This year has seen many government-backed trade delegations head to Dubai, attracted by the emirate’s rebounding economy and large-scale spending plans.

But foreign governments not only want their companies to capitalise on Dubai’s projected economic growth, they are also keen to use the emirate as a stepping stone into Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is a trend that will help Dubai maintain economic growth, even when other sectors such as real estate or construction slump.

Over the past 12 months there have been pledges of economic cooperation between Dubai and China and the US, while the UK’s export finance agency has provided financial support to help UK companies secure construction contracts.

Yet, international governments are not only drawn to Dubai due to the hotels, shopping malls or theme parks the emirate plans to build. They are also attracted to its legal system, transport connections and financial district.

For many, these factors make the emirate an ideal place from which to launch their African operations.   

This was clearly one of the motivations behind the agreement signed in mid-August between Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and the Korean Export –Import Bank (Kexim), the state-backed South Korean trade finance bank.

The agreement specifies that ICD and Kexim should collaborate on Sub-Saharan investments.  

China is another country keen to use Dubai to support its African expansion. China Development Bank, which finances many African infrastructure projects, revealed plans in July to open in the emirate.

In response to this growing interest, Dubai continues to develop its role as a springboard to Africa. Its low-cost airline Flydubai has just announced the addition of three new East African routes, making it even easier for Dubai-based businessmen to travel to and from the continent.

Dubai’s appeal to international governments and investors goes far beyond the emirate’s volatile construction industry.