Dubai media hub to tap regional markets

The free zone offers investment opportunities for graphic arts, printing, publishing and packaging industries, and ancillary operations


The head of Dubai’s new hub for the printing, publishing and packaging industries wants to attract a major slice of the Asian and Middle Eastern market – currently valued at Dh19.7 billion. Hamad Huraiz, Executive Director of International Media Production Zone, told Emirates Business the free zone was growing rapidly, with 61 per cent of third phase pre-built units already sold out.

He said IMPZ was perfectly placed to tap into the printing industry, which is expected to grow 7.7 per cent by 2012, with a total market value of Dh28bn, according to statistics from Dubai-based management consultancy group IMES. Already about 200 companies have decided to run their business from the free zone.

International Media Production Zone, launched in July 2003, is the first dedicated trade zone in the region for media-related production activities. Located on 43 million square foot of land close to the Dubai Sports City on Emirates Road, the free zone offers investment opportunities for graphic arts, printing, publishing and packaging industries, and ancillary entities.

Facilities include land leasing, pre-built units, office and warehousing spaces, as well as residential developments along with other utilities designed to meet the requirements of media production companies.

Basic infrastructure was recently completed at a cost of Dh235 million. And IMPZ’s total investment in infrastructure is expected to reach more than Dh1bn during the coming years. “We have been working on the infrastructure development since 2005. Everything from roads, parking areas, street lighting, drainage, bus stops and road signage are now accessible to all parties based at the free zone,” Huraiz said.

The first of IMPZ’s five substations is also operational, supplying power to the industrial and residential areas in the free zone. “It was very important for us to complete the work on the substation and make it operational. In fact our partnership with Dewa in the substation complex is crucial for the on-time delivery of the project. Only a few substations are energised prior to the completion of the project, relying until then on temporary power sources,” he said. Built with an investment of Dh73m, the substation has a capacity of 160 mega watts. The second substation is scheduled for completion by 2011. 

Huraiz said IMPZ will have an eco-friendly industrial environment. “We will adopt tried and tested concepts and practices towards recycling waste. Since it will be a cluster of companies involved in the same business, we will enable them to utilise each other’s by-products instead of disposing them as waste. Renewable energy sources will be included in the site’s infrastructure to guarantee reliable and clean power.”

When the facility is fully complete it will have man-made lakes, residential accommodation, facilities for recreation and fitness, a community centre, public bus service,  mosques, clinics, parks, schools, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, ATMs, and round-the-clock security to create a self-contained and convenient media production cluster. There will be a total of 36 residential towers and construction work on three residential apartments by Damac has started.

Other developers involved in developing residential buildings at IMPZ include ETA Star, Fortune Serene and Sukook Investments, among others. There will be an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 7,000 people, six hotels and a shopping mall.

IMPZ will have a total of seven million sq ft of office space, including 20 office towers.

“Investors can either lease plots of land for construction, or lease out pre-engineered units. Residential apartments will be built for families as well as blue and white collar workers,” said Huraiz.

The last three phases of the Dh285m pre-built units are ready for occupation and cost Dh65 per square foot. “Several business partners of IMPZ have already set up operations in phase one of the pre-built units, which were completed in November 2007. With a total of 106 units and a built-up area of 1.4 million sq ft, the PBU buildings we have built will feature world-class showrooms and multi-use warehouses.”

According to Huraiz, clients have been given the option to make minor alterations to the structure to suit their requirements. “Although the PBUs have been constructed keeping in mind the primary requirements of media production companies, we have left the options open for modifications.”

Investors have also been offered six showroom sizes ranging from 7,000 to 60,000 sq ft across a ground, mezzanine and first floor. The two types of warehouse comprise a mezzanine office, reception area as well as a parking bay. Among the benefits to investors are its free-zone status, where businesses can hold 100 per cent ownership. They are exempt from a range of taxes, including those for machinery, equipment, raw materials and spares. “Furthermore, rules governing media production have been simplified to provide companies in the zone tremendous ease of operation,” said Huraiz.

“Before we launched IMPZ there was a meeting with all the major players in the industry. We put forward the idea of a facility like IMPZ and right there people were ready to make the bookings and reserve space,” said Huraiz. Investors include international players such as Heidelberg and Xerox and regional firms such as Emirates Printing Press, Al Ghurair Printing Press, Galadari Investments and Masar Printing and Publishing.

An official from Saudi Research and Publishing Company told Emirates Business the free zone offered “an excellent opportunity” for media and production companies to operate under one umbrella. “Logistically it becomes very easy to operate from IMPZ, especially when media companies, printing press and distribution agencies are concentrated within a zone,” said Riaz Abdul Rahman, production manager at SRPC. The company has leased a plot at IMPZ but is yet to decided a date to start operations.


The numbers


Dh19.7bn: The estimated value of the printing, publishing and packaging industry in Asia and Middle East

7.7%: The expected growth of the printing industry by 2012