Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, or Dafza, expects growth of investments to continue through attracting more global niche firms and increasing office occupancy to support Dubai's local economy. While assuring service support for investors, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airport Free Zone, shares his vision for Dafza in 2009 amid the economic crisis.
How much would the global crisis affect Dubai Airport Free Zone's performance this year?
Free zones play a vital role in a country's economy. As per the strategic objectives set initially, Dubai Airport Free Zone has consistently supported Dubai's economy.
The results achieved in the last quarter of 2008 are positive indications of increasing growth rates and we very much hope 2009 will be a fruitful year.
To achieve the goals of supporting the local economy, the free zone has carefully selected companies operating within its vicinity for a long-term partnership.
The global financial crisis has affected many businesses in developed countries which Dubai is part of. Therefore, the effect is slightly felt. The government has thus taken the right measures to avoid the crisis impact on the local economy.
Considering above reasons, we are still optimistic that the free zone will act professionally to turn theses effects into positives results by attracting more international companies seeking new markets apart from their traditional ones.
Does that mean expansion plans in 2009 will continue as planned?
Free zones are safe haven for international companies that seek unique position and growth, while other companies suffer financially. Investment revenue in the free zones exceeds the same in trade outside the free zone environment. To that end, expansions will continue as planned. A few office buildings will be delivered in the first half of 2010.
Do you think that establishing multiple free zones would affect each other negatively?
Multiple free zones in Dubai will positively impact the local economy since each free zone has its own approach. Dubai's economy and the free zones will benefit from marketing activities of these free zones in international markets. Each free zone has its own competitiveness, which provides different choices for different investors' needs.
After 12 years of operations, how has Dubai Airport Free Zone achieved its economic objectives?
Dubai Airport Free Zone has managed to achieve its economic objectives in the last decade to become a living example of supporting the economic development in Dubai specifically, and in the UAE in general, by the way of attracting premier international companies.
These companies have invested a huge capital that supported both trade and business activities in the emirate. The free zone also provided job opportunities for qualified UAE nationals to hold leading managerial positions gaining good experience to interact with international companies.
The success of Dubai's airport free zone has also created highly skilled nationals who contributed in establishing and running of new free zones in the emirate.
The free zone is now a value added asset to the economy of Dubai, particularly in areas such as export, re-export, consultancy services, distribution, assembling and many other activities that makes it a thriving hub in the region.
It has also played a great role in increasing the air cargo traffic capacity.
In brief, Dafza has been able to achieve success in a unique way, backed by the investment environment of Dubai and its location adjacent to the very busy Dubai International Airport.
What is the characteristic of Dubai Airport Free Zone? And what about its competitive advantages?
Dubai Airport Free Zone attracts multinational companies in different industry sectors, especially those of high value and low volume as they are transported easily by air.
Thus, we focus on electronics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jewellery, precious stones, along with aviation and air cargo sectors. The location of the free zone within an airport is a very competitive advantage in addition to its unique position within the Dubai International airport, being the busiest airport in the region.
The free zone also has state-of-the-art premises that provide ideal environment for international investors.
What are the reasons behind Dafza's success?
There are several reasons for the success of the Dubai Airport Free Zone project, the most important of which is the viability of the concept and the perfect timing… with the global business changes and the desire of international companies to explore new markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The second main reason is the clarity of development objectives and strategy set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
How successful do you think the Emiratisation policy has been in Dubai Airport Free Zone?
The Emiratisation policies in the free zone are applied in a programmed manner, allowing job opportunities for the UAE nationals and providing continuous training besides developing programmes as per Dubai Government's strategy.
The free zone management has achieved the Emiratisation policy counts for 75 per cent of the total staff while 100 per cent in senior management posts.