The past 10 years have witnessed incredible growth throughout all sectors of the Dubai economy. The emirate’s government is constantly working to improve its commercial transparency and introduce dynamic regulations that aid the formation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and have the ability to react to global financial challenges.
Dubai’s economy is no longer reliant on oil, but is more diversified, relying heavily on trade, services and finance sectors. Dubai has also implemented a strategy to make it the capital of the Islamic economy. The seven strategic directions of Dubai as a global leader in Islamic economy include: Islamic finance; halal food; family friendly tourism, Islamic digital economy;fashion, arts & design; economic education; and Islamic standards & certification. In addition, Dubai has already launched plans to be the global centre for issuance of sukuk (Islamic corporate bonds) and the establishment of an Islamic Governance Centre and the Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking & Finance.
With its central geographic location between Asian and European markets, Dubai has worked hard to establish itself as an integral part of the global trade mechanism. Its central location has also allowed Dubai to become a popular and accessible tourist destination.
The Department of Economic Development has been exceptionally forward-thinking, and is moving towards a more streamlined electronic services system in which most aspects of the business set up process is conducted through the internet.
Dubai’s many free zones are another aspect of the city’s growing economy. Established as a way of attracting more foreign investment, free zones adhere to unique laws regarding ownership, taxation and labour. Unlike businesses in the rest of Dubai, which require at least 51% ownership by a UAE national, free zone businesses can have 100% foreign ownership. Legally, companies based in free zones are considered “offshore” so they are unable to trade within the city without an agent or distributor. Free zones also tend to assist new businesses in the set up process.
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