Dubai, UAE: According to an official communiqué from Expo 2020 Dubai, 20% of the Expo’s total direct and indirect spend, representing more than AED five billion in contracts, will be allocated to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), both local and international. The announcement, the communiqué said, is the latest in a series of SME-focused operational and legacy-driven initiatives to deliver an exceptional World Expo for participants and visitors, as well as the United Arab Emirate’s wider diversification efforts.
The initiative, the communiqué said, complements the country’s efforts to support the local SME sector, and is a part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s ongoing interactions with the business community. It further said that the interactions include the recently concluded 10th edition of BusinessConnect, which invited members of the local, regional and international SME community to learn more about the opportunities for engagement with Expo 2020 Dubai, and to discuss the evolution of the procurement process to better enable their participation in the planning and delivery of the event.
The UAE’s SME Council, the communiqué highlighted, continues to work with various stakeholders to identify the right mechanisms for SMEs to draw upon the financial facilities and business opportunities available within the country. SMEs, it further said, reportedly represent almost 94% of the total number of companies operating in the country, with 400,000 SMEs contributing 60% to the nation’s GDP – a figure that is expected to increase to 70% by 2021.
Commenting on the announcement, His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE SME Council, said: “SMEs are already playing a central role in the UAE’s drive towards cultivating a thriving private sector and diversified economy, which makes SME empowerment a strategic priority for the Government. This effort is also aligned with the UAE Vision 2021 to transition to a knowledge-based economy that fosters creativity and innovation.”
Al Mansoori added that the UAE’s local and federal authorities are working closely together to further strengthen the local SME sector and provide entrepreneurs and SMEs with the support they need to fulfil their role in the economy. The minister, the communiqué revealed, also affirmed that the government’s efforts are underpinned by Federal Law No 2 of 2014 on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Projects, which allocates a minimum of 10% of all federal contracts to SMEs. The law also stipulates that companies, in which the Federal Government owns a 25% stake, must contract local SMEs for at least five percent of their total purchasing, servicing and consulting needs.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020, dubbed the event as an “enabler” that is “constantly looking for opportunities to maximise their integration into the wider UAE economy”. To support her statement, she said that the e-Sourcing Portal had witnessed strong activity, where of the 6,196 suppliers registered, 2,418 are SMEs, and of the 787 contracts already awarded, 320 have been won by SMEs.
“The integration of SMEs into the delivery of Expo 2020 Dubai,” Al Hashimy said, “is set to continue to stimulate employment, strengthen existing industries, improve SME competitiveness and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic growth. This will be an important part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy for the UAE and wider region.”