Gautam Sashittal was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) in February 2014. DMCC is a government of Dubai Authority dedicated to establishing Dubai as the global gateway for commodity trade. Home to over 9,000 companies, the DMCC Free Zone is the largest and fastest growing Free Zone in the UAE. DMCC’s stewardship has seen Dubai grow into the third largest diamond trading centre in the world and a leading global bullion hub. In the short space of 12 years, DMCC has established a unique eco-system to support a range of commodity sectors, including a robust regulatory framework and innovative physical and financial infrastructure and services.
Mr. Sashittal brings more than 25 years of business experience across a range of industries. He spent a large part of his career in the oil and gas industry with Royal Dutch Shell plc, and prior to joining DMCC, was the CFO of the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX), the Middle East’s first and fastest growing derivatives exchange. Mr. Sashittal remains a member of the board of directors of DGCX.
Q. Being at the helm of DMCC as its CEO must be exciting in these times! Not every free zone can boast of overtaking JAFZ!
A. Yes, of course it is encouraging to see the phenomenal growth DMCC has experienced to date but it is also important to note, as our Executive Chairman, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, often says, it is all about collaboration and continuous contribution to the overall success of Dubai, We therefore partner with many organisations including Free Zones to ensure we are at the forefront of driving FDI to the Emirate as well as fostering growth to continuously enhance our products, services, regulatory initiatives and infrastructure.
The DMCC determination to succeed comes from our passion and drive to create a sustainable and optimal international environment for trade and enterprise for all our member companies.
Q. Is there some strategy that sets DMCC apart from the crowd and makes investors look nowhere else but at Almas Tower? What factors do you attribute to this?
A. As the Government of Dubai Authority dedicated to ensuring Dubai is the global gateway for commodity trade, DMCC facilitates trade across a range of sectors including gold, diamonds, pearls, precious metals and tea.
Trade facilitation for us means that we provide the physical, market and regulatory infrastructure required to set up and operate a thriving commodities marketplace. Today we are the largest and fastest growing Free Zone in the UAE and have successfully placed Dubai at the centre of the global commodities trading map. On average, around 200 companies become members of the Free Zone every month, more than six companies per day, of which over 95% are new to Dubai. We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the already business-friendly Dubai marketplace for everyone from SMEs through to multi-nationals. For instance, we have recently launched the DMCC Free Zone Member portal, which enables our members to manage all their Free Zone affairs online and support the Government’s declared strategy of making Dubai a Smart City.
Q. What steps is the DMCC taking to integrate consultants and business advisors into its growth matrix?
A. Consultants and business advisors are already an integral part of our growth strategy. In many cases of new company set-up potential members turn first to a consultant for an assessment of which Free Zone will be best suited to their requirements. Many specialised sectors such as the diamond industry often come to us through referrals from consultants and advisory firms who are intimately familiar with benefits on offer when joining DMCC.
There are a large number of consultancy businesses based in the DMCC Free Zone who all benefit from being part of a business community with over 9,000 DMCC member companies from start-ups to multi-nationals across all sectors. Needless to say, there are many new business opportunities available for consultants within the Free Zone in addition to access to new markets whether emerging or more established.
Q. Considering the dizzying standards you have already set, what product offerings can we expect from DMCC in the coming months to cater to specific and general categories of investors?
A. If we look at infrastructure capacity, we recently announced that the DMCC Free Zone registered 1,027 member companies in the first six months of 2014, bringing the total number of companies operating in the free zone to over 8,865, a 30% increase compared to the same period in 2013.
In order to accommodate this growth, we also announced a major expansion with the building of the ‘Burj 2020 District’, with the world’s tallest commercial tower, ‘Burj 2020’ as its centrepiece. The ‘Burj 2020 District’ is well underway with four global design firms currently participating in a Masterplan design competition with ground-breaking planned in 2015.
In addition, the DMCC is also bringing to market a 14-floor ‘glass box’ style building, ‘One JLT’, which is being constructed in the heart of the free zone and is due for completion in 2015.
Both projects will cater to the increased demand of large multi-business and multi-national companies seeking to domicile their operations in an efficient, single-owner, commercial space.
When it comes to product development projects such as our member services, we always look at adding value whether it means improving efficiencies through customer-friendly technology such as the DMCC Free Zone member portal or by making premium services available to our members through third party agreements such as health insurance or IT services. We also offer commercial freehold property or retail space for rent or lease. As our members businesses evolve they can choose between fitted space, shell and core, single or multiple units and entire floors. Serviced offices, serviced desks and flexi-desk solutions are also available.
Q. How has the current economic upturn in the UAE influenced businesses setting up generally in UAE based free zones and specifically in DMCC?
A. Over the past 18 months Dubai has seen a surge in activity, led principally by the real estate, tourism and trade sectors. The trend is continuing and it is expected that the economy will continue on its current growth trajectory as the city moves ahead with its infrastructure and construction plans for Dubai World Expo 2020.
The DMCC has and will play an important role in this growth, enabling Dubai to grow and position itself as the global gateway for commodities trade by building the infrastructure required for industry participants to trade with confidence.
Q. What does the CEO of DMCC foresee in the next decade for DMCC, Dubai and the UAE?
A. Dubai is a city of never-ending opportunities, changing and growing by the day, where limits are always being pushed and records broken. It never ceases to amaze me what businesses and individuals are able to accomplish here. To bring it back to DMCC, the journey does not end here.
Earlier this year DMCC was named Free Zone of the Year for SMEs – MENA and Free Zone of the Year for SMEs UAE by fDi Magazine in their Middle East Free Zones of the Year rankings and awards for 2014 / 2015. This was a very accurate and welcome recognition of where we are today. That said, we always look at supply and demand which is why we are also focussing on catering to the growing appetite for large scale floor plate space for regional corporates and multi-nationals with the ‘One JLT’ and the ‘Burj 2020 District’ projects.
Today, DMCC is the UAE’s largest and fastest growing Free Zone as well as the only international commodity centre and dedicated market place where we accommodate every facet of the commodity trade business in one Free Zone. Everything we do at DMCC has a longer term strategic view in order for us to stay relevant now and in the future whether it is enhancing the customer experience, innovation, diversification of our business portfolio or strengthening trading ties internationally.
We embrace change and thrive on strong international competition as this is what makes the organisation dynamic, driven and nimble in an exceedingly fast-moving market.