Dubai seeks greater reengagement with Hong Kong

Dubai is looking to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to help it support its fintech, logistics and manufacturing ambitions, according to a senior official from the United Arab Emirates.
Wealth management, fintech, real estate and building on the momentum of its tourism sector’s success are all areas offering opportunities for aspiring investors, said Hadi Badri, CEO of Economic Development at Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).
“This is our first trip (representing) Dubai’s Economy and Tourism in Hong Kong for a while. Dubai has opened up, as Hong Kong has opened up. This is really an exciting moment both for the UAE and Hong Kong to reengage (and) reactivate, to have some good discussions on potential partnerships,” Badri told a news conference on Thursday.
Badri said under the Belt and Road Initiative – China’s signature infrastructure project, first announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 – what Dubai and Hong Kong can establish “in that broader vision” is one partnership through which “we can provide each other with access to new markets”.
The DET official said that part of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) is to connect to more cities globally and to create future economic corridors to support this growth. Those corridors, he said, are going to come from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
“These are really the emerging markets where we see good growth, good prospects where we’re not yet at full potential,” said Badri.
The Chinese mainland is the number one trading partner for the UAE, and the UAE is the top Middle East trading partner for the mainland. Hong Kong is the number 10 trading partner for the UAE. “We still think that we can do more together, and so that is the opportunity we would like to continue to explore and work on together,” said Badri.
In January, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, launched D33 with the goals of doubling the size of Dubai’s economy over the next decade, and consolidating its position among the top three global cities.
The year 2033 will mark 200 years since the foundation of Dubai. The economic target of 32 trillion UAE dirham ($8.7 trillion) includes 100 transformative projects, the doubling of foreign trade to reach 25.6 trillion UAE dirham, and adding 400 cities as key trading partners over the next decade.
In 2019, the UAE introduced sweeping changes to its visa scheme when it started granting golden visas, which serve as residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, professionals and exceptional talents.
“We’ve issued 150,000 golden visas and we continue to do so,” said Badri, adding that the number so far includes 4,500 high net-worth individuals who have brought with them their family offices and business interests.
There is “good momentum in terms of tech talent and entrepreneurs that are moving to Dubai that want to build the next technologies from Dubai for the world,” said Badri.
The UAE official was on a two-day visit to Hong Kong and met with representatives of family offices and players in the financial space – particularly fintech-through-virtual-asset players. He also said he and his department met with private equity and venture capital firms “to get a better understanding of what their priorities are” and “to showcase what Dubai has to offer”.
According to the Kearney’s 2023 Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index, an annual survey of global business executives that ranks markets likely to attract the most investment in the next three years, the UAE ranked top from the Middle East and North Africa.
It was cited for its strong growth last year, attractive business environment, and focus on innovation and technological capabilities.
Badri said Dubai is a “hub for optimism” and that it continues to maintain a business-friendly environment offering safety, security and tolerance to those from different cultures to help it stay ahead of the curve.

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