Dubai, UAE: Over 16,000 new member companies joined Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2020 as the organisation responded to new challenges and adapted its services and offerings to meet the changing needs of the business community.
In 2020, Dubai Chamber saw the return on its investment in digital transformation over the years. The Chamber was digitally prepared as it made 98% of its core services available online, which enabled it to serve its members and customers remotely and efficiently.
The Chamber’s performance figures, key achievements and activities in 2020 are highlighted in a brand new interactive and dynamic annual report, which can be viewed here.
During the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Chamber launched the #BeSafeWorkSmart campaign as it encouraged companies to implement preventive measures enforced by the government and offered valuable guidance on the transition to remote working.
The Chamber processed more than 659,000 e-transactions during the year, with more than 78% of the customers having to wait less than 5 minutes to be served. In March 2020, it launched an electronic attestation service and the authentication of signatures on documents. This seamless digital transformation was reflective of the Chamber’s ability to quickly adapt to global changes due to its technological preparedness.
Joining forces with Google, Dubai Chamber unveiled plans to get 50,000 local businesses online by listing them on Google my Business and training them in digital marketing. This initiative has helped 100,000 businesses across the UAE get verified over the last two years. A separate partnership with Amazon was established to help Dubai Chamber member companies expand their digital presence, capitalise on new business opportunities and learn about the benefits of selling online.
Boosting business support
The value of exports and re-exports of Dubai Chamber members amounted to AED 185 billion and a total of 632,436 certificates of origin were issued by the organisation last year. Meanwhile, 2,914 ATA Carnets worth 3.3 billion dirhams were issued and received by the Chamber. The ATA Carnet system is managed by Dubai Chamber in cooperation with Dubai Customs, facilitating the temporary entry of imports to Dubai.
In line with its role as the voice of the business community, Dubai Chamber reviewed 62 draft local and federal laws and ministerial decisions during the year 2020, with the aim of ensuring a favourable business environment. The organisation’s Legal Services department received 334 mediation cases, 148 of which were settled amicably, while the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), an initiative of Dubai Chamber, received 230 arbitration cases in 2020.
A virtual mediation service was launched to ensure the continuity of services during unprecedented circumstances, making the Chamber one of the first organisations of its kind in the region to offer this option. The Chamber received 215 virtual mediation cases during the year.
Another major initiative launched in 2020 was Business Connect, an information portal providing useful information and resources designed to help businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic. The Chamber released a comprehensive guide on various economic stimulus packages launched by the government and launched the “Ask the Expert” video series across its social media channels, which answered commonly asked business-related questions.
Tackling Covid-related challenges
Webinars and virtual events organised by Dubai Chamber throughout the year tackled a wide range of timely issues impacting businesses, such as banking and funding, legal implications of Covid-19 on business, new measures to ensure employee health and safety, sustainability best practices.
A prime example of Dubai Chamber’s proactive approach to using innovation to curb the spread of COVID-19, help businesses drive growth is the Rapid Response Initiative – a new online marketplace for registration for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), which saw a 340% surge in registration after its launch.
During this period, the Chamber created new channels for constructive and open dialogue between public and private sector stakeholders. These platforms provided an opportunity for businesses to share their concerns and policy recommendations. Such efforts supported the Chamber’s position of being the voice of the private sector and advocating on its behalf with the aim of ensuring a favourable business environment in Dubai.
Expanding startup support
Through its entrepreneurship arm Dubai Startup Hub (DSH), Dubai Chamber ensured that SMEs and entrepreneurs received all of the guidance and support needed to navigate through new challenges and capitalise on new opportunities. A total of 2,166 entrepreneurs benefited from Dubai Startup Hub programs in 2020, 19% of which were Emiratis. By going fully digital, Dubai Startup Hub increased value of services to the startup community and hosted 48 webinars and virtual events during the year.
The Market Access Programme, a flagship initiative of the DSH evolved significantly in 2020 with a strong focus on tech start-ups. Meanwhile, two new programmes were launched, namely the Emirati Development Programme and Scale-up Dubai to cater to changing needs of entrepreneurs. The 5th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition was also a highlight for 2020 with 315 innovative business ideas submitted that relate to the Expo 2020 Dubai sub-themes of Mobility, Opportunity and Sustainability.
Exploring new gateways
Dubai Chamber continued exploring business opportunities in promising markets around the world as it received 2,907 delegations and met with 5,694 delegates from 36 countries in 2020. A total of 82 business networking events were organised, which were attended by 9,441 businesspeople.
The Chamber organised 18 outbound missions, including study missions and virtual trade missions, while it arranged 433 business matching meetings. In line with its efforts to facilitate cross-border business collaboration, Dubai Chamber launched a series of Global Business Forum (GBF) virtual roadshows examining new economic opportunities in emerging markets across Africa, Latin America and the ASEAN region.
The Chamber’s 11 representative offices in Africa, Eurasia, Latin America and Asia held 2,388 virtual meetings with more than 3,652 investors interested in expanding its business network and activities to Dubai. The Chamber’s external offices organised 43 virtual events and participated in 400 other events as part of their efforts to promote Dubai as a global business hub, identify business opportunities and build relationships with key stakeholders in promising markets.
Building an association community
The Dubai Association Centre – a joint initiative between the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and the Dubai World Trade Centre – granted licenses to 7 new economic and professional bodies in 2020, which brought the total number of licensed associations to 72.
These economic and professional bodies under the umbrella of DAC represent 15,000 companies around the world, and about 600,000 members and professional individuals.
Promoting responsible business
Dubai Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business organised 25 virtual seminars attended by 1,816 participants from 555 companies and institutions. One of the highlights was the Dubai Dialogue 2020 conference, which attracted the participation of 113 participants from 56 companies who discussed timely CSR and sustainability issues impacting the business community, as well as potential solutions to address existing challenges.
The Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network grew its total membership to 73 companies in 2020. A new taskforce group was launched under the network to tackle the issue of late payments. The Engage Dubai corporate volunteering programme and Give and Gain Week attracted the participation of 834 volunteers from 24 companies participated who dedicated 14,854 volunteering hours to support 50,501 beneficiaries.
A total of 17 new companies applied for the Dubai Chamber CSR Label and 4 companies received the advanced category of the label. The Centre for Responsible Business also issued a comprehensive study, which shed light on the state of CSR in Dubai. In addition, the Centre launched the Business Mentoring and Support programme, creating a platform for SMEs to access knowledge, skills and experience and navigate new challenges posed by Covid-19, whilst also giving large organisations the opportunity to deliver on their strategic CSR commitments.
H.E Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber, credited the Chamber’s positive performance and various achievements in 2020 to a number of important factors such as proactive communication, leadership, innovation, digital preparedness and close public-private sector cooperation, which helped the organisation overcome unprecedented challenges and guide the business community through various stages of the pandemic.
“Dubai Chamber remains fully committed to supporting businesses in Dubai as they adapt to a new reality and providing access to new growth opportunities at home and abroad,” H.E. Buamim added.