Dutch Consulate Dubai

It was finally time for our first excursion of the Study Tour: the Dutch Consulate in Dubai. However, due to renovations at their office, we, unfortunately, could not visit the consulate at their office close to Palm Jumeirah. Therefore, two representatives of the Dutch consulate visited us at the rooftop theatre room of our hotel. Jeroen Schillings and Nienke Gelderloos work as Economic Advisors at the Dutch Consulate. They started by explaining what the Dutch Consulate does: in general, they represent Dutch people living and working in Dubai & representing the Netherlands in Dubai. Their work is varied and can range from assisting dutch people with their passports to helping and advising Dutch companies active in Dubai. Since Jeroen and Nienke are working as economic advisors, they are mainly doing this.

As economic advisors, they have active and reactive tasks. Active tasks include organizing trade missions between Dubai & the Netherlands and matchmaking between companies in Dubai & the Netherlands. Matchmaking is always done from a facilitating role. Matchmaking helps dutch companies find suitable business partners in Dubai. Reactive tasks include advising dutch companies about the business climate or answering questions from companies about the market in Dubai or problems that these companies are facing.

An example of advice the consulate gives to businesses is how to do responsible business concerning fair labour. This deals with ensuring that people working on projects by these dutch companies are treated and paid fairly. The consulate found that dutch companies in Dubai have a noticeable drive to do fair business. Another example of advice the consulate gave is that opening a bank account is still very difficult in Dubai. There are strict laws to avoid money laundering and tax evasion in Dubai, which results in providing much information, making the process difficult. The consulate advises Dutch companies on this matter. An example of a problem that companies address to the consulate was also given; in construction, it can happen that the work done is not paid for by the client. To avoid losing future projects, a careful response is required, in which the consulates helps by giving advice.

The whole session with the consulate was structured as a Q&A. Many different questions were asked, resulting in learning many different things about Dubai. From living in Dubai, dealing with the heat, and education to the political system, labour laws and activities of the dutch consulate. To avoid making a list of all the different things we learned, this visit report is concluded with some interesting things we learned during the Q&A session.

While having a national government in the UAE, emirates do not always work well together due to the federal system. A remarking example is that the Dubai metro line stops at the border of the Dubai emirate, while it would likely be beneficial to extend this metro line as many people commute from Dubai to Sharjah, the neighbouring emirate. A metro line would likely decrease traffic flows to this emirate from Dubai. Also, we learned that Abu Dhabi is politically leading while the economic power lies in Dubai. Dubai is more open to business, while Abu Dhabi is more conservative. Dubai is taking more risks, which in the past resulted in the Dubai debt crisis when afterwards, Abu Dhabi had to help Dubai. We learned that food security became even more important in Dubai after the Covid-19 crisis when supply chains were disrupted, as Dubai imports 90% of its food. There is much collaboration with the Netherlands on this topic as Netherland is the second largest food exporter. These were among the things we learned during this interesting Q&A session. It was a great start-off to the study tour!