Dubai, UAE, 12th October, 2011: The UAE’s position as the world’s biggest re-exporter of rice can be reinforced by an increase in imports of the grain from South East Asia, according to the driving force behind an important new industry event taking place in Dubai next month.
Dr Faisal Ali Mousa believes Dubai Rice 2011 can help persuade Vietnam and Cambodia to make the UAE their regional hub for rice exports into the Middle East and North Africa, and much further afield.
The chairman of Ideal Idea Events Management sees potential for major growth in the value of rice traded through the UAE, which stood at $520.8 million last year – representing around 90% of the world’s re-exports of rice – based on total rice imports to the Emirates of US$1.3 billion.
His optimism is supported by the fact that both Vietnam, the world’s second largest exporter of rice, and its near neighbor Cambodia, which has recently returned to the international trading arena, are both sending large Government-led delegations to Rice Dubai 2011.
Taking place from November 3-5 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, the international exhibition and conference is held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade. The event is officially endorsed by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre and supports the causes of the United Nations World Food Programme.
It is assembling a powerful exhibitor line-up of rice producers and millers, exports and importers and leading branded dealers as well as thousands of trade visitors, including government and corporate buyers, wholesalers, traders and re-exporters.
Dr Mousa said: "The event is designed to reinforce the UAE’s position as the world’s largest re-exporter of rice, and a hub between east and west for rice trading which presents major opportunities for producers to impact key markets in the Middle East and North Africa, and other parts of the world.
"All major rice exporting countries are participating, and together we’re creating a global stage for visitors to negotiate lucrative deals, build strong and lasting business partnerships and increase their customer base across the region."
He says the keys to the UAE’s ability to build on its prominence in rice trading are its prime location making it an ideal trading hub, ease of customs procedures and world class storage, handling and packaging facilities, combined with strong financial inducements.
"There are very attractive financial incentives for major brands that are looking to start packaging rice in the UAE," said Dr Mousa. "At the same time, the UAE is home to many outward-looking private investors, as well as being the gateway to a region where governments and progressive businessmen are looking towards investing in rice fields in Vietnam, Cambodia and other Far East countries."
Figures from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade showed that in 2010 the biggest exporters of rice to the Emirates were India (US$908.4 million) and Pakistan ($US354.8 million), representing 67% and 26% of the total received from 33 countries.
Rice imports from Vietnam amounted to just US$1.8 million, while Cambodia had yet to begin sending rice to the UAE after ending a 30-year export hiatus caused by war, political isolation, and a decimated agricultural sector.
Dr Mousa and his support team have visited both countries in the last two months for top level meetings to convince government officials and rice exporters to put their faith in the UAE as a lucrative trading hub.
"The fact that both countries are now sending strong delegations to Rice Dubai 2011 is an important step, and we’re confident that their visit will bring positive results," he said.
The gains to be made from Vietnam are highlighted by the fact that Vietnamese companies earned US$3 billion from exporting around 6.7 million tonnes of rice last year.
Meanwhile, the Royal Government of Cambodia plans to transform the country into a rice basket, expanding cultivated areas to produce a potential harvest of 12.25 million tones. This would bring a paddy surplus of 4 million tonnes, with at least 1 million tonnes for export.
While the long grain basmati rice from India and Pakistan is generally preferred by Arab and Asian consumers, Dr Mousa believes better marketing combined with the UAE’s logistical advantages can increase demand in the region for the jasmine rice, and other varieties, of South East Asia.