Dubai Di­a­mond Con­fer­ence Re­flects On In­dus­try’s Fu­ture

Solitaire - - TRADE FAIR -

The Dubai Di­a­mond Ex­change (DDE), a Dubai Multi Com­modi­ties Cen­tre (DMCC) plat­form, or­gan­ised the third edi­tion of its bi­en­nial Dubai Di­a­mond Con­fer­ence (DDC) un­der the theme ‘Shap­ing the fu­ture of an in­ter­con­nected mar­ket­place’ on Oc­to­ber 16th and 17th.

The con­fer­ence dealt with a rich agenda of sub­jects crit­i­cal to the fu­ture of the di­a­mond busi­ness world­wide and opened to its big­gest ever au­di­ence. The event brought to­gether in­ter­na­tional lead­ers of the di­a­mond in­dus­try rang­ing from African min­is­ters to traders, fi­nanciers and world-renowned jewellers.

The guest of hon­our and key­note speaker for the two-day con­fer­ence was the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of the United King­dom, David Cameron, who opened the sec­ond day of the con­fer­ence.

Ab­dul­lah Al Saleh, UAE min­istry of econ­omy, un­der­sec­re­tary of for­eign trade and in­dus­try, UAE, and DMCC’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Ahmed Bin Su­layem in­au­gu­rated the con­fer­ence, wel­com­ing top-level speak­ers and pan­el­lists from ev­ery sec­tor of the di­a­mond pipe­line and from across the world, say­ing they would pro­vide in­sights based on long ex­pe­ri­ence about the deep-seated changes af­fect­ing the busi­ness.

“It is re­ally ex­cel­lent to see that so many world-class ex­perts have trav­elled from all over the world to at­tend the third Dubai Di­a­mond Con­fer­ence. Dubai be­lieves in the di­a­mond in­dus­try’s po­ten­tial to grow and we are com­mit­ted to do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to sup­port the in­dus­try,” said Ab­dul­lah Al Saleh.

Mean­while, Bin Su­layem spoke about the crit­i­cal role the DDC has de­vel­oped in tak­ing stock of de­vel­op­ments in the in­dus­try and pro­vid­ing point­ers for how it should tackle chal­lenges as it moves for­ward. “Di­a­monds have long played an il­lus­tri­ous role in Dubai’s her­itage as a gate­way for global trade. And, in just 15 short years, Dubai has be­come the third big­gest di­a­mond trad­ing cen­tre in the world. It didn’t hap­pen by ac­ci­dent. It hap­pened be­cause we de­signed an en­vi­ron­ment that is safe, busi­ness friendly, and that con­ve­niently links pro­duc­ing and con­sum­ing mar­kets.”

Speak­ing of the fu­ture, Ahmed Bin Su­layem set the agenda on the im­por­tance of con­nect­ing with and un­der­stand­ing mil­len­ni­als as re­cent re­search found that 37% of mil­len­ni­als claim to dis­trust big busi­ness and brands. “It’s a dif­fer­ent world. And it goes be­yond just ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing. What do we as an in­dus­try have to change to bet­ter ap­peal to this de­mo­graphic?”

Among the speak­ers that ad­dressed the con­fer­ence were South Africa min­is­ter of min­eral re­sources Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, De Beers Group ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent – global sightholder sales Paul Row­ley, Kimberley Process chair Robert Owen-Jones, World Fed­er­a­tion of Di­a­mond Bourses pres­i­dent Ernest Blom, and World Di­a­mond Coun­cil act­ing pres­i­dent Stéphane Fis­chler.

The first day of the con­fer­ence tack­led two ma­jor in­dus­try is­sues: ‘Unit­ing the in­dus­try to ac­cel­er­ate ini­tia­tives driv­ing the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment agenda for­ward’, and ‘How di­a­monds fit in the new era of mil­len­ni­als’.

Blom gave the di­a­mond in­dus­try’s per­spec­tive on re­spon­si­ble min­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and sourc­ing of goods.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity is crit­i­cal for the pro­tec­tion of our planet, and from a con­sumer point of view, it has be­come the ‘new nor­mal’. Con­sumers – es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tion – are de­mand­ing this and we must show that it is a vi­tal part of our agenda.”

A de­bate on ‘How di­a­monds fit in the new era of mil­len­ni­als’ in­cluded Di­a­mond Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Jean-Marc Lieber­herr, Dhamani Jew­els CEO and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Amit Dhamani, Dimexon In­ter­na­tional di­rec­tor Ra­jiv Mehta, and Bul­gari man­ag­ing di­rec­tor – Mid­dle East & Africa Ko­lia Neveux. They dis­cussed the vi­tal im­por­tance of at­tract­ing mil­len­ni­als, a sec­tor of the mar­ket which in the US alone is es­ti­mated to have a spend­ing power of $65 bil­lion.

The sec­ond day’s high­lights in­cluded the dis­play of de Griso­gono’s ex­cep­tional 163-carat gem, a key­note speech by for­mer UK Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, the open­ing of the Neme­sis In­ter­na­tional polishing fac­tory, as well as a range of di­a­mond in­dus­try de­bates.

