The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has surpassed Belgium as the largest exporter of rough diamonds in the world. This is stated in a report by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). It is noted that the local diamond industry has been able to benefit from the restrictions introduced in other centers due to the outbreak of the corona pandemic. In addition, the emirates were also able to take advantage of favorable fiscal and financial conditions.

Moreover, it says it is increasingly emerging as a competitor to Hong Kong in the diamond industry in terms of trade.

‘Dubai is the new capital of the diamond trade’

Dubai exported $12.96 billion worth of rough diamonds last year,” the DMCC report contends. “That represented a 98 percent increase over the previous year. Also compared to three years ago, before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, an increase of 62 percent could be reported.

In volumes, Dubai exported 107.9 million carats of rough diamonds last year. This was 31 percent more than the previous year. In Belgium, rough diamond exports reached a level of $11.12 billion last year.

Dubai is the new capital of the diamond trade,” argued Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chief executive of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), at the Dubai Diamond Conference in a commentary on the figures. “There is a clear geopolitical shift underway, with traditional centers losing importance.

With its relatively relaxed corona policy, Dubai has been able to attract a greater number of events in recent times. The Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) was able to host 68 sales of diamonds and gemstones last year. The peace treaty concluded between Israel and the United Arab Emirates two years ago also boosted the diamond trade.

The proximity to India has also provided a boost to the sector. The same goes for the launch of direct flights between Dubai and the Indian city of Surat, the sector’s largest production center. Meanwhile, both sides can also benefit from a free trade agreement that the United Arab Emirates recently signed with India.

Commenting on the report, representatives of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) make it clear that Dubai’s figures should nevertheless be put into some perspective. “When raw and processed stocks are combined, Antwerp is still larger than Dubai,” it is noted.

Moreover, it should be pointed out that Dubai and Antwerp have a different way of working. Among other things, it should be noted that Dubai does not publish official figures nor does it apply the Kimberley Process rules when valuing goods. Transparent and independent data is lacking.


Dubai further points out that it is also gaining in importance in the diamond trade, becoming an increasing competitor to Hong Kong. “Dubai welcomes tourists without a quarantine obligation,” it says. “That is a major contrast to Hong Kong, where visitors are isolated for weeks after their arrival.

A greater focus on the entrepreneurial perspective, low taxes and a more positive attitude among banks toward the diamond trade have greatly increased Dubai’s popularity in the diamond world.

In Hong Kong, by the way, the industry did not only face the impact of the corona pandemic. Even earlier, the calendar of events in the Chinese metropolis was hampered by typhoons and the protests against local government policies.

Dubai does not hide its desire to strengthen its position in the market for processed diamonds. Last year, its exports grew by 70 percent to 4.15 billion dollars, while its imports increased by 65 percent to 4.93 billion dollars. This means that Dubai is still significantly behind Belgium.

Bin Sulayem says, however, that he is convinced that Dubai is capable of catching up with Belgium. “A large proportion of our rough diamond clients also have clients who specialize in processed stones themselves. So we are well positioned to build a stronger position in that market as well.