The trading floor of the Dubai Diamond Exchange is designed to appear like the prow of an enormous transparent yacht sailing across the crystal clear waters of Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
the centre of this modernist cathedral to the most precious of
gemstones sits a huge hunk of plastic sculpted to the shape of a round
brilliant cut diamond.
The floor towards the foredeck of this artificial ship is also transparent and hangs in the air over the lake.
futuristic and sparse surrounds are enough to give any diamond trader
the uneasy feeling that he is in some sort of Bond villain's lair and
could fall to his death in shark-infested waters at any moment.
there are no trap doors in Almas Tower, the tallest commercial building
in the Middle East that is named after the Arabic word for Diamonds.
Neither are their any sharks in the lake beneath the trading floor.
floor, and the primary coloured chairs and sofas surrounding it, will
be bowed under far more weight than usual today and tomorrow, as 500 of
the world's leading diamond experts attend the Dubai Diamond Conference,
the first of what is hoped to be a biennial event.
Diamond Conference is extremely significant, especially given the
context of the current economic climate and global shift of businesses
from West to East, North to South," said Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive
chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), host of the
"The New Silk Route" is the theme of this year's
event. "It is about the new trade routes from Africa to the new consumer
nations in South Asia and the Far East," he said.
"We chose that
title because with Africa rising, we will see this new route - where
Dubai will be at the centre as facilitator and logistical hub - becoming
a reality very soon."
The DMCC was established in 2002 as the
gateway to commodities trade in the region. Less than US$5 million
(Dh18.3m) worth of diamonds were traded through the emirate in the
DMCC's first year but by the end of 2011 the trade in stones had swelled
to more than $39bn, making Dubai number three in the world.
Today there are 600 companies involved in the diamond trade at DMCC.
have polishing and boiling facilities at Almas Tower; we have security
services via Brinks; we have diamond financing via international
financiers such as ABN Amro and Antwerp Diamond Bank and we have
state-of-the-art vaulting services for both diamonds and gold," Mr bin
"The majority of our diamond companies, however, are
traders - a mix of wholesalers and retailers, rough and polished
traders, from Damas and Dhamani Jewels to Rosy Blue, Dimxeon and
Dubai has quickly climbed the global diamond trade ladder.
global shift in the diamond trade is a generational one and has been
caused by a variety of reasons," Mr bin Sulayem said. "Most important is
the rise of India and the Far East as consumer nations but also the
proximity of Dubai to these two regions and Africa, with which it has
historic trade ties."
To underscore this historic shift, De Beers,
the world leader in the diamond industry, has moved the headquarters of
The Diamond Trading Company, its rough diamond distribution arm, from
London to Gaborone in Botswana.
"Dubai is naturally and
conveniently located at the centre of trade - between producing and
consuming nations. It has excellent air and sea links which makes doing
business here easy," Mr bin Sulayem said.