Dubai is set to become home to the world’s largest wholesale market.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday unveiled plans for a Dh30 billion Dubai Wholesale City.
The 550 million square feet market to be built close to the city’s new Al Maktoum International Airport, will house more than 15,000 traders from many different countries and specialised integrated trading parks as well as an international trade exhibition facility.
Dubai Holding will develop the mega-project, which will take about 10 years to fully complete and will provide a forum for buying and selling wholesale commodities including food, construction materials, electrical appliances, electronics, furniture and decor, machinery, equipment, wood, vehicles and spare parts, and textiles and clothing.
According to the government news agency Wam, the project will include commercial centres and malls stocking products from countries including India, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Australia, China, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the US and South America.
It will also include the world’s largest e-commerce platform, Wam said.
The developer said the project would “revolutionise” global wholesale trade – where businesses sell to other businesses rather than directly to consumers – by using smart technology and “the world’s best logistics support”.
Designed as part of Dubai’s strategic plan to reduce its economic dependence on oil, Dubai Holding said that the hub would serve as an international trade exhibition facility and provide wholesale traders with facilities including state-of-the-art infrastructure, roads, warehousing, storage facilities and support services.
“Our aim is to build a sustainable national economy. Dependency on oil was never a choice and we will not bind our future to it,” said Sheikh Mohammed during the official launch.
“The UAE’s strategic location, world-class infrastructure and strong institutions make it the most qualified place to lead the new wave of growth in wholesale trade, on an international scale.”
And globally wholesale trade is a big deal. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the global sector was valued at US$4.3 trillion last year and expected to grow 12 per cent to $4.9tn by 2019.
Matthew Green, the head of research at CBRE’s Dubai office, said that at present the entire area around Al Maktoum airport and Dubai South had not yet gained critical mass.
“The airport very much feels like a second airport and it is still a challenge to encourage occupiers to think of relocating out there.
“From a commercial point of view the area is not there yet.
“It definitely needs something else to add to the equation,” said Mr Green.
“Trade is already one of the biggest drivers of the Dubai economy, and so it makes sense for the Dubai government to attempt to expand that with this sort of development.”
He added: “Even at the moment with the oil price low, the government needs to press ahead with these plans and to think up new ways to keep the economy growing.
They can’t afford to stand still or competitors will start to close the gap.”
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