This article provides an overview of Dubai for those keen to explore the possibility of living and working there. Gathered from open sources, the information presented is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Country: United Arab Emirates
- Land area: 35 sq km
- National language: Arabic
- Currency: Dirham
Dubai is located on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and in the southwest corner of the Arabian Gulf. To its southeast sits the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai is the second largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is located to its south. Sharjah, the third largest city in the UAE, is located 18 km to its northeast.
The Emirate of Dubai covers an area of 4,114 square kilometres. Within the Emirate of Dubai, the city of Dubai covers an area of about 35 square kilometres but is expected to double in area with the addition of five man-made islands and the completion of desert construction work.
Dubai has the highest population density in the UAE. At the end of 2018, the population residing in Dubai was estimated at 3,192,275 individuals, of whom 2,233,390 are males and 958,885 are females. Expatriates made up around 71 percent of the population.
Known as the “capital of UAE’s economy”, Dubai, one of the fastest growing cities in the world, is its key financial and trading hub. Helped by its strategic geographical location and “exceptional infrastructure”, Dubai has emerged as a prominent global trading city connecting markets around the world.
In addition to its efficient infrastructure, Dubai has put in place economic policies and a legislative framework that has made it a conducive environment for over 20,000 international corporations to operate. Additionally, Dubai is investing heavily in infrastructure and hospitality projects in the lead-up to hosting the Expo 2020 trade fair. Some of these include the expansion of the Al Maktoum International Airport at an estimated cost of US$8 billion.
Dubai’s economy is based largely on natural resources. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, Dubai’s fast growing knowledge-based and services economy soon matched and almost replaced its revenue from oil. Currently over 90 percent of business activity in Dubai involves trade, logistics, financial services, hospitality and tourism, real estate, construction and manufacturing.
Under the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, there are plans to strengthen the industrial sector to create more jobs for Emiratis. These include 75 key initiatives to generate revenue worth up to US$44 billion, create 27,000 jobs and boost exports by US$4 billion by 2030. The six priority industry sectors that have been identified are aerospace, aluminium and fabricated metals, food and beverage, machinery and equipment, maritime and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Dubai offers visitors a kaleidoscope of attractions. For instance, the Dubai Museum, located inside the Al Fahidi Fort, offers insights into Arabian culture. In addition, visitors can explore its contrasting landscapes, archaeological sites and a natural sea-water inlet, known as The Creek, which cuts cross the city centre and is the “focal point of life in Dubai”. Among its top attractions are the Burj Khalifa, Dubai mall and Palm Jumeirah.
To meet growing demands from the tourism sector, Dubai has developed extensive, world-class hospitality and tourism facilities. In 2017, 88.2 million passengers passed through the Al Maktoum International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports. Plans are laid to start the building of a new airport about 65 kilometres further south.
Singapore and Dubai
A number of Singapore companies and start-ups have set up businesses in Dubai in sectors such as financial services, logistics, hospitality and urban solutions. For instance, the Bank of Singapore’s branch in Dubai’s International Financial Centre was officially opened on 19 February 2017. Others that have followed suit include NSL Limited and KS International. As for start-ups, in 2018, four percent of the more than 300 applications for Dubai’s fintech accelerator programme were from Singapore.
The UAE Singapore Business Council conducts talks for members on relevant business issues as well as conduct trade missions to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Enterprise Singapore has also collaborated with FT Consulting to support Singapore companies keen to set up business in Dubai.
At the government level, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Dubai Financial Services Authority signed an agreement on 29 August 2018 that would allow each party to refer fintech companies to each other, as well as facilitate information sharing on innovation in the financial sector. They also agreed to work on joint projects, such as digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distribution ledgers, Big Data and Application Programming interfaces.