Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Executive Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem told the inaugural Dubai Diamond Conference 2013 that the international diamond industry "is no longer dominated by Western countries".
"We have become a global community of producers, cutters, polishers, retailers and regulators," he says. "To ensure the collective voices of Russia, Dubai, India, China and Africa are heard, I believe global institutions such as the World Diamond Council (WDC) need to be helmed by leaders who recognise the issues facing these countries."
Bin Sulayem had earlier nominated Peter Meeus, chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) as the first non-Western president of the World Diamond Council to replace Eli Izhakoff who is stepping down.
"Peter's unparalleled understanding of the global diamond market will allow him to act in the best interests of the entire industry and ensure it continues to evolve in response to consumer and producer needs," Bin Sulayem told the two-day conference.
Hundreds of participants, including governmental delegations from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, are taking part in the conference. In addition, there is a broad range of diamond industry participants, representing companies and groups from all parts of the diamond supply pipeline.
Meeus said: "The focus of rough trading is moving to Africa, with African nations increasingly taking control of their mineral resources distribution. The bulk of the industry's diamond manufacturing, on the other hand, has long since moved to India, China and other Asian countries. Dubai is ideally positioned, geographically and operationally, to serve a pivotal role in this ever-changing landscape."
Meanwhile, Varda Shine, Executive VP, Global Sales, De Beers, presented her perspectives on the current state of the global diamond trade. "With Southern Africa becoming a global rough diamond trading hub, there will be tremendous opportunities for players in the diamond supply pipeline. As such, the development of new trade routes is likely to continue, as increased demand from Asian markets is expected. Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in grasping these opportunities."
Other speakers at the first day of the conference were Kimberley Process Chair, Ambassador Welile Nhlapo; Ministers of Mines, Susan Shabangu of South Africa, Dr Obert Moses Mpofu of Zimbabwe, and Kitso Mokaila of Botswana. In addition, WDC President Eli Izhakoff spoke, as did Vipul Shah, chairman of India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.