The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Inaugural Dubai Diamond Conference Kicks Off

Dubai — The inaugural Dubai Diamond Conference began today amid calls for smart partnerships between African producers, Asian polishers and a vast network of international mining financiers.

Officially opening the conference at the Almas Tower here, the Foreign Minister for International Organisations in the United Arab Emirates, Dr Saeed Al-Shamsi, said the meeting was meant to promote joint projects, strengthen partnerships and encourage the sharing of knowledge.

"Dubai is at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe, and plays an important role in the diamond industry. We believe that partnerships are the foundation of success," said Dr Al-Shamsi.

Delegates here are convinced that the global diamond industry is going through a historic transformation, with the centre of gravity shifting significantly to Africa, the Middle East, India and China. Zimbabwe, described as the biggest diamond find in a century, has been urged to take full advantage of this shift.

Mr Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of the Dubail Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), said interaction between diamond producers, cutters, polishers and financial institutions should lead to insightful discussions.

He emphasized the importance of shrewd planning in the diamond industry, saying those companies and countries who would survive the global financial recession were the ones with proper business strategies.

Citing the example of Dubai, which has developed into a leading diamond trading centre within a few years, he said there was no substitute for vision.

"The challenge in Dubai is not the money; the challenge is in finding people who believe in the vision-people who believe in the diamond project," he added.

Mr Bin Sulayem said the diamond volumes traded in Dubai showed that the Emirates were firmly established as a major player in global business.

"To illustrate our success, we often use the value of diamonds traded through Dubai. Prior to the establishement of DMCC in 2002, approximately US$5m worth of diamonds came through Dubai. In 2011, that value had grown to an impressive US$39 billion," he said.

Mr Bin Sulayem congratulated Zimbabwe for hosting a successful Zimbabwe Diamond Conference in Victoria Falls last November, saying the meeting provided the world with lots of inspiration.

"The turnout at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference was phenomenal. Zimbabwe's diamond industry is growing. We loved the speakers in Victoria Falls so much that we even brought the master of ceremony here," said Mr Bin Sulayem, in reference to a Zimbabwean, Mr Emmanuel Manyika, who has been honoured with the task of directing proceedings at this conference as master of ceremony.

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