The growth of the number of companies operating within the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) free zone demonstrates its role in strengthening Dubai as a major global commodity trading hub.
Within the first six months of 2014, the free zone registered 1,027 member companies, bringing the total number of companies to more than 8,865, an increase of 30 per cent compared with the same period in 2013.
International companies, such as French agriculture-focused trading house Louis Dreyfus, UK/Swiss mining firm Glencore Xstrata and Luxembourg-headquartered diamond trader DeBeers, all have operations within the free zone.
DMCC has rapidly expanded since it opened in 2002. In 2008, it opened its Almas Tower, the tallest commercial tower in the Middle East and saw the number of companies operating in the zone jump to 1,437.
Today the number of companies has leapt to more than six times the volume recorded in 2008.
The number of firms is set to grow further, with the DMCC planning a major expansion with the building of the Burj 2020 District tower, which aims to steal Almas Towers accolade as the worlds tallest commercial building.
Currently four firms are competing to win the design contract on the tower and groundbreaking is planned in 2015.
The volume of commodities being processed and traded through the DMCC is also growing.
The total value of gold traded through Dubai rose to $75bn in 2013, a 73 per cent increase over 2012, representing 40 per cent of the global trade in physical gold. Dubais gold market stood at just $6bn in 2003, in comparison.
During the first five months of 2014, trade volumes of rough diamonds increased by 13 per cent to 63 million carats.
DMCCs Tea Centre set new records with the quantity of tea it processed at its Jebel Ali plant in the first half of the year. Volumes hit 20 million kilograms, compared with just 7.5 million kilograms in the first half of last year.
The DMCC is also supporting trade links between the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Increasingly, African countries are looking to take greater control over their mineral resources distribution, rather than relying on European-based companies.
The Dubai Diamond Exchange within the DMCC hosted its first tender of Zimbabwe rough diamonds in March, a move that illustrates how commodities are reaching buyers directly from the mines via a tender and auction process, as opposed to being handled by a third party.
Since then, the exchange has hosted a further 11 diamond tenders, featuring both polished and rough diamonds, with diamonds from major African producers in Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa.