DMCC – the world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise – registered a record breaking 2025 new companies in 2020, the highest number of registrations in 5 years. Despite an overall business environment shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, the record-breaking registrations are a testament to Dubai’s continued appeal to investors and the trust they place in the world’s leading Free Zone.
DMCC’s strong performance is primarily due to the Business Support Package launched in March 2020 that saw interest from companies in 149 countries. This was the business hub’s largest ever commercial offer, offering a wide range of incentives and value added services to both existing and new companies in the Free Zone.
Supporting its member companies in the community, more than 8,000 member companies availed over 13,000 offers and incentives granted throughout 2020.
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, said: “2020 was a year like no other, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every society, business and country. Despite the countless challenges at our doorstep, the UAE’s visionary leadership and prompt and decisive actions meant that our economy remained resilient throughout. DMCC’s strong performance, which saw 2025 companies set up in our Free Zone during a global crisis, is a clear indication that the UAE and Dubai remain the chosen place to do business. We know that 2021 will not be without its obstacles, but we are optimistic about our growth trajectory and our continued ability to attract foreign direct investment to the Emirate.”
Ecosystem of choice
The record-breaking number of new company registrations is also the result of significant enhancements to DMCC’s customer service, its simplified and fully digitalised set up processes and easier onboarding. By providing customers a seamless, digital company set-up experience, and significant focus on digital marketing, the Free Zone has seen more than a 50% drop in walk-ins and physical visits, with existing and new members preferring to conduct their transactions online. 95% of new companies in the Free Zone start their journey with DMCC digitally. In recognition of its continued efforts to enhance its ecosystem, DMCC was named Global Free Zone of the Year by the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine for the sixth year in a row in October 2020.
Feryal Ahmadi, Chief Operating Officer, DMCC, said: “DMCC set out with great ambitions at the start of 2020, and quickly had to adapt to the reality of the pandemic. Beyond successfully reaching our targets, we made sure that both new and existing companies in the Free Zone received relief and support during the challenging year. Our focused market outreach, our emphasis on a digital first customer experience and our unmatched support to the community, yielded record-breaking results – and supported our existing member companies. The confidence that partners and members place in DMCC will enable us to boost the future of trade through Dubai and strengthen our position as a leading global business hub in the year ahead.”
Promoting trade virtually
In light of global travel restrictions, DMCC took its flagship Made for Trade Live roadshow online hosting 19 virtual sessions in key markets including China, Israel, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Angola, South America, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK. During these virtual roadshows, attendees were familiarised with the benefits and opportunities of setting up in Dubai and DMCC’s unique and thriving business ecosystem.
DMCC’s Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer also hosted a series of virtual briefings with UAE Ambassadors and representatives across key markets, including China, India, the UK, Germany, Canada and Colombia. During the calls, ways to enhance bilateral trade ties with the respective countries were discussed, in a bid to boost commercial activity in Dubai.
DMCC also shifted all of its networking events and learning seminars online. Its member companies were provided access to 83 webinars, averaging two sessions per week. Overall, DMCC gathered 11,000 attendees virtually in 2020.
Ahmad Hamza, Executive Director – Free Zone, DMCC, said: “DMCC’s ability to achieve record-breaking registrations during one of the most challenging years in modern times is a testament to the trust placed in us by the global business community and the attractiveness of the ecosystem we provide. By offering our largest business relief package in our history and ensuring a seamless, fully digitalised set up process, we remained the business hub of choice, attracting companies of all sizes, sectors and origins. As the world’s leading Free Zone, we will continue to enhance our offering to respond to market demand and promote tradeflows through Dubai.”
Strengthening ties with key hubs
Through its Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), DMCC signed a collaboration agreement with the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) in September 2020 to promote bilateral trade opportunities and drive innovation in the diamond industry. Shortly after, DMCC inaugurated its representative office in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Israel. The new office will support Israeli businesses, from all industries and sectors, interested in setting up a presence in Dubai and DMCC’s award-winning Free Zone.
China remains a key target market for DMCC, and saw a 20% increase year-on-year in Chinese companies joining the Free Zone in 2020. In November 2020, DMCC inaugurated a representative office in Shenzhen, China, which is expected to usher in a new wave of business opportunities to Dubai.
Robust commodity performance
Following the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to the DMCC Tea Centre and DMCC Coffee Centre in June 2020, DMCC announced its plans to expand both facilities and its intention to triple output, increase services and boost capacity.
In November 2020, the DDE hosted the largest rough diamond tender ever to take place in the UAE. A total of 379,912 carats of rough diamonds were sold, valued at USD 87.47 million (AED 321.29 million) with 115 winning customers. Over 250 companies participated in the tender and 500 individuals flew into Dubai to take part in the event with delegates from India, Hong Kong, Russia, Israel, Belgium and Lebanon.