Dubai has pivotal role in global diamond business

As the world’s third largest diamond trading centre, Dubai is at the centre of the New Silk Road and is “ideally positioned” to serve a pivotal role in the fast-changing diamond business landscape, industry participants at the opening day of Dubai Diamond Conference 2013 were told on Monday.

By Issac John

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Published: Tue 19 Mar 2013, 11:29 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:43 AM

Peter Meeus, chairman of the board of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), who was nominated on Monday by Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, as the first non-Western president of the World Diamond Council, said the focus of rough diamond trading is moving to Africa, with African nations increasingly taking control of their mineral resources distribution.

“The bulk of the industry’s diamond manufacturing, on the other hand, has long since moved to India, China and other Asian countries. Dubai is ideally positioned, geographically and operationally, to serve a pivotal role in this ever-changing landscape. Dubai is truly at the center of the New Silk Road and will bring it to its full potential,” Meeus said while addressing delegates representing companies and entities from all sections of the diamond supply pipeline.

Dubai has truly built the trade’s new silk route and has rapidly risen as a market leader in the global diamond market with $39 billion worth of diamonds traded through the emirate in 2011. Antwerp, which was at the forefront of the global diamond trade for centuries until it was replaced by Mumbai, traded about $50 billion worth of diamonds in 2011, while close to $60 billion worth of stones passed through Mumbai. The inaugural Dubai Diamond Conference 2013 at Almas Tower in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers, welcomed hundreds of participants including governmental delegations from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

In his keynote address to conference delegates, Ahmed bin Sulayem pointed out that the global diamond industry is no longer dominated by Western countries.

“We have become a global community of producers, cutters, polishers, retailers and regulators. To ensure the collective voices of Russia, Dubai, India, China and Africa are heard, I believe global institutions such as the World Diamond Council need to be helmed by leaders who recognise the issues facing these countries. Peter’s unparalleled understanding of the global diamond market will allow him to act in the best interests of the entire industry and ensure it continues to evolve in response to consumer and producer needs.”

Eli Izhakoff, president of World Diamond Council, or WDC, said as members of a socially responsible industry all players should strive to ensure that products and activities do not impact negatively upon stakeholders. “We also need to be proactive, for the diamond and jewellery business has a tremendous capacity to stimulate economic growth and development, and to nurture stronger and healthier societies.”

Zhakoff said the basic structure of the Kimberley Process remains the same, and that is that every legitimately traded diamond must be traced to a verifiable KP certificate. And the most effective way of doing that is by way of the World Diamond Council’s Chain of Warranties.

“But we agree that, in endorsing the integrity of diamonds, the KP certificates must address the challenges that are prevalent today. As such, we need to consider expanding the definition of conflict diamonds, so that it incorporates all the instances of armed conflict and armed violence that may be associated with the rough diamond business,” he said.

Izhakoff, who is stepping down as head of WDC in June, said the spirit of reform and renewal within the Kimberley Process is critical. “I am confident that it will continue under the new KP chair, Ambassador Welile Nhlapo of South Africa.”

Varda Shine, the executive vice-president of global sales for De Beers, provided conference delegates with her perspectives on the current state of the global diamond trade, derived from over 25 years of experience in the industry.

“With southern Africa becoming a global rough diamond trading hub, there will be tremendous opportunities for players in the diamond supply pipeline. As such, the development of new trade routes is likely to continue, as increased demand from Asian markets is expected. Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in grasping these opportunities,” said Shine.

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