Investment diversification is the key role of DDIA in Hong Kong

The opening of the Hong Kong office of the Dubai Development and Investment Authority (DDIA) demonstrates the extent to which Dubai's economy is maturing and is becoming more appealing to a broader range of investors.


  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Mon 23 Jan 2006, 9:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:52 PM

Part of the appeal has come from the establishment of investment clusters, or economic free zones, enabling the DDIA to attract investors to Dubai, said the DDIA's Asia Pacific director, Arif Mubarak, speaking shortly before the official opening of the Hong Kong office last week.

He also said that widening the investment umbrella is one of the DDIA's main remits. "Dubai does not want to depend on one country for investment; this is not a strategy. We want to have different sources of foreign direct investment (FDI), We want to open the region to as many companies and countries as possible to achieve added value."

The DDIA was formed four years ago as a self-funded independent government entity, mandated to attract FDI into Dubai to develop its economy. "We are here to support Dubai and not specific companies," said Mubarak. "We are principally a facilitator and do not want to interfere in the investment deal. Our main objective is to match make the right people in order to make a deal," he said.

Mubarak estimated that by 2002, the DDIA had helped to attract almost half of Dubai's FDI and by 2004 had attracted almost $5 billion to the economy. He said that most of this investment came from countries within a three to five-hour flight from Dubai- an untapped market of 1.5 billion people and an estimated worth of almost $200 billion.

"We have been successful in attracting companies from this market, specifically from outside the Middle East and Indian subcontinent," Mubarak said, and it is now time to go to regions further afield. Of the three possible targets, the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, "our evaluation and study showed us to go to Asia Pacific." Hong Kong was selected as the base because of its easy access to all countries in the region, good logistics and sound infrastructure.

Initially, the DDIA's aim is to focus predominately on Hong Kong, with the aim of increasing its share of Hong Kong's international investments, estimated to be worth more than $350 billion. Within six months the authority intends to focus on Mainland China and, six months later, to target potential investors in one of several possible cities such as Tokyo and Seoul, explained Mubarak.

The DDIA is planning to open other offices in New York and London within the next 12 to 18 months.

DDIA will focus on attracting four different groups to the region, explained Mubarak: individual investors; "influentials" such as financial institutions and bankers; family-owned businesses and government-owned institutions.

"We believe we can create mechanisms that help companies to move and invest outside the region. Dubai and the Middle East can offer a lot and can develop a lot. These are the sorts of companies with which we wish to collaborate."

Mubarak said the DDIA is receiving considerable interest from within the healthcare sector, the property sector and the tourism and entertainment sectors, with a particular interest for themed hotels. The authority has also been receiving interest from the energy sector, he said.

On the reaction of the Hong Kong community to Dubai more generally, Mubarak said: "What amazes me is how many people know Dubai — as a tourist destination, as one of the safest cities in the Middle East and as one of the region's most developed cities."

Mubarak also said that financial services companies from Hong Kong are also expressing interest in doing business in Dubai. "Recently we have been meeting with bankers and financial institutions. They are expressing great interest in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) but for the time being we are mainly concentrating on major sectors," he said. The DDIA is however "formulating a strategy of how to deal with financial services companies," he explained.

The DDIA is also looking to launch other initiatives as well benchmarking its success. "We will disclose the [target] numbers soon," said Mubarak and added: "There will be the launch of initiatives in Hong Kong to bring the two countries together but the strategy has not been finalised yet."

As well as attracting foreign direct investment from across Asia and facilitating joint venture partnerships, based on DDIA's relations with different authorities and entities around Dubai and the Middle East more generally, the DDIA is also keen on attracting talent to the region. Mubarak said: "Talent is one of the most important resources in any economy and in Dubai we are lacking talent. Talent is one of the main drivers behind the success of any economy."

More news from