Singapore appears set to catalyse a growth corridor that would link Dubai, South Asia and the city-state, which would be powered by affluent globally connected expatriates from the sub-continent.
A country built on the talents of migrants, Singapore is now looking to complement its geographic location in East Asia, with the strategic positioning of Dubai as a gateway to West Asia, Central Asia, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
Singapore’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Umej Bhatia, said at a recent conference where expatriates from the Indian sub-continent mingled with a visiting delegation from the city-state, that Dubai and Singapore — important business hubs in their region — should jointly leverage their locations to build a wealth corridor that would run through the Indian sub-continent, and could eventually extend to China.
“A few years ago, London School of Economics Professor Danny Quah calculated that in1980 the world’s economic centre of gravity was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” said the ambassador. He added: “Using mathematical models, he forecast that by 2050 the focus of global economic activity based on GDP would shift eastwards to lie between China and India. This is precisely the Dubai-Mumbai-Singapore-Shanghai wealth corridor.”
Others at the conference, billed at Majlis Singapura, stressed that resumption of joint business forays by expatriates, which had been largely disrupted with the advent of British colonial role, would have deep historical resonance.
Expats from the sub-continent who have built their fortunes in the United States, Gulf and Europe “do not carry the same baggage as the people from the home state that they left,” said Gopinath Pillai, Singapore’s ambassador-at-large during a keynote address. A more open mindset among them opens up opportunities for cross-border collaborations.
Mr. Pillai pointed out that Singapore would soon provide a platform for South Asian expats and delegates from the mainland, to interact, network and brainstorm possible business and creative opportunities across the globe, including the Dubai-South Asia-Singapore wealth corridor. He said that the second South Asian Diaspora Convention (SADC), hosted by the National University of Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) would be held in the metropolis during November 21 – 22.
Professor Tan Tai Yong, the director of ISAS, observed that the two-day convention would be the largest business meet of the South Asian Diaspora, comprising over 1,500 delegates from a variety of fields, including the media and contemporary arts. The participants would include 40 leading policymakers, business leaders, authors and civil society leaders from the region.
At a panel discussion at the conference, Singapore showcased the strengths of its well-regulated economy, which had accelerated capital flows into the metropolis, at a time when investor confidence in the traditional western economies was yet to recover.
Pranam Wahi, the West Asia head of DBS bank — a Singaporean financial venture — said that Central Banks and sovereign wealth funds in the region were now channeling nearly 20 per cent of their surplus investments into Singapore.