Love it or hate it, you would have had to live on a deserted island during the last 20 years not to have heard about Dubai and the extraordinary developments that have taken place there. It is the 4th most visited city in the World, after London, and is located in a region that certainly cannot and should not be ignored.
Whether you are a part of a multinational company, or you run a small enterprise in Essex, opportunities exist for all.
I first met Tim Kay, the MD of 3D FilaPrint, in 2017 at Essex Chamber’s ‘Business Expo’ in Basildon. With a booth opposite our own, I was impressed with the intricate and colourful 3D models on his stand. It was a busy event and we only managed a brief chat, but exchanged business cards, as most people do at such events. Nothing more transpired until over 12 months later, in November 2018, when we met again during a 1-2-1 Middle East Export Clinic that was organised in partnership with the Chamber.
So much had changed in those 12 months, including developments that could definitely benefit from Tim’s 3D filaments. Growth in construction & tourism continued to drive the UAE’s demand for high quality products and on the strength of this, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, launched ‘The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy’. It is a unique global initiative that aims to exploit technology and promote the status of the UAE & Dubai as a leading hub of 3D printing technology by 2030.
In fact by 2025, based on Dubai Municipality regulations, every new building in Dubai will be constructed using 25% of 3D printed products & materials. The move will begin this year, starting at 2% with a gradual increase towards the strategic goal. Dubai Health Authority has also committed to regulating and setting the standards to use the technology in the health sector and will explore the use of 3D printed prosthetic limbs, 3D printed teeth, and 3D printed hearing aids in public clinics and hospitals.
This information was certainly music to Tim’s ears and resulted in him commissioning us to identify specific opportunities, market 3D FilaPrint’s product range to our network of contacts and, ultimately, set up meetings with potential buyers and representatives during a visit to the UAE.
As anticipated, there was plenty of interest in Tim’s products and within a few weeks, Tim and I were flying to the UAE to visit companies that we had identified as having significant interest and were keen to meet us in person. Telecoms and Video Conferencing are all well and good and certainly have their place in the modern workplace – but in the Middle East, people still like to do business face-to-face.
It was Tim’s first visit to Dubai and his excitement was palpable. I had organised a very busy and intensive visit, which would also be enjoyable. With almost 20 years of experience, living and working in the region, I elected to drive us to meetings – an experience in itself, for the uninitiated!
Staying at a modestly priced 4-star hotel in Bur Dubai, we were perfectly situated to travel between the various Emirates. Driving on 16-lane highways, past futuristic skyscrapers, into the industrial areas and desert, where the recently conceived ‘Production City’ & ‘Dubai Design District’ are located.
Traveling through an area that was once an empty desert landscape that was home to camels and Bedouin, we made our way past the EXPO 2020 site, where intense construction activity was taking place. New road and rail networks were being installed, connecting downtown Dubai to the site of the biggest event ever to held in the Arab World. This 173-day event aims to ‘Connect Minds & Create the Future’, through its themes of ‘Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability’.
At each of our meetings we were met with great warmth and enthusiasm by each of our hosts, all of whom hailed from countries from around the world - but thankfully spoke perfect English.
The desire to do business was evident and I soon realised that the world of 3D technology was inhabited by extremely creative people that are passionate about a rapidly developing and sophisticated industry that will have a major impact on every aspect of our lives as it grows.
HH Sheikh Mohammed is a undoubtedly a leader with a vision and it was clear from our meetings that his ambition to develop Dubai as a 3D Hub will be achieved very soon.
A three-day visit to Dubai certainly whetted Tim’s appetite and helped him to gain a greater understanding of the information that our initial report highlighted. However, it can only ever be the start of a journey.
Business moves very quickly in this region and companies from across the globe are making their way to this dynamic market-place, in order to carve out a niche for themselves.
Relationships are essential and visiting frequently is a crucial part of developing a new overseas markets. Yes, it can be resource intensive, in terms of time and investment, but for companies with vision, foresight and innovative products, there will always be a warm welcome from your hosts.
At Jennings International, we are delighted to work with like-minded people, with exciting products and services and a passion to succeed. It was a pleasure to be part of Tim’s and 3D FilaPrint’s first steps into the Arabian Peninsula and, I believe that with the positive responses and feedback that we received during and after our visit, Tim is well placed to take a share of a dynamic sector that is predicted to be worth $300 billion by 2025.
As well as being passionate about his business, Tim is an avid vlogger and spent a lot of time recording his first impressions of Dubai, which can be viewed on our Youtube channel: Jennings International Media.