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09 December 2023

Dubai Free Zones to stimulate foreign direct investment


The Dubai Free Zones, DFZ Council discussed in its 9th meeting today initiatives to promote foreign direct investment, FDI, flows to the emirate’s free zones.

Key items on the agenda included easing the business set-up and reducing fees in the free zones, the new e-commerce regulations, the assessment of the effectiveness of measures related to anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing, as well as Dubai Blink initiative.

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chief Executive of Emirates Group Chairman of DFZC, who presided over the meeting, said, "Over the past decades, free zones have been instrumental in increasing Dubai's GDP and FDI inflows that are experiencing high annual growth despite the prevailing global economic climate. Today, we see the emirate's free zones as more than just economic facilitators. Due to their legislative and investment incentives and through adopting strategic initiatives that shape the future of trade and economy to consolidate Dubai's status as an ideal business destination, they have evolved into globally competitive models."

He added, "Members of the DFZ Council place high importance on collaboration, innovation, and integration that are essential prerequisites for success and progress. This approach has gone a long way towards enhancing the attractiveness of Dubai's free zones for investors and major international companies."

The DFZ Council reviewed the updates on an initiative to create a centralized electronic system to streamline registration and licensing procedures that will link all the free zones in Dubai to a data center under the supervision of the Council, and route orders to the concerned authorities for approval.

In this context, the DFZ Council established a permanent administrative and technical committee to oversee the project and set a timetable for its implementation.

The attendees also overviewed the latest developments in the free zone e-commerce initiative, presented in April 2018 to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

The effort seeks to stimulate the national economy through developing an ecosystem that boosts the quality of e-commerce services. Dubai’s free zones have the potential to become global e-commerce hubs, as they are perfectly positioned to fulfil orders locally and internationally.

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority, DAFZA, presented the Dubai Blink initiative in cooperation with Dubai Future Foundation. Aimed at establishing the first digital platform for free zones that leverages artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to streamline trade among the entities, the initiative will help explore new areas of investment, redefining the concept of investment development in free zones.

During the meeting, the DFZ Council commended several free zones for lowering their fees in line with the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to reduce the cost of business operations and facilitate investment.

Mechanism of granting no objection certificates by the government bodies that have been mandated to issue licenses to free zone companies was also discussed during the meeting.

The DFZ Council will work with various entities to enhance the businesses’ experiences and review the scope of the certificates to improve the ease of doing business in the free zones.

The council also examined the assessment process to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism in coordination with the National Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism to meet all requirements related to the preparedness of free zones in this area.