Dubai is intensifying efforts to attract international association headquarters, as it aims to build an association community to drive its knowledge economy forward.

More than 40 licences have now been issued for associations to trade and operate from Dubai as many take advantage of the incentives offered by the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) to expand their footprint in the Middle East and beyond.

Steen Jakobsen, Director, Dubai Business Events, believes the presence of international associations plays an important role in Dubai’s transformation into a knowledge economy: “Associations drive education, training and research, and they offer a platform for experts and scientists to network and exchange knowledge. The more international associations we can attract to Dubai, the stronger a knowledge hub the emirate will become.”

Associations across disciplines from technology and healthcare to education and finance are increasingly pursuing opportunities in the region to further develop their activities, share best practices and develop membership.

The DAC was established in 2014 by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Business Events and the Dubai World Trade Centre. It provides practical support to global associations to establish a base in Dubai, with the goal of adding to the emirate’s intellectual capital and contributing to its sustainable development. The Centre’s efforts complement the Dubai Strategic Plan 2021, and the wider UAE National Innovation Strategy, which fosters innovation in seven main sectors: Renewable energy, Transport, Education, Health, Technology, Water and Space.

At a recent event in London outlining the DAC package available to UK-based organisations, Jakobsen noted: “The oil won’t last forever and this is part of the drive to be a knowledge hub.”

The London event, ‘Achieving global growth’, incorporated learning labs where association managers debated the upsides and pitfalls of a Middle Eastern base, discussing potential membership growth, competition, return on investment and cultural issues with members of the Dubai team as well as those who had already made the move.

The low cost of a foothold in Dubai – just US$1000 buys a desk and an address – was viewed as attractive, as well as the emirate’s position as a strategic hub of trade and finance at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and its stimulating investment environment.

Dubai will now hold the Dubai Association Conference, its first conference for the not-for-profit sector, in December. Already 125 associations have registered for the event, which will act as a platform for dialogue and education for organisations interested in exploring opportunities in the Middle East.


(via AMI, DAC)