Digital Silk Road: Dubai Disrupts Global Trade With Blockchain Technology


Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) is a public non-profit organization that promotes Dubai as an international business hub. DCCI forefronts the blockchain movements in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with substantial initiatives. Yazeed Salah, Senior Manager – Chamber Executive Office at Dubai Chambers interacts with Murali Margassery, Assistant Editor at The Integrator on its ongoing efforts.

We understand that Dubai Chambers spearheads the adoption of the blockchain revolution in the country. Kindly elaborate on the ongoing efforts and recent initiatives.

As Dubai’s largest economic development arm, Dubai Chambers is playing an active role in supporting the Dubai Blockchain Strategy.

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the business world, we were exploring and adopting cutting-edge solutions powered by blockchain and other advanced technologies to streamline our services to our customers, facilitate trade processes, improve ease of doing business and enhance Dubai’s economic competitiveness.

Digital transformation is a key focus of Dubai Chambers’ 2022-2024 strategy and we are working closely with strategic partners in the public and private sectors to spearhead innovative initiatives and programs that create added value for businesses in Dubai and expand their access to growth opportunities at home and abroad.

Yazeed Salah, Senior Manager –  Dubai Chambers

One of our biggest initiatives in the pipeline is Digital Silk Road, a platform that facilitates Dubai’s trade with the world. The platform is designed to simplify the import/export process by enabling users to track trade transactions, reduce transaction time and enable digital authentication in an encrypted, secure and cost-effective manner.

This mega project, aligned with Dubai 10X and designed to drive disruptive change among government entities and place Dubai 10 years ahead of leading global cities, is the result of several years of collaboration between Dubai Chambers and strategic government and private sector entities in the UAE and abroad. Following in-depth research into existing systems, we worked with leading banks, licensing authorities, free zones, port operators, and other industry stakeholders to develop a game-changing digital platform that will drastically improve and simplify trade processes and procedures.

The Digital Silk Road has the potential to reshape the global trading system as it will connect with similar digital trade platforms covering other markets around the world. Ultimately, it will elevate Dubai’s position as a business hub in the global arena and fast-track the emirate’s progress toward achieving its 5-year foreign trade target of $545 billion.

How successful is Dubai Chambers in receiving international attention for its initiatives?

Since Dubai Chambers was restructured last year into three chambers – namely Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai International Chamber, and Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, the organization has expanded its efforts to promote Dubai as a preferred business hub and attract multinational companies, startups, and scaleups from around the world. Earlier this year, Dubai Chambers launched the Dubai Global mega initiative that leverages a network of international offices and public and private sector partners to assist companies with their entry into the Dubai market.

As Dubai continues to open up its economy and introduce new incentives and advantages, we are increasingly seeing a surge in inquiries from investors and businesspeople from around the world who are keen to explore business opportunities in the emirate and leverage its strategic geographic position to expand its global reach.

Do you think the adoption of blockchain technology eliminates vulnerabilities in the global trading system?

Trade is one of the key sectors where blockchain is expected to create major business benefits and impact. By creating a digital record in real-time, blockchain technology has proven to be extremely valuable for global supply chains associated with international trade. For example, blockchain seamlessly facilitates transactions made between exporters and importers using a trusted system that doesn’t involve a third party.

Trade sector stakeholders are using blockchain to build trust, and make trade systems more efficient, secure, agile, and able to deal with future challenges. This is a positive for traders, governments, and citizens as such platforms become the go-to channels to drive revenue and boost trade.

Looking at other blockchain-based trade portals that are already up and running such as Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform and the Open Trade Blockchain, we are encouraged to see promising results such as increased trade volumes and enhanced efficiency and security of trade transactions. The future potential of these systems is tremendous, especially given the fact that they are linking China and Belt and Road countries digitally in a brand new and innovative way.

We believe that Dubai’s Digital Silk Road can do all of that and more as the emirate has everything it needs to digitize its trade system and connect it with its global counterparts, such as advanced IT and logistics infrastructure, thriving innovative business eco-system, strategic geographic position connecting markets across Eurasia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as strong confidence among global businesses and investors.

Which are the top enterprises (public or private) and entities supporting Dubai’s blockchain ambitions?

There has been a lot of movement from both public and private sector players to support Dubai’s strategic ambitions to become a global innovation hub and knowledge-based economy. Government entities across the emirate have adopted blockchain solutions as part of their efforts to digitize services and this has enabled the emirate to achieve its vision of becoming 100% paperless.

Several leading cryptocurrency firms have relocated their operations to Dubai in recent years. This trend is a testament to the growing confidence in Dubai as a digital economy hub that fosters innovation and provides an ideal environment where blockchain companies can set up a base, thrive, and grow.

Despite such progress, the government of Dubai continues to raise the bar and set out new targets as it strives to build a thriving digital economy and position the city as one of the Silicon Valleys of the world. Recently unveiled, the Dubai Metaverse Strategy aims to attract more than 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies to the city, in addition to creating more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030.

Does Dubai Chambers facilitate talks between UAE and other countries for collaborations based on these emerging technologies?

International cooperation is a key area of focus for Dubai Chambers and the three chambers operating under its umbrella. We are leveraging global exhibitions such as GITEX GLOBAL 2022 to provide a platform for innovative startups and digital companies from other markets to showcase their solutions, collaborate, and connect with potential business partners and investors.

To add to that, through Dubai International Chamber and the Dubai Global initiative, we are working to expand economic cooperation between business communities in Dubai and abroad across new emerging sectors and fields such as AI, blockchain, Web3, and the metaverse, fintech, and health-tech, among others. New roadshows, events, programs, and initiatives have been launched to create such collaboration opportunities and attract high-tech companies and startups to Dubai that can support the emirate’s innovation agenda.