DUBAI: Dubai Economy has remained at the forefront of addressing the challenges faced by businesses and the economy of the emirate in general in pursuance to the preventive measures relating to COVID-19. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Dubai Economy continued its efforts in ensuring business continuity and competitiveness in the emirate and strengthening Dubai’s economic resilience, in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who said: “We have entered a new stage, the stage for a gradual return to economic life. Every person is responsible. All institutions and sectors are involved in protecting their staff. Health will remain a priority and responsibility. Returning the wheel of the economy is strategic and necessary.”
Around 1,574 firms took part in an impact survey hosted by Dubai Economy’s single business engagement platform EngageDXB polling the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and for a programme to assess the future economy. The purpose was to identify the challenges and repercussions of the pandemic within a short span of time and ensure the flexibility and sustainability of the emirate’s economy through consultations and maintain continuous engagement with ten business groups comprising over 2,000 companies.
Proactively moving to assess the challenges ahead, Dubai Economy launched a business impact survey in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic in Dubai through which about 1,324 companies took part across three stages, distributed as follows: 702 companies in the first stage during March, 251 companies in the second stage during April, while the third phase of the survey included 370 companies during May.
The survey, still underway, set out to explore various aspects, such as the size of the COVID-19 impact on businesses and employees alike, the role of economic incentives in supporting business continuity, and future prospects as well as expectations of companies and their readiness to deal with the crisis. Companies and businesses were evaluated based on their size, type, and nature of investment; revenue; top three concerns at present; changes in human resource management policies; layoffs; changes in employee salaries; corporate financial flows; sales; and awareness of the situation as well as changes taking place beyond COVID-19.
Interacting actively with the business community and understanding their challenges and impact as well as finding innovative solutions for them are the focal points of Dubai Economy’s efforts as people and businesses in the emirate are preparing for the post-COVID-19 phase.
Among the 370 companies surveyed in the third phase, 67 percent were micro-firms, 21 percent were small companies, 4 percent medium-sized companies, and 8 percent were large companies. Business owners/CEOs accounted for 87 percent of survey participants, managerial & supervisory personnel 11 percent, and experts, advisors, and consultants 2 percent.
Foreign investors accounted for 30 percent of total participants in the third stage, and, sector-wise, 32 percent came from retail and wholesale, 14 percent from food and beverages (F&B), 11 percent from trading, 10 percent from services, and 6 percent each from the real estate, tourism & events, and ICT sectors. The remaining were distributed across various sectors, including finance, construction, education, manufacturing, and others.
The responses received identified the nature of incentive plans and initiatives needed in the emirate, which in turn will optimally assist companies in restarting growth and developing strategies that will also contribute to overall economic recovery. The next stages of the survey will continue to monitor and measure the business impact during each stage of the market re-opening as well as identify the required precautionary measures.
Dubai Economy has also been using online platforms to sustain and accelerate its Business Community Engagement during the pandemic crisis. Representatives of 10 business groups with over 2,000 Companies in the retail, foods, automobile, wholesale textile & garment, banking, and manufacturing sectors have been engaged to seek feedback on the challenges and the way forward. Dubai Economy also met with business representatives to discuss concerns and co-develop the safety guidelines and protocols that are ensuring the safe re-opening of businesses. Consultations have been held with 52 Shopping Malls, 16 Retailers, 20 F&B manufacturers, five food aggregators, and five banks.
Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO Corporate Strategic Affairs in Dubai Economy, commented: “We have an active Business Community Engagement programme in place to serve the interests of the various business groups and councils. We listen to feedback and ideas to improve our economy, especially as the COVID 19 crisis has further strengthened the engagement process, where both the business community and Dubai Economy have consulted each other to share ideas and feedback. Our digital engagement through EngageDXB has strengthened and enabled us to reach out to the business community instantly to hear and work on recommendations to resolve on-ground challenges. EngageDXB will be the business engagement platform for the economy to sustain public and private sector relationships.”
EngageDXB is the first virtual platform created by Dubai Economy to collaborate and engage with the business communities in the emirate. In line with Dubai Government’s aspirations to facilitate business and community outreach, EngageDXB introduced new enhanced features and services, including engaging polls and idea pooling, where all businesses and residents of Dubai are encouraged to share their sentiments, ideas, or suggestions on initiatives that can be introduced to improve overall social and economic well-being in the emirate.
All the latest guidelines and circulars from Dubai government entities can also be found on the EngageDXB website to help businesses stay well-informed on COVID-19-related regulations.
Dubai Economy is also engaging with businesses to understand their future-readiness and resilience based on an assessment framework established by the Future Economy Department. Under the programme, 250 businesses have already been engaged, and with businesses stepping into a post-COVID-19 future, innovative product and services, new business models, and new economies are emerging that will be critical for businesses to thrive in the new normal.