Sheikh Mohammed announces D.I.C.
The following is the translated text of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's speech announcing Dubai Internet City.
In the name of Allah, The Merciful, The Compassionate.
Brothers and sisters, the past few years have seen the emergence of a new world economy, one that is different from those that preceded it. No one will deny that the industrial economy has receded in favour of the new trend toward an information economy. The rate at which a nation's competitive advantages change presents a number of challenges since raw materials and cheap labour no longer guarantee a leading position, as witnessed during the last decade. Now the countries that can achieve leading positions are those that depend on knowledge, information, ideas and services rather than on natural resources.
The UAE has, in less than two centuries, established itself as an internationally renowned, modern economic and commercial hub. Such great achievements would not have been possible without the wise vision of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the President, may Allah protect him.
The spirit of adventure and initiative is responsible for the UAE's growth in this very short span of time. We have learned, from our experiences of the past few years, that the path of excellence and distinction does not stop at a certain stage - on the contrary, we consider any success we achieve as an additional incentive to achieve greater success.
We realise that our competitive features are a mix of several factors that did not emerge overnight. They are, instead, the outcome of years of hard work. We decided to shape our vision so that our children will see their country in the lead, surpassing the world's most prominent economic centres. Therefore, challenges make miracles.
Brothers, we believe that the competitive advantages we desire have gone beyond catching up with the march of development; we aim to achieve leading positions, developing from a regional economic hub to an international economic hub.
The economic prosperity that the UAE is enjoying already needs a new push to limit its dependence on natural resources in favour of a service economy that depends on human factors to achieve the development that we desire.
Today we witness an Internet revolution - the nervous system of the new world economy. The Internet changes communication methods as we know them and the market concepts to which we have become accustomed. We see, in these new developments, the opportunity to work on changing the concept of our economy in the coming decade. We already have modern economic infrastructure that enables us to define new methods of trade and services that can lead us to the stage of integration with the world economy.
The world today is seeing a surge in e-commerce: We see an unprecedented opportunity in this field to prepare for a world without limits, brought about by the astounding economic developments.
Gentlemen, it is said that all that man has achieved throughout history is considered a dream and a thought and I would like you, on this occasion, to share this dream that is being achieved with me. We look forward to increasing our ability to compete internationally, which presently includes a strategic location between the East and the West, modern infrastructure that combines quality and effective economic costs, minimal bureaucracy and open economic policies in addition to the absence of tax.
The UAE has proved its ability to turn ideas into realities - the Jebel Ali Free Zone and Emirates airline are good examples.
The coming world is a world led by the Internet and communication revolution and distinction will be limited to those with creative ideas and the willingness to adapt to the changes witnessed by world economies.
Information has become one of the sources of income for a number of countries. So, why do we need traditional means to transport goods from the UAE to world markets? Why can't communication networks transport information and services from the UAE to world markets in the coming years?
My vision is based on the prediction that the next business cycle will include e-commerce and customised markets, but the companies that will lead in e-commerce will need a well-prepared infrastructure, offices, laws and suitable work environments.
We look forward to our country becoming a world trade centre for e-commerce companies. Therefore, I am pleased to announce Dubai Internet City, the world's first e-commerce free zone. This is our project, which we hope will provide the ideal environment for creativity and for people with initiative.
Dubai Internet City will include headquarters for pioneering international organisations, an e-commerce centre, computer program developers, a science and technology city, a research and studies centre and permanent Internet and e-commerce exhibitions. The City will also include the world's first Internet and e-commerce university, which will provide courses in business management, operations, finance, multimedia and design via the Internet.
The DIC's characteristics make it an example that will attract world capital. The City will offer companies 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, land on renewable 50 year leases and one window for all government permits, including trade licences and work permits. In addition, DIC will provide facilities for all sectors - financing, training, teaching and research, providing modern technological infrastructure like broadband communication.
I would like to invite global IT-based companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Cisco, InfoSys, Yahoo and others to establish research and development offices at DIC. Dubai will offer them the ideal work environment and provide a competitive advantage at a fraction of the cost of places like Silicon Valley in the US.
I would also like to invite e-commerce companies like Amazon.com, eBay and E*TRADE to open warehousing and distribution hubs to service their customers from the Middle East to the subcontinent and from Africa to the CIS. Dubai is the business hub for over two billion customers in the region.
Finally, I would like to return to the time, decades ago, when my father, the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, ordered the dredging of Dubai Creek to facilitate trade in the Creek, which was and is considered the life stream of Dubai's trade.
I see the DIC project as being of similar significance. DIC will contribute to transforming Dubai from a regional hub into a world e-commerce hub.
I hope, finally, that this project will enjoy the effective participation of all so that it will lead to the development of e-commerce.