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Dubai Customs: Facilitating the growth of the UAE’s economy through digitalisation of trade and E-Commerce

Dubai Customs: Facilitating the growth of the UAE’s economy through digitalisation of trade and E-Commerce

In an era where digitisation has transformed virtually every sector, Dubai Customs has safeguarded steady progress through the prudent utilisation of its technological solutions to ensure operational growth, despite the impact of the pandemic.

During his conversation with ‘The Zone’, H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, CEO of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) highlighted the approach adopted by the organisation to facilitate secure and seamless trade during a period of uncertainties.

What strategies has Dubai Customs employed to enhance its status in the UAE?

In line with the nation’s vision, Dubai Customs embarked on a forward-thinking approach in order to transform and develop a journey to achieve the title of ‘the Customs of the fu- ture.’ Building on our capabilities, we have transformed ourselves into a technologically advanced, resilient, and innovative customs administration.

Through our positive approach, we have been able to meet the expectations of businesses in Dubai, as well as the global supply chain. Our strategy for 2021-2026 aims to boost our status as a secure and sustainable customs administration through digital transformation of our services to facilitate trade, boost the economy, and enhance our customers’ experience with our services.

How have you maintained pace with the advancing technologies in trade, commerce, and logistics?

We have adopted the latest technologies for all aspects of our work to meet both present and future needs of the global supply chain. We use the latest systems for accurate pre-arrival monitoring of cargo shipments, and x-ray scanning of containers to ensure secure and free flow of trade.

We have also worked on our smart customs services in order to work in line with the Dubai Paperless Strategy, as a result of which, 99.6 percent of transactions in 2021 were completed through smart and electronic channels. Our achievements in advanced data-driven security processes have allowed us to reach global recognition with the World Customs Organisation regarding us as the global benchmark for leveraging information technology to enhance customs operations.

Would you like to provide an overview about your Cross Border Platform for e-commerce?

Dubai government launched its e-commerce strategy in September 2019, with an aim of transforming Dubai into a world-class e-com- merce hub. In line with this strategy, we built a Cross Border E-Commerce Platform us- ing blockchain technology. Blockchain has the potential to connect local and overseas e-commerce companies, logistics and courier companies, and free zones, making it the ideal technology to serve all the key players in the e-commerce ecosystem.

The platform helps us stay in line with the same-day delivery strategy, as it ensures seamless transfer of goods, from the moment the customer places an online order until it reaches the end-user. The pilot phase of the platform went live in 2019, and as of today, JAFZA has been successfully using our platform. We are also working with 15 companies which are in different stages of onboarding the platform and will be live in 2022. The blockchain-based platform will help re- duce operational cost by 20 percent and is expected to contribute as much as AED12 billion to the Emirate’s GDP by 2023.

Our e-commerce platform helps us stay in line with the same-day delivery strategy, as it ensures seamless transfer of goods, from the moment the customer places an online order until it reaches the end user.

How do you think your access control and management systems will impact trade worldwide?

Dubai Customs is keen on developing its capabilities in the areas of customs intelligence, inspections, and risk management, in order to restrict the trade of prohibited goods. Our risk assessment system, Risk Engine, monitor suspicious shipments prior to their arrival. As a result of this, 97 percent of risk-free consignments are automatically approved and cleared without human intervention in less than two minutes.

Moreover, the Dubai Customs’ control room makes use of 25 security systems and 564 surveillance cameras to monitor inspection operations across all the ports in Dubai. This integrated ecosystem helps us strike the right balance between control and facilitation of trade seamlessly.

The digitalisation of processes at Dubai Customs has made it possible for us to complete over 93 percent of our trade transactions within a time period of two hours. The Mirsal 2 system is a risk management tool that enables us to clear most of the cargo automatically without human intervention.

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What is your usual approach towards developing the ideal solution for your clients?

Dubai Customs has established a comprehensive ecosystem that combines financial and human resources to construct the right infra- structure that builds a strong culture of innovation and produces the expected business outcomes for our clients.

We provide various channels to all our stakeholders to share their ideas, which are reviewed and evaluated by a team of experts. This internal consortium is responsible for filtering, selecting, and turning ideas into real solutions. These solutions are executed by following an award-winning project management methodology. Once the solution is executed, we track and monitor the benefits of the solution in order to ensure that the expected outcome of the solution is met.

To ensure that we provide added value to our clients, we established the Dubai Customs Consultative Council to provide a direct communication link between Customs and its clients. Through this, we have been able to address our clients’ feedbacks and suggestions and enhance our solutions.

Would you like to throw some light on your achievements in terms of your latest facts and figures?

Trade is an important element for the growth of Dubai’s economy, and at the centre of it is its customs sector. During the first half of 2021, Dubai Customs successfully completed 11.2 million transactions despite the impact of the pandemic, representing 53.4 percent year-on-year growth. This is a result of the quick adoption of digital services by Dubai Customs, as 99.6 percent of its transactions were completed through smart and electronic channels.

Moreover, during the first six months of 2021, Dubai Customs pro- cessed over 10 million cargo transactions, which represents 66.6 percent year-on-year growth. These big figures are a result of the latest technology in use and the advanced Smart Workspace at the Dubai Customs, which are capable of completing a transaction in as less as four minutes.

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