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ICA Congress on The Future of Coloured Gemstones held in Dubai hosted by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Free Zone Authority on commodities trade and enterprise and presenting sponsor ASHISH VIJAY.

The four-day event witnessed a successful response from the global coloured gemstone community with industry experts discussing how to stay current on the geopolitical and social dynamics that are shaping the gemstone industry today.

INCOMING PRESIDENT of the International Colored Gemstone Association:

“The thing about colour gemstone that we've noticed for thousands of years is that they endure. They've endured for thousands of years. It's a sentiment based around romance, around love. And so through the hard times, through financial crises, through pandemics, gemstones seem to endure. And if you look at the trading of colour gemstones in recent times, it's been very strong, very brisk.

“We've just had a trade show here in Dubai, which from all reports, was highly successful. The auctions, Sotheby's, Christie's auctions around the world are setting record prices. So, the future for coloured gemstones remains very bright, very strong. And Dubai, as being a central hub for that growth is going to be vitally important.”

On future collaboration between ICA and DMCC: Damien Cody said: “We've only just begun. It's a beautiful love affair that we started back in 2007 and now some 13-14 years later, it's really blossoming into something potentially very big for the colour gemstone industry. We're really looking forward to developing all of these thoughts with DMCC. The idea of having a free port for coloured gemstones in the UAE would be an incredible boost for our industry, and it would really set off Dubai as the hub for coloured gemstones worldwide. The thought of having an office here with DMCC is very much on our horizons, and we're certainly looking forward to a fantastic collaboration with the DMCC.”

Clement Sabbagh, president of the International Colored Gemstone Association:
Clement Sabbagh said they were glad to be in Dubai as the people of Dubai were very friendly. “We think it's a very important moment to join forces with the international gem community with the Dubai team here at the DMCC under Mr. Ahmed. And we see a great future ahead of us here.”

Replying to a question regarding having an ICA office in Dubai and ICA having a UAE director or UAE ambassador, Clement Sabbagh said: “I believe that is eventually (going to happen), it's a natural thing that we will have an office here. We are building a community, a community of members of colour gemstones here. And definitely we will. There's a great potential here to be achieved.”’

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman, and chief executive officer of DMCC, said: “Dubai has become a destination for the record-breaking stones; whether they're diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires. We've had a number of pearl tenders as well.

“So, today I'm looking to do more. We're looking to engage. We're looking to educate and show the world that you could get colour stones that are more valuable than the famous diamonds.”

To a question about the economic challenges the world is current facing, Ahmed Bin Sulayem said:

“My opinion on that is that it depends who you talk to. Some see it as an opportunity. It's all about timing. So, when the markets are down, it's a buying opportunity. But some players hold on and they don't sell until the market is up. So, it depends on the trader themselves. When the global recession kicked in, we knew that it was coming because the luxury industry gets affected first. So that's something with the 2008-09 financial crisis. but I don't think it's the same this year.

“Now China's economy is going to come back, and they're coming aggressive. They want to revive the economy, and when China wants to revive their economy, they will do it. It's been on lockdown for about two years, and it's the last important, strong economy that's opening up today. So, there's a lot to look forward to.

“And what we've noticed with the trend after the COVID pandemic, there was an expectation that people will not spend money, will not travel. But after the lockdown for so long and losing family members, it was a different psychological impact. People were spending more money; people were getting married because life is too short. So, it's different. It's not the same as 2009, in my opinion.”

Replying to a question on promoting colour gemstones in Dubai and beyond, Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: “I don't know if you've noticed. I've visited mines, I've visited producing countries. I plan after Ramadan to visit Madagascar as well. I hear they're the number one exporter of the top sapphires in the world -- I don't know if Sri Lanka will respond to that.

“But I'm still learning. I'm new. I've had good success with the polished diamonds and rough diamonds market. I believe DMCC has done well in the gold industry as well. We have three operational gold refineries. If pushed to full capacity, they could do 3.1 tons a day. There's the fourth one that's in the testing phase right now and will open very soon. So, DMCC alone will be having four operation gold refineries.

“This took time; to gain trust and build relations. The diamond industry has its own diamond council, federation.

“But I feel we live in a different time today where flow of information is much faster. They have their social media account; the interest is there. I've been to their stands in Vegas. I've learned how the market works over there. So, we're looking to learn from all of these key areas and bring in the best practices here.

“For those who haven't been following on DMCC, we're over 2,000 companies in the oil and gas and renewable energy. We're focusing on carbon credits as well. We are the hub for rough diamond business. The GIA has two floors in Uptown Tower for an academy. And then they have their hand for certifying polished diamonds coming from Africa, India, around this region and reached a bit out; largest headquarter after New York. They will not only do diamonds; they're going to capture the colour stones. HRD is here, IGI is here. I think the success of diamond community here also sends a message to the colour stones industry as well that this is a place not to overlook, especially during the pandemic. And after the pandemic, it was a lost opportunity.

“Usually, the markets are in Hong Kong, Thailand and these places, but Dubai is a place to explore. It worked for coffee, it's working for tea. We're the biggest hub in the tea industry. We have almost 70% of free exports coming via Dubai. We're looking to replicate that with the coffee. The biggest difference is the Arab community; the Emirati community is big when it comes to the coffee culture. But UAE still consumes more tea. I can't predict the future, but I know we will leave nothing to chance.”

On the FTAs to develop the gemstone sector in the DMCC and how Dubai will be beneficial at a governmental level, Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: “We are in a comfortable position when it comes to gold and diamonds. There was a scare in 2017 and early 2018 when the VAT was implemented on B-to-B gold and diamond businesses which His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid instructed the cabinet to reverse and that got sought. We're currently working on the same challenges for colour stones, lab grown diamonds and pearls. We're working with them. It needs time, but it will happen sooner than later.”

Ashish Vijay, Presenting Sponsor, Founder, and Chairman of House of Ashish Vijay said:

There is a huge potential for coloured gemstones industry to grow in Dubai. It is a financial hub that connects all of Africa, we are creating a platform that will help finance and connect small scale miners to get the goods directly in Dubai for auctions in DMCC. I believe this will have a strong impact on the coloured gemstones industry and support grow the idea of building a community right here in Dubai.

On the future plan for auction and tender for coloured gemstones in Dubai, Ashish Vijay said: “This year our upcoming tenders include diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones. This is the first time it is happening and when concluded successfully, it will be a great addition to the achievements of DMCC and Dubai. We are also working towards a joint venture between house of ASHISH VIJAY and ICA to conduct tenders and auctions in DMCC.

I have been part of DMCC for the last fifteen years with my companies and business activities based out of this city, the unimaginable ease of doing business and focusing on growth can only come when you have an environment that works to develop proper channels for your success. There is no doubt that the coming years will witness Dubai as the centre for the coloured gemstones industry where miners, traders and manufacturers create an encouraging atmosphere for the future.”