDE said it will be able to host auctions for rubies, sapphires and other coloured stones.
“As we move forward, our priority remains to constantly modernise our infrastructure, services and products so that DMCC remains one of the largest and most influential diamond trading hubs in the world. We are confident that housing the world’s largest diamond tender facility will support us in this journey,” Mr Bin Sulayem added.
Dubai's location between the large diamond mines of Africa and the industry's cutting and polishing hub in the Indian city of Surat, where about 90 per cent of the world's rough stones are polished, is an advantage. The emirate is looking to increase it share in what is a tough time for the industry, facing slowing demand from consumers as tastes change and a significant increase in supply of laboratory-created stones.
Last month, De Beers announced a 44 per cent decline in monthly diamond sales, recording $280m in its seventh rough diamond sale of the year. In the previous month, sales were 53 per cent lower at $250m.
The diamond industry trade is also facing a liquidity crunch as some lenders have withdrawn from the market following a number of high-profile fraud cases.