Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) registered 52 new companies in the automotive and aeronautics industry, bringing the total number to more than 435 companies from 60 countries. Trade volume from 2010 to 2014 also rose by almost 80 per cent.
Jafza, the flagship free zone entity of Dubai and the trade and logistics hub for the wider Middle East region, organised a forum for its customers from the automotive and aeronautics industry. The forum was attended by senior officials from leading companies in this sector, Jafza management and Free Zone partners.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO and Chairman of DP World and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation said the continued growth of automotive and aeronautics sector reflects the free zone's strength as a regional and global hub for the automotive sector.
He further added that Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone fully support automotive and aeronautics sector through their focused facilities and services. The sector plays an important role in enabling economy to achieve sustained growth.
Bin Sulayem said, "The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world for the automotive sector. Jafza, as a trade and logistics centre, provides easier access to key markets in the region serving more than 2 billion people, including those with higher income.
He attributed this growth to UAE's economic stability and other major development projects that are expected to be implemented in the coming years. These initiatives are in line with the directives from the UAE's leadership to diversify the economy to non-oil sector and prepare for a post-oil period.
Bin Sulayem added that, the increase of auto sales in the region was due to a rise in the population of the region, new models of various brands and the financial ability to purchase cars with support from the banking sector here.
He revealed that, of the auto sector based in Jafza, 19 per cent were European companies led by Britain and Germany while 21 per cent represented Asian companies mainly from Japan and Korea.
The Customer Forum was attended by senior officials from leading auto companies, senior Jafza management and Free Zone partner entities.
Asim Al Abbasi, EZW Chief Financial Officer, stressed on the importance of this sector as a key pillar in the Free Zone and said, "We need to seize the opportunities of this sector at the regional and local levels, especially after the Business Monitor International report's optimistic outlook for the growth of this sector in the UAE where the total projected sales by 2019 is up to about 508 thousand units with an annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 4.7 per cent during 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively."
The forum discussed the future of hybrid and electric vehicles, the purchase of such cars by the local population as well as the government's commitment on using clean and renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions and conserving natural resources for future generation.
It was unanimously agreed that the hybrid cars were receiving widespread acceptance and hence are achieving substantial growth due to the introduction of several models of hybrid cars. The companies foresee intense competition in the hybrid car sector, especially since many companies have realised its importance. They are investing heavily research and development, conducting tests and adding new technology, especially attractive machines to suite the weather in the UAE.
Jafza is already on the road to sustainable energy, provided chargers for electric vehicles in the Free Zone to encourage customers and employees to choose environmentally friendly cars instead of the traditional vehicles.
The companies agreed on the need to open up access to the African markets to capitalise on growing opportunities in the region and increase the value of exports. The UAE is a key link between manufacturers and importers in Asia, Africa and Europe owing to the geographical proximity and logistics facilities. The country's logistics infrastructure comprising seaports, airports and road network compound its leading position in this sector. UAE ranks first regionally and second globally in the re-export of auto parts and accessories.
The customer forum is a dialogic platform where senior Jafza management and partner entities came together to address customers' concerns in their daily transactions and to brainstorm the future directions for the automotive industry, aeronautics and related industries.
Jafza officials presented some of the most important initiatives undertaken by the Free Zone, especially the upgrade to infrastructure and the construction of additional facilities and warehouses that are in high demand.
The Forum was attended by numerous leading companies notably; Mercedes, Mitsubishi, GMC, Audi, IZuZu, Ghassan Aboud, Volkwagon, UTS Aeronautic System and FP Aeronautics ME along with senior management of Jafza and representatives of DP World, Dubai Customs, Dubai Chamber, Trakhees, Dubai Exports, and the Port and Free Zone Security and a number of Jafza strategic partners who answered all the customer queries.