HE Salma Hareb, CEO of Economic Zones World
Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), the flagship Free Zone operation of Economic Zones World (EZW) has, in 2013, registered the highest growth in the number of new joiners in the last six years. 613 multinationals joined the Free Zone in 2013, posting an increase of 28 percent on the number of new companies that joined Jafza in 2012. A large number of these companies are market leaders in their respective fields and some of them, Global Fortune 500 enterprises.
The Free Zone has seen an equally robust upswing in its revenues, as well as gross earnings in the year. In 2013, Free Zone’s revenues increased by 7 percent while EBITDA grew by 12 percent. The Free Zone’s remarkable achievements are largely driven by an impressive growth in new leases, having achieved the increases of 19 percent in land and 6 percent in warehouse leases in the year.
In 2013, 30 percent of the new companies came from developed and developing economies of Asia, 29 percent from Europe and Americas and remaining from the GCC and the Middle East. In terms of countries, the largest number of foreign investors came from India followed by China, UK and the US. The trend reinforces Jafza’s growing stature as a dynamic hub and a business facilitator for multinationals.
Commenting on Jafza’s impressive growth HE Salma Hareb, CEO of Economic Zones World said: “Jafza’s remarkable growth in 2013 cements the Free Zone’s status as the gateway and hub of the greater Middle East. It also reinforces Jafza’s role as a key driver of attracting foreign direct investment into the country and the region. Jafza’s achievements have further strengthened Dubai’s pre-eminent status as a truly dynamic centre for business.
“We are very proud for having successfully played our mandated role in positioning Dubai as an international hub for trade and commerce and the number 1 destination for investment.”
Jafza plays a key role in Dubai and the UAE’s economic development and growth. The Free Zone accounts for more than a half of Dubai’s non-oil exports and a quarter of the Emirate’s total non-oil trade. Jafza contributes 21 percent to the Emirate’s GDP year-on-year.
“Our impressive achievements set the tone and define growth trends that will perhaps prevail in the coming years in the region. Winning the right to host Expo 2020 has provided further boost to growth momentum in Dubai and the region. We have launched an array of initiatives in the year not only to prepare ourselves to meet the upcoming growth challenges efficiently but also to support and catalyse Dubai’s growth over the next decade and driving commerce into the region through the Free Zone,” she added.
Enhancing Customer Experience
In 2013 Jafza has taken several strategic initiatives to enhance its capabilities and offerings to enable its new and existing customers to increase their operating efficiency and profitability and in the most effective and efficient way. The Jafza App, launched late last year, which is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms, is one such initiative Jafza has taken in the digital space. The app brings Jafza’s electronic services to the palms of its customer's hands around-the-clock.
The initiative is in line with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s recent call to move towards “smart governance”. Jafza's move represents one step in the paradigm shift already taking place in its internal processes and workflows, which have been re-engineered to bring about efficiency, immediacy and transparency, not only within the working of the organisation, but also to conform to the requirements of world-class service provision over mobile devices.
The Jafza App further strengthens Jafza’s one-stop-shop offerings. The efficacy of the model is evident from transaction trend that has posted an average growth of 20 percent from 2009 to 2013. The number of transactions at the Free Zone more than doubled in the last 5 years growing from 425,891 in 2009 to about 894,000 in 2013.
One of the key Jafza achievements in 2013, in the infrastructure and facility segment, includes the announcement of the completion of the phase one of its iconic Jafza One project. The completion of the first phase of the complex makes available an office tower offering approximately 43,000 sq. metres of prime leasable space, a 22-outlet food court, and two levels of car park with over 1,000 spaces on each level.
The overall complex is spread across 72,700 sq. metres, and comprises two 34-floor twin towers rising 138 metres above ground level. It contains a 320 room luxury four-star hotel, a 606-seat auditorium, a 1,000 sq. metre banquet hall, 22 meeting and conference rooms and a ready-to-use 1,500 sq. metre exhibition hall, as well as four floors for parking with 4,000 spaces.
In the year the Free Zone has launched several other facility and infrastructure projects including the development of a multi-million light industrial facility (LIU-11) and road development and access gate projects.
Serving Small & Medium Enterprises
Jafza has taken several initiatives in the year to support small and medium enterprises in the Free Zone such as building two more business centres at the Business Park, located in TechnoPark, that provides ready-to-use, fully furnished and equipped offices, with no set-up cost, designed for customer’s short term or long term use.
In 2013, Jafza has also facilitated two incubator centres one for Ukraine – UCCI FZE, and one for Korea-Korea Win-Win Inno Tech Plaza. The Incubation Facility helps SMEs to explore business prospects in the region at a very nominal cost. Incubation Centre is essentially a collaborative initiative between Jafza and the interested country to support SMEs. Under the scheme Jafza offers Incubator facility to the Agency, who in turn allocates spaces in the centre to interested SMEs from their respective countries. Jafza is currently home to 5 incubation centres including the above two.
In terms of exploring opportunities and creating awareness about Dubai and the Middle East Jafza has, in 2013, partnered with businesses across the world.
The Free Zone conducted 8 roadshows and business seminars in Asia, Europe and the US. In 2013 the Free Zone has signed two MoUs, one with Korea Exchange Bank, Hana Bank and Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses and another with French Chamber to explore and promote investment opportunities in Jafza and the Middle East region. To support regular interaction with the prospective customers Jafza has, in 2013, appointed permanent representatives in Australia and New Zealand, Argentina, Beijing, France, Japan, Spain and Korea. With these new appointments the total number of Jafza representatives grew to 17 across the world.
Conducting Industry Forums
As a part of Jafza’s commitment to support customers in achieving their growth aspirations it has conducted seven industry specific strategic forums covering electronics & IT, steel, metal and building material, logistics, automotive, FMCG, food and healthcare, petrochemical, oil and gas as well as machinery and equipment sectors, in which various growth opportunities were discussed. The forum also provided a platform to the industry and industry enablers to exchange knowledge and ideas to enhance their respective capabilities and making the operating environment within Jafza even more conducive for the businesses to grow.
These initiatives are Jafza’s long-term plan to position the Free Zone as the number 1 business and logistics hub in the world, said Salma Hareb commenting on the Free Zone’s strategic focus.
The positive outcome of the Jafza strategy is clearly demonstrated in the diverse profile of the new joiners this year.
New Companies in 2013
The new companies include a large number of leading market leaders such as Japanese Electronics major, Casio; leading Japanese construction company, Dai Nippon Construction; Korean Steel Industry market leader, Hyundai Welding; China’s leading integrated oilfield service solution provider, COSL International; Shanghai based China’s largest automobile manufacturer, SAIC Motor; leading Italian manufacturer of security gates, Nice Gulf; pre-eminent UK manufacturer of fire sprinkler system, Rapidrop; prominent German intelligent scaffolding solution provider, Layher FZE; leading Canadian company dealing in electrical equipment, Tornatech FZE and Houston based leading Oil & Gas Field Machinery Company, WWT International among others, from across the world.
Jafza is currently home to more than 7,300 world’s finest companies including over 120 Global Fortune 500 enterprises. These companies are estimated to have generated trade worth over USD 90 billion in 2013.