Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday carried out an inspection visit to the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ), Terminal 2, and Panasonic’s headquarters in the UAE.
Shaikh Mohammad was accompanied by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.
On his first leg, Shaikh Mohammad visited DAFZ, where he listened to a presentation given by Dr. Mohammad Al Zarouni, Director General of DAFZ, and his assistants on the zone’s strategy, which is to make it the top regional destination for the best free zone companies. The zone’s strategy also consists of contributing 2.27 per cent to the emirate’s gross domestic product.
DAFZ also aims to provide integrated solutions to attract regional and global investors who are looking for a unique work environment that is distinguished by its logistic services.
During the presentation, Aisha Al Hashemi, an employee at DAFZ, pointed out that the free zone houses the offices of more than 1,600 international companies in 14 buildings with 13,000 employees from various nationalities.
Shaikh Mohammad then reviewed the development achieved by viewing statistics since the zone’s establishment in 1996 up to 2012. Investments in the free zone in 1996 were valued at Dh 235 million, rising to Dh3.5 billion in 2012.
The presentation also outlined that the free zone accounted for 21 per cent of Dubai’s total trade in 2011 and 22 per cent of the emirate’s exports. Emiratisation rate in the zone stood at 70 per cent in low and medium profile jobs, and achieved 100 per cent emiratisation in leadership positions.
At the end of the presentation, Al Zarouni said the project to expand the free zone is currently being carried out at a cost of Dh260 million, and is expected to be finished before two years. He added that it will include new buildings and modern service facilities. He also pointed out that the free zone has invested an estimated Dh40 million to name a Dubai Metro station after the free zone.
Shaikh Mohammad said that the development and success attained by DAFZ is the first step towards more progress, eventually leading to excellence which the UAE strives for in all its projects and operations.
“We have surpassed the level of success, and have reached levels of excellence, which will last forever thanks to the efforts and capabilities of productive Emirati employees,” said Shaikh Mohammad.
Shaikh Mohammad also visited Panasonic’s headquarters in the UAE, where he was briefed on the company’s various products, such as the entertainment LCD screens installed in the Boeing 777 and Airbus A 380 aircrafts used by Emirates Airlines.
The screens are controlled through control centres that are located in DAFZ. Emirates Airlines pays $10 million per year LCD screen operations and installations.
Shaikh Mohammad then visited the new Dubai Airport Terminal 2 building in Al Twar. The terminal is currently being expanded to increase its maximum capacity to 7.5 million passengers a year. Shaikh Mohammad toured the new building, which was completed as part of the first phase of the three-phased project.
Shaikh Mohammad was briefed by engineers on the total building area, as well as the building’s new design that meets the needs of passengers. Shaikh Mohammad also viewed the expansion plans for the second and third phase, and expressed his satisfaction with the project. He stressed that the airport will always be at the forefront of his priorities because it represents the country’s image and is a symbol of the civilization and culture of the UAE people.
He instructed all relevant parties to provide all necessary facilities to passengers coming into the UAE from land or sea, and providing them with all means of leisure and hospitality. Shaikh Ahmad told Shaikh Mohammad that the new concourse in Terminal 2 will officially begin its operations in April 29.