Dubai has a long history of embracing change and fresh thinking, from its early days as a small trading port to its current status as a global hub for tourism, trade, and investment. While the city’s strategic location, advanced infrastructure, abundant resources, and political stability have all contributed to its rapid transformation, it is Dubai’s constant desire and unique ability to reinvent itself that is fueling its exceptional journey.
As it gears up to mark 200 years since its foundation, the city’s forward-thinking leadership led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has put the Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’ in motion, offering us a window into the future of the Middle East and the world.
The recently launched bold and audacious agenda has set its sights high, with several ambitious goals outlined for Dubai to reach during the next decade. It aims to position Dubai among the world’s top three economic cities, top three international destinations for tourism and business, top four global financial hubs, and top five leading logistic hubs, among many other targets. With 100 transformative projects planned to achieve the D33 agenda, Dubai is envisioned to become the most important global business center when it celebrates its second centenary in 2033.
As with many previous strategies, economic diversification is the underlying theme of the new agenda. While it directs that traditional trade and economic sectors be developed further, the roadmap has a strong focus on increased investment in future growth sectors, with sustainable economic growth and self-sufficiency in key sectors and industries being Dubai’s priorities. In the process, the agenda will open up new avenues for the city’s private sector to thrive more and more. With all the new projects and initiatives rolled out, Dubai will see the size of its economy double to AED 32 trillion over the next 10 years.
Four key focus areas of this agenda have piqued my interest in particular – partnerships, technology, education, and people empowerment. D33 attaches great importance to expanding Dubai’s partnerships with the rest of the world to enhance foreign trade. The Dubai Economic Corridors 2033 initiative aimed to strengthen existing foreign trade relations with Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, and the plan to add 400 cities as key trade partners will be a game changer in Dubai’s growth. These initiatives will enable it to harness the strengths of its partners to create new business opportunities while also sharing prosperity with them.
One of the key factors that set Dubai apart from other cities is its willingness to embrace and be at the forefront of new technologies. Unsurprisingly, technology finds a prominent place in the D33 agenda. It is promising to see that the leadership is giving much weight to innovation and future technologies to reinforce Dubai’s reputation as a global tech hub. Sandbox Dubai, which aims to make the city a major hub for incubating business innovation by enabling the testing and marketing of new products and technologies, will be a huge step toward this goal as it will attract more tech talents and entrepreneurs to be part of Dubai’s pioneering journey. As befitting the avant-garde economic blueprint, Dubai is hoping to generate a new economic value of AED 100 billion from digital transformation annually.
Another important aspect of Dubai’s D33 agenda is its focus on education and human capital. Making Dubai a hub for higher education and investing in human development and skillsets are integral components of the agenda. It is worth highlighting that Dubai’s visionary leaders have prioritized the integration of new generations of Emiratis into the private sector. The plan to attract 65,000 young Emiratis into the sector over the next decade will have a profound positive impact on the sustainable growth and development of the UAE’s economy and its society.
In line with this exemplary initiative, I was so pleased that the social responsibility arm of DAMAC Group proactively collaborated with The Knowledge Fund Establishment and the Dubai Schools Project to offer scholarships to Emirati children for 5 years.
As someone who has closely watched and been a part of Dubai’s growth story over many decades, I believe this D33 agenda has no parallel and is set to turbocharge the growth and development of Dubai in ways unimaginable with the new wave of opportunities it will unleash in various sectors.
Opportunities abound and goals are set. It is just a matter of time to see Dubai bounding down the road to holistic economic development, sustainable prosperity, and global leadership in key sectors and industries.
Founder and Chairman of DAMAC Group