Jamal Bin Marghoob, Senior Director of Sales at DAFZA, on the free zone's operations and services

Have you witnessed any growth in the number of your registered companies this year?

In the first half of 2018, Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) announced strong business results, showing an 11 per cent growth in the earnings before interest and depreciation (EBID) compared with the same period in 2017 and a growth of new rental revenues by 27 per cent. The results included a 10 per cent increase in licensing revenues and a 31 per cent increase in revenues from government services, resulting in a total revenue growth of 8 per cent compared to the first half of 2017.

DAFZA achieved a solid 15 per cent growth in the number of registered companies over the same period in 2017, providing the ideal environment for attracting more foreign investors, long-term investments, business activity and development as well as world-class infrastructure, services and logistics facilities.

This was a result of DAFZA's strategic plan set in early 2017, which is in line with the ambitious objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021. One of the key elements of the plan is to support Dubai in becoming one of the most innovative and progressive cities that hosts world-class free zones across the globe.

One of the key elements of the plan is to support Dubai in becoming one of the most innovative and progressive cities that hosts world-class free zones across the globe.

- Jamal Bin Marghoob, Senior Director, Sales, DAFZA

The success witnessed by DAFZA came with a steady increase in leasable area reaching 43 per cent compared to 2017, with a 63 per cent growth in warehouses and 29 per cent increase in office space. This is also a result of DAFZA's wide range of services and facilities along with its strategic location, linking it to local, regional and global markets. As for the DAFZA Industrial Park, the first expansion project outside DAFZA's boundaries located in Al Qusais Industrial Area, it witnessed an occupancy rate of 82 per cent during the first half of this year.

Could you give us an idea on DAFZA' warehousing infrastructure? Who are your key clients?

Dubai Airport Freezone offers a wide range of products to suit business preferences, whether it is fully furnished office packages, customizable office solutions, warehouses, light industrial units (LIUs) or retail outlets. Businesses can choose the best option to set up operations in our state-of-the-art Business Park.

We offer high quality, thermally insulated, and purpose-built, LIUs that are often used as warehousing for storage and distribution, an assembly factory and/or light production. If required, multiple units can be rented to suit larger requirements.

In terms of industrial units, we have developed the DAFZA Industrial Park which is located in Al Qusais, just five km from Dubai International Airport. We offer a unique multi-client warehousing model allowing flexibility in storage and ultra-fast operational efficiency with zero operational hassles, meaning clients can also make use of flexible leasing options in a shared warehouse space.

DAFZA remains committed to attracting international companies seeking to expand their business in the region. Many leading international companies have established their regional headquarters in the free zone, such as the Irish Aerogen specialised in healthcare and medical devices; the Japanese ASAHI YUKIZAI, a leading company in industrial resins and plastic valves, VA Tech WABAG Limited MEA SoncieWall MEA FZCO, etc. This asserts the quality investment facilities and services that contribute to the success of any company at regional and global levels.

In what sectors of the market do you see demand for your warehouses?

We see demand growing across a wide range of sectors including aviation, medical and pharmaceutical as well as consumer goods.

Last year, DAFZA launched a restructuring process of free zone licenses and related fees. This is enhancing the setup and operation experience for investors who wish to set up in the free zone by offering them greater flexibility in choosing the business and service activities that best correspond to the nature of their work.

Supporting growth across 18 major sectors, the new license structure is in line with ISIC Rev 4, the UN benchmark for classification of economic activities. The new license structure was introduced to new investors and current customers at the end of Q3 2018.

DAFZA declared that more initiatives and incentives are in the pipeline, including facilitating the issuance of No Objection Certificates, in order to facilitate investment processes and provide an optimum business environment that will continue to attract FDI.

What initiatives have you taken to improve business set up for customers?

In 2018, DAFZA reduced business setup cost by up to 65 per cent, as part of its aim to increase regional competitiveness and activate a number of key sectors by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Supporting Dubai's efforts to become a premier destination for investment and prosperity, the decision is helping to achieve further stability for the operational processes of free zone companies and consequently sustain and drive investment growth.

These incentives were agreed upon following comprehensive studies and polls evaluating the free zone's initiatives, services, and business environment. This has allowed us to ensure flexibility at DAFZA in meeting the requirements of new foreign investors and current customers.

We are offering unique services that take into account the global economic climate and allow customers to increase earnings and operational profits as well as achieve business growth and prosperity. The ultimate goal is to drive local economic development and support the sustainability of direct FDI, accelerating and increasing its contribution to Dubai's GDP.

What kind of cold storage facilities do you offer to your clients?

DAFZA Industrial Park has 33 state-of-the-art warehouses, including 10 cold-storage units with power availability to suit any business size (up to 200 kW) at a competitive price. Customers have the ability to customise the areas that they select based on their requirements and the needs. For example, healthcare is one of the core innovation sectors which has been growing rapidly in Dubai in terms of foreign direct investments due to the various working and living incentives offered by the city. DAFZA’s light industrial units were created with cold storage features that are highly suitable for the pharmaceutical industry as well as other sectors such as consumer goods.