Panel dis­cus­sions on day two dealt with top­ics such as: ‘Lab-grown di­a­monds and their dis­clo­sure: Is there a prob­lem’; ‘Bank­a­bil­ity, trans­parency, in­no­va­tion’; brand­ing; ‘KP Re­form: A re­al­ity or a never-end­ing story?’; ‘ The im­pact of value added tax (VAT) or GST on whole­sale di­a­mond trad­ing’; and ‘ Ten­ders and auc­tions: Tem­po­rary phe­nom­e­non or new busi­ness model of the fu­ture?’

The Neme­sis state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity is seen as com­plet­ing the range of ser­vices that Dubai’s di­a­mond trade can of­fer by pro­vid­ing the high­est level of di­a­mond cut­ting.

The value of di­a­monds han­dled through Dubai has grown from $3.5 bil­lion in 2003 to over $26 bil­lion in 2016.

“We now have the com­plete pack­age, or one-stop shop,” said Bin Su­layem. “Dubai has be­come a ma­jor im­porter of rough di­a­monds which can now be cut and pol­ished by master crafts­men. This joins the world-class fa­cil­i­ties that the Al­mas Tower of­fers, in­clud­ing cus­toms, in­sur­ance, bank­ing, a Kimberley Process of­fice, and in­ter­na­tional ten­ders of a wide range of rough di­a­monds.”

Mean­while, Christie’s dis­played the 163.41-carat emer­ald-cut di­a­mond owned by the Geneva-based lux­ury jew­eller de Griso­gono. The auc­tion house said it is the largest D-colour flaw­less di­a­mond to ever come to auc­tion and will be of­fered for sale on Novem­ber 14th as a high­light of Christie’s Mag­nif­i­cent Jew­els sale in Geneva.

The di­a­mond, cut from a 404-carat rough dis­cov­ered in Fe­bru­ary 2016 in the Lulo mine in An­gola, was dis­played at the con­fer­ence as part of a world tour. It is the 27th big­gest rough white di­a­mond ever dis­cov­ered and the largest in An­gola, said Fawaz Gru­osi, founder of de Griso­gono, who pur­chased the rough di­a­mond.

As part of the panel on ‘Lab-grown di­a­monds and their dis­clo­sure’, GSI co-founder Deb­bie Azar said, “We use mul­ti­ple ma­chines for syn­thetic screen­ing and test­ing. It is not suf­fi­cient to use only one ma­chine. Ad­di­tion­ally, it is cru­cial to have the right pro­cesses in place and trained pro­fes­sion­als to utilise equip­ment and re­main at the fore­front of this ev­er­chang­ing is­sue.”

Af­ter the press con­fer­ences, Ashit Mehta, di­rec­tor of Aurostar, spoke about the chal­lenges af­fect­ing the mid­stream of the di­a­mond sec­tor where di­a­mond mar­gins are drop­ping. Fol­low­ing Mehta, there were speeches from the min­ing min­is­ters of im­por­tant African di­a­mond pro­duc­ing states: Wal­ter K. Chid­hakwa, min­is­ter of mines and min­ing de­vel­op­ment, Zim­babwe; Keketso Sello, min­is­ter of min­ing, Le­sotho; Leopold Mboli Fa­tran, min­is­ter of mines and ge­ol­ogy, Cen­tral African Repub­lic; and Dr Obolok­ile Obak­eng, act­ing per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, min­er­als, en­ergy and wa­ter re­sources, Botswana. Chid­hakwa spoke about the need for the di­a­mond in­dus­try to change and adapt and to in­crease the ben­e­fits re­ceived by lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in di­a­mond min­ing ar­eas.

For­mer UK Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron be­gan by prais­ing Dubai and its open­ness, di­ver­sity, rule of law, and val­ues which Dubai and the United King­dom share.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to visit this coun­try with­out be­ing wowed; it is a tow­er­ing ex­am­ple, quite lit­er­ally, if you look out­side, of what can be achieved. Lots of peo­ple ques­tioned whether all of this in­vest­ment in the desert would ever work, but your air­ports are in­ter­na­tional hubs, your tourist in­dus­try is a model for oth­ers to fol­low.

“You’re a busi­ness lo­ca­tion of huge stand­ing, there are over 1,00,000 of my fel­low coun­try­men liv­ing here to­day, and I know that they don’t just come for the big at­trac­tions – the tallest build­ing in the world, the big­gest shop­ping mall in the world, the top seven-star ho­tel in the world – they come here for the op­por­tu­ni­ties. They hope that in this global suc­cess story, they can write their own suc­cess sto­ries.”

DDE chair­man Pe­ter Meeus, who is step­ping down from his po­si­tion af­ter 12 years, said the third edi­tion of the Dubai Di­a­mond Con­fer­ence had once again il­lus­trated its im­por­tance and the abil­ity of Dubai to bring to­gether in­ter­na­tional lead­ers of the di­a­mond in­dus­try.

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