- Forged by the bold vision of the city’s founding father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) today is a key player in accelerating Dubai’s economic diversification agenda
- Over four decades, DWTC’s world renowned calendar of business events have generated in excess of AED 200 billion of total economic output contributing to Dubai’s GDP – dedicated towards building an innovation-driven, knowledge economy
Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) marks its 40th anniversary this month since establishing its position as the first icon for regional trade in 1979 and evolving to be integral to global commerce and business enablement across the EMEA and the sub-continent. Inspired by the ground-breaking vision for Dubai to be a model growth-oriented city for the world, the Emirate’s founding father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, triggered the city’s extraordinary and rapid metamorphosis in just four decades, with DWTC fuelling the evolution and cementing of Dubai’s reputation as a competitive international leader in business tourism, events trade and investment.
Embodying the aspirations of the city’s leadership, the thirty-nine-storey, Sheikh Rashid Tower (commonly known as Trade Centre Tower) that started its journey as the tallest structure in the Arab world and the symbol of business on the face of the AED 100 currency bill, has dramatically and sustainably transformed its purpose over time to become (i) home to regional and international businesses within the multi-dimensional 1.3 million square feet DWTC complex in the heart of Dubai; (ii) pivotal to the city’s global leadership in the expansive events industry; and (iii) steadily building the emirate’s competitiveness as a business, knowledge and networking hub for 2025 and beyond.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said: “Our founding father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, defined a bold vision – for Dubai to be ‘the’ globally recognised trade and business hub for the entire region, propelling a domestic economic agenda rooted in diversification – an unconventional and defiant position to adopt for any nation in the Middle East given the traditional stronghold of oil-driven GDP growth. It has been this path-defining leadership that has guided our mission as DWTC and seen our city soar to heights ‘beyond’ what many believed to be ‘possible’. His mandate since DWTC’s inception has been our guiding beacon in defining our mission and strategic priorities that have over the years focused on shaping Dubai’s core proposition as a hub for tourism, trade and finance. Throughout the past four decades, we have been humbled and honoured by the privilege of bearing the flagship of ‘future definers’, both for the wider region and beyond. DWTC’s success is measured by our ability to continuously grow the sector’s relevance and contribution to Dubai’s GDP and to this end, our fulfilment of this objective is a testament to the strength of our foundation, which will grow even stronger as we enter the next era of enablement of the city’s digitised, hyper-connected, new-age business ecosystem.”
Four decades of success
Over the past 40 years, DWTC has been a key protagonist in Dubai’s diversification agenda. It played a fundamental role in enabling trade and events during Dubai’s formative years, rapidly propelling the city to new heights of success. It also supported the growth of the MICE sector in Dubai, contributing to its appeal as an optimal career option for talent in the city and globally. DWTC continues to expand as an anchor landmark along the city’s economic corridor.
It continues to play an integral role in strengthening Dubai’s position as a global economic hub, having generated over AED 200 billion of total economic output and hosting over 5000 business and MICE events from 1979-2018. In addition, DWTC has attracted over 30 million business visitors to Dubai from inception through 2018, of which 12 million visitors were from international markets thereby facilitating international trade and consolidating Dubai’s status as a global business destination.
Today, DWTC’s global reach, market attractiveness and sector diversity are unparalleled – with a broad spectrum of industries represented within our high performance, fast evolving and internationally renowned calendar of events. It plays host to over 600 events annually across key sectors, including technology and innovation, healthcare, energy and sustainability, real estate, food and beverage, hospitality, automotive and transportation, among others, all of which are closely aligned with Dubai’s and the UAE’s strategic vision for economic diversification. By the same token, DWTC has been a key enabler of international trade for the UAE and other global economies, as world leading multi-national companies, small and medium businesses and start-ups are given the platform and opportunity to connect to new markets, high value buyers, global funding and R&D opportunities etc. – reflecting a democratised, “shared economic value creation” platform, that is a pioneering model for sustained global growth.
The nation is already paving the way for a tomorrow, rooted in innovation, knowledge creation, open data sharing and diversification as outlined in the UAE Centennial 2071 Agenda. As Dubai accelerates towards this goal, DWTC plays an even more crucial role in charting the next stage of growth, over the forthcoming decades. To facilitate this purpose, DWTC continues to enhance Dubai’s business ecosystem, enabling new industries, fostering entrepreneurship, providing a rich content network, developing sustainable and integrated infrastructure, facilitating knowledge sharing and creating opportunities for youth of this region and the world – all working in tandem to strengthen the emirate’s position as an inclusive, stable and world-class destination to live and work.
A core enabler to heralding this next era of joint success is our ability to fuel discussions and information dissemination about major global societal and macro business trends driving rapid social, economic and technological change. To this extent, DWTC has expanded its events scope to be the first in the region to cover topics such as food security, artificial intelligence, bio-tech, blockchain, creative economy and environmental sustainability. These events serve as invaluable platforms to help shape future policy, encourage knowledge share and promote global partnerships, while positioning Dubai as a global model of a diversified, sustainable and resilient economy, that adapts and excels with shifting agendas.
Through its diverse offerings, DWTC has also significantly contributed to growing investor confidence in Dubai’s economy. In the first half of 2018 alone, foreign direct investment (FDI) into the emirate has risen to US$ 4.84 billion, according to Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI). New landmark properties developed by DWTC are also bolstering the emirate’s ability to consistently attract international businesses, as well as long-term foreign investment. The development of One Central, which stands adjacent to the DWTC complex, is a significant milestone that is aligned to DWTC’s long-term strategy.
This growth is only set to intensify over the next few years, largely due to the opportunity that Expo 2020 Dubai presents, as the city prepares to welcome 20 million visitors. DWTC’s legacy and expertise encompasses the Expo 2020 site, with the development of the Expo Village and the new Expo 2020 Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), both of which will cement Dubai’s leading position as a residential, business and MICE events hub, further boosting private sector investment and business tourism between the emirate and the world.
H.E. Almarri concluded: “It is undeniable that Dubai and DWTC have scaled tremendous heights together and achieved aspirational milestones consequently over the past 40 years, but it is imperative that we always recognise that the reason for our sustained success is our inherent quest to always look forward and not rest on past laurels. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai says, “the race for excellence has no finish line”. Guided by this unfledging future-focus, with a vision to make Dubai the most innovative city in the world, our strategic agenda is closely aligned with our leadership’s aspirations, and the city’s ambitious goals strengthen our resolve to spearhead this mission, while expanding our knowledge base, attracting the best talent pool and empowering the UAE’s next generation to be future leaders of the world. We look forward to an encore over the next 40 years, and are grateful to the continuous support of our strategic partners across government, public and private sectors, as we collectively further our contribution to Dubai’s economy and positioning as the most influential global business hub.”