The United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, RAs Al Khaimah, and Fujairah) grouped together in 1971 to form a federation government but are each led by their own ruler. Located on the southern shores of the Arabia Gulf, Dubai has a tradition of being a trading crossroads between East and West and that tradition is reaching new heights in today’s marketplace.
While the small Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai has less oil than is neighboring Emirates, its ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is investing huge resources (over $90 billion) to create a mind boggling center for international trade, financial services, and tourism. Hardly a month goes by without announcement of some world-class development that involves descriptions like the world's biggest or best.
Just this month, Dubai announced that the Burj Dubai, a massive office and apartment building under construction in the city, has exceeded the height of Toronto’s CN Tower to become the world’s tallest freestanding structure. Another newsworthy building is the Burj Al Arab, the sail shaped tower by the sea that is a self-proclaimed seven-star hotel.
The projects that get the most public attention are the palm-shaped, man-made peninsulas built to provide more waterfront business and residential towers (see video below). There is an indoor ski hill where tourists and citizens in this desert city can enjoy snow activities including the traditional snowball fights. The newest shopping mall, the five million square foot Dubai Mall, will open soon with billing as the world’s largest mall.
With all this money and luxury spending, it is no surprise that diamonds and jewelry are a key element of Dubai’s trade and tourism strategy. High-end jewelry brands like Tiffany, Bulgari, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels are well established in the glitziest malls. The latest arrivals on the big name jewelry scene are auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. On January 31, 2008, Christie’s will conduct its first sale of jewels and watches in Dubai with a sale the next day of art from the top Arab and Indian artists.
Dubai has its own diamond exchange, the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), the first World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) in the Arab world. It has its own grading laboratory, the Dubai Gem Certification services (DGC) and is own diamond shape, the Dubai Cut diamond, a 99 facet patented cut. The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is responsible for orchestrating Dubai’s diamond sector development.
The Dubai Diamond Exchange, a subsidiary of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), announced that rough diamond exports from Dubai topped $2.24 billion for the first half of 2007, up 17 percent from the same period last year. In 2006, Dubai diamond trade totaled more than $6 billion (4%) of the world-side jewelry market.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in particular, Dubai has positioning itself to be come the diamond capital of the world, now that it has established itself as the top diamond trade location for the Middle East. The purchasing power in the region continues to increase and the growing appetite for luxury goods, like diamonds, means that stories of Dubai diamonds will be in the news for years to come.