Key Financial Institutions Underscore Dubai is “Open for Business”


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Hosted by the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, U.A.E. Consul General in New York H.E. Amna Almheiri and leadership from Dubai International Financial Centre and Standard Chartered Bank showcased the financial prowess of Dubai during a luncheon on 24 May 2022. 50 business executives and government officials were in attendance, including H.E. Essa Kazim,  the Governor of DIFC, and Arif Amiri, DIFC’s CEO.

Representing the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s Board of Directors, Stacey Bernards, Vice President of Government Relations at Honeywell, spoke of the importance of the bilateral relationship and Dubai as a regional hub. Moreover, she elaborated on the ways Honeywell has leveraged Dubai and the U.A.E.’s geographic position, connectivity, and hard and soft infrastructure to do business throughout the broader region.

H.E. Amna Almheiri highlighted the U.S.-U.A.E. partnership and the positive attributes of the U.A.E. as a place to live, work, and do business. Her Excellency referred to particular programs such as new visa schemes and the adoption of advanced technology when describing the increasing ease of doing business in the U.A.E. She also emphasized the numerous areas of bilateral U.S.-U.A.E. cooperation, including climate change and space. Moreover, she stressed the keen focus the U.A.E. is placing on highlighting the important role of women and gender equality.

Salmaan Jaffery, Chief Business Development Officer at DIFC Authority, provided an overview of Dubai’s role as a global financial center and DIFC’s uniqueness as a free zone for businesses. Jaffery spotlighted market access, innovation, and talent as reasons for Dubai and DIFC’s success, emphasizing the truly global position that the DIFC has assumed.

Picking up this theme, Ali Hassan, Senior Representative for Europe and North America at DIFC Authority, elaborated on the world-class amenities that DIFC offers businesses that set up in its premises. He said that companies turn to DIFC because of its adherence to international standards and the financial “ecosystem” it has built.

Steven Cranwell, Chief Executive Officer & Regional Head of Client Coverage Americas at Standard Chartered Bank, discussed the services Standard Chartered Bank offers its global clients in Africa and the Middle East.  He spoke of Standard Chartered’s network as one of its key differentiators, and he said Standard Chartered leverages Dubai as a gateway to Africa and other global markets. 

In turn, Sarmad Lone, Regional Head, Client Coverage Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking for Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank, enumerated the many reasons a financial powerhouse like Standard Chartered Bank chose Dubai and the DIFC to be the home of its regional headquarters, with over 1,000 employees in the DIFC alone. Sarmad noted the increasing global appeal of the U.A.E. as a place to do business, and lauded the country’s adept handling of the pandemic.

During a discussion with Business Council Vice President David Greenhalgh, panelists also elaborated on the significance of the U.A.E.’s Projects of the 50 and noted how these social and societal reforms will go a long way in further increasing the U.A.E.’s global appeal for business. 

The Q & A session of the luncheon discussion also touched on various subjects important to businesses in the U.A.E., such as the public listing of state-owned companies, green finance, and sustainability. Guests also inquired about Dubai’s welcoming atmosphere for startups in various verticals, particularly fintech. The session ended with a guest providing a testimonial on his company’s experience setting up shop in Dubai, and all panelists agreeing the main takeway is that “Dubai is open for business.” 

For more information on the Business Council’s programming in the financial sector, please contact Ameer Alsamman at