Though more than one year away, Dubai Expo 2020 has created quite a buzz thanks to its projected epic-scale. At the grand show, the UAE members would be showcasing their evolving non-oil capabilities asking the global community of investors to participate in the next phase of growth in the region. According to Nadia Abdul Aziz, President, National Association of Freight & Logistics (NAFL), UAE, opportunities in the logistics sector, particularly in the free trade zones in the region would be a key focus of the grand show. Excerpts of a recent conversation with Ritwik Sinha…
Dubai Expo 2020 is billed to be one of the biggest business shows on the planet. Firstly, I would like to understand the basic nature of this show?
It will be a holistic show in which 180 countries are likely to participate. Innovation in the UAE countries is one of the key things which will be showcased- innovation in mobility logistics, sustainability and renewable energy and opportunities in these domains. We will be creating three huge pavilions dedicated to these domains. And there would be many other attractions. For instance, we would be announcing a $100 million fund for innovators and entrepreneurs for new ideas. UPS will be handling most of the government pavilions. It would be a six month affair.
To what extent will logistics find prominence at the grand show?
The expo will showcase the entire opportunities in the region related with logistics, not only hard infrastructure but also our technology initiatives. We will start using blockchain by that time, hyperloop will be introduced and hopefully by then flying unmanned taxis will also be available. Our cops will be using robots, internet of things technology for security and surveillance. Smart cities will be aggressively introduced.
What have been the investment trends from Indian logistics players in the region in the recent past?
A lot of investments have been made. A lot of freight forwarding companies are owned by Indian enterprenuers. Even the state owned companies are run and managed by senior Indian professionals.
Indians are there as professional managers, it is no secret to anybody. But are you also finding Indian entrepreneurs from the logistics domain setting up their base there?
It is small in number and this is what we want to encourage also through this show. With the adoption of the latest technology, we are keen to make Dubai and other hotspots in the UAE the regional hubs for e-commerce. As I said IT will play a major role in our plans and Indian companies are very strong in it. So that is an opportunity for Indian firms.
At the end of the expo, what is the kind of business benefits the UAE would be targeting to achieve?
Our estimate is: this expo will result in adding 1 percent to our GDP. We will be receiving over 25 million visitors. We are expecting FDI going up significantly after the show. There are huge real estate projects and commercial projects where fresh FDI can flow in. That is why we have announced attractive provisions for future investors. We are now allowing 100 percent ownership in our free trade zones and 10 year visa for investors, etc.