Dubai's Multi Commodities Center, the largest free trade zone in the United Arab Emirates, has seen a strong surge in the number of Chinese companies as the Belt and Road Initiative drives new business opportunities.
Registrations of Chinese companies at the DMCC have grown by an average of 46 percent annually over the past five years.
Located in the middle of the Maritime Silk Road, the zone has attracted around 150 Chinese companies since its establishment in 2002.
The majority of Chinese companies already there are large corporates involved in infrastructure and technology, including Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd, Hisense Group, Sinopec Group, China Harbour Engineering Co and China State Construction Engineering Corp.
He said he believes the Belt and Road Initiative will drive the growth even more rapidly and provide new opportunities for small and medium-sized companies and startups in the trading and services sectors.
"With the increased digitalization of trade, international commerce will grow by $29 trillion over the next decade, bringing about 350 million new businesses into international trade," he said. "And that's where we are keen to grow trade relationships."
On Monday, a DMCC delegation visited Shenzhen, home of 1.4 million SMEs in Guangdong province, for the first time. "We are here because it is the hub for technology and new innovations," he explained.
In addition, the DMCC plans to build a new coffee center which is expected to export around 140,000 metric tons of Chinese Arabica beans from Yunnan province to Dubai and then re-export them globally.
Cong Hongbin, vice-chairman of international relations at strategic advisory company Falcon and Associates, said the petroleum and natural gas industry accounts for about just 2 percent of Dubai's GDP, while the majority comes from the service sector, such as trade, logistics and tourism.
He said the city not only can benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative but also is an ideal pivot to support its development.