Positioned at the midpoint of the East and West, Dubai is a futuristic and thriving hub for global trade. The city is strategically located on the world’s busiest sea trade route between Asia and Europe, as well as at the crossroads of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Indian subcontinent, Africa and Central Asia.
Dubai is served by over 120 shipping lines and linked via 85 airlines to over 130 global destinations. The Government of Dubai’s policy of investing heavily in transport, telecommunications, energy, and industrial infrastructure has enabled the city to have one of the best infrastructure networks in the world. The Emirate features a ecosystem of several industrial areas, highly successful business parks, specialised Free Zones of international distinction, two world-class seaports, a major international airport and cargo village, a modern highway network, state-of-the-art telecommunications, and reliable power and utilities, all of which deliver efficiency, flexibility, and reliability at a reasonable cost and size.
Dubai’s unique geographical location makes it a gateway hub that offers trade access for a broader regional market of 3.5 Billion people. Combined with pro-business regulation and future-forward infrastructure, Dubai has fast become a leading global business, finance, technology and commerce powerhouse with trade in its DNA.
Air, Sea, and Land
The hyper-connected Emirate acts as a nerve centre for trillions of dollars of business and investment into the region. With unrivalled air, sea and land access, multiple modes of transportation contribute to Dubai’s trade. Air trade accounted for over 46 percent of Dubai’s trade in 2019 (AED 641 Billion). Sea trade contributed over 36 percent (AED 502 Billion) and land trade 16 percent (AED 228 Billion).
Dubai is one of the world’s most advanced aviation hubs, acting as a catalyst for trade and logistics. Dubai International Airport was the busiest international airport in the world in 2019, for the sixth year running. In total, 3.42 Million tonnes of air freight was moved through Dubai Airports in 2019.
The heart of Dubai’s sea trade operations is Jebel Ali Port, the largest marine terminal in the Middle East. Operated by DP World, the flagship facility has served efficiently as the commercial gateway to the GCC, Iran, India, Pakistan, East Africa and the Levant for over 50 years. Jebel Ali Port, along with Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), combines unparalleled access by sea, air and land with a multitude of modern facilities, a wide choice of logistics service providers and excellent connections with the hinterland. The port’s container handling capacity is currently at 19.3 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units).
Top Trading Partners
Dubai's largest trading partner is China, who accounted for AED 150 billion to the Dubai economy in 2019, up 6 percent on the previous year. India is Dubai’s second-biggest trading partner, contributing over AED 135 billion, 16 percent up on the previous year, followed by the USA with AED 78 billion and Switzerland with AED 60 billion. Dubai's largest Arab trade partner, and its fifth-largest trade partner globally, is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, reporting AED 56 billion worth of trade in 2019.
A Re-Export Hub
Dubai has a historical reputation as a trading hub for all kinds of commodities and has emerged as one of the most important centres of re-exports at the regional and global level. In fact, re-exports make up a particularly large amount of trade through the city, over 30 percent in 2019. It turns out that Dubai is not only a popular stopover for tourists, but also for goods that are in transit on their way to other countries. Billions of dollars of commodities come into Dubai before being traded off to a whole host of countries around the world. From consumer electronics like TVs, smartphones, and computers, to nuts and spices, everything is traded.
Dubai’s prime geographical location makes it a great place to link buyers and sellers from Asia, Europe, Africa, and even further afield. Aside from the central location, Dubai's easy seaport access, favourable government regulations, and tax-free environment have helped establish the city as the leading trade centre in the region. For re-exporters of all kinds, Dubai has all the ingredients you need to grow your business in new markets.
Jebel Ali Free Zone
Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is a core part of Dubai’s great infrastructure revolution over the past six decades. In the last 35 years, Jafza has grown from 19 companies in 1985, to more than 8,000 today, which includes nearly 100 Global Fortune 500 enterprises, most of which have set up their regional headquarters in Jafza to serve the wider Middle East region. As an integral part of DP World, Jafza’s vision is ‘To Lead the Future of World Trade’ and establish Dubai as a global trading hub. Jafza is the first and largest Free Zone in Dubai and the most efficient one-stop platform for industrial and logistics solutions, helping contribute 23.8 percent of Dubai's GDP. A logistics hub for the Arabian gulf, Jafza provides sea connectivity to 80+ Weekly services to over 150 direct ports of calls and more than 180 shipping lines. Any business associated with Jafza opens an opportunity to tap markets of over 3.5 billion consumers.
One of the main contributors to Dubai’s trade bonafides is Dubai South which encapsulates main pillars that facilitate this growth sector, namely the Logistics District, Business Park and the Aviation Hub. Both play a role in seamless connectivity and present a complete economic platform for every kind of business and industry to flourish, prosper, and sustain itself. Dubai South’s proximity to the seaport of Jebel Ali and being home to Al Maktoum International Airport also makes it a convenient international trade hub with an entire ecosystem supply chain catering to the seamless movement of goods and services by land, air and sea.