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Dubai launches 30b dirham wholesale 'city' to boost its trade economy

[DUBAI] Dubai will build a 30 billion dirham (S$11.5 billion) wholesale "city" it says will become the world's largest wholesale hub, the state news agency WAM said.

The development, to span more than 550 million square feet (51 million square meters) near the emirate's seaport and new airport, underlines Dubai's intention to push ahead with large projects despite a slowing regional economy.

While oil accounts for only a fraction of Dubai's economy, growth has slowed as neighbouring Abu Dhabi and other regional producers face headwinds from lower crude prices.

WAM, in a report late Tuesday, said Dubai Wholesale City aims to raise the UAE's share of the global wholesale trade sector, which is expected to grow from US$4.3 trillion to US$4.9 trillion over the next five years.

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Dubai has established itself as the region's largest non-oil trading centre, servicing commerce between the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The development will include specialised trading parks and an international trade exhibition facility, WAM said. It will be home to more than 15,000 wholesale traders, the report said.