Dubai to head up fight against trade in blood diamonds

Dubai plans to lead the fight against blood diamonds when it takes over the chair of the Kimberley Process certification scheme next year.

The UAE was announced yesterday as the first Arab country to chair the high-profile scheme, which was set up 12 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly in an attempt to stamp out the trade in diamonds which are mined in war zones and sold to fund insurgencies in Africa.

Kimberley Process members voted for Dubai to take over from the current chair Angola in 2016, according to a joint statement from the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC),


The appointment means that the UAE will become the 14th country to take on the annual role since the body’s foundation in 2003, implementing its programme, running working groups and committees, and tackling general administration.

DMCC is the only entry and exit point for rough diamonds in the country and already administers the certification scheme in the UAE.

“[We plan] to work together on the growth and reach of the Kimberley Process while consolidating the achievements of the past 12 years – bringing to an end the flow of conflict diamonds globally,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of DMCC.

There are currently 54 Kimberley Process certification scheme participants, representing 81 countries.

The project has been partly credited with reducing the trade of blood diamonds from an estimated 3 to 5 per cent of annual world production in the year 2000 to less than 1 per cent today.

However, the effectiveness of the programme has been called into question by organisations such as the charity Global Witness, which pulled out of the scheme in 2011.

Dubai’s chairmanship of the scheme comes on the back of the emirate’s growing status as a trading centre for the world’s US$57 billion diamond market.

Historically a centre for pearl trading, back in 2001 the emirate traded less than $5 million of rough and polished stones. However, over the past decade that has snowballed as Dubai capitalises on good transport links with India, to be worth around $40bn. Today, it is one of the top three diamond trading centres in the world.

According to the Kimberley Process, diamond imports into the UAE rose from $5.1bn in 2013 to $5.9bn in 2014.

The creation of the UAE Kimberley Process Office was a major milestone in Dubai’s diamond business as the emirate became a regulated trading centre.

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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