STOCK Dubai Airport Free Zone
Machinery, equipment, and appliances were the main contributor to DAFZ’s trade in 2021, making up 74.6 per cent of exports. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Non-oil trade at Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ) rose by more than 36 per cent year-on-year in 2021 – exceeding Dh162 billion last year compared to Dh119 billion the year before, it said on Sunday.

Part of the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ), DAFZ contributed 10.7 per cent to Dubai’s non-oil trade in 2021, exceeding expectations across all sectors.

The free zone also recorded a trade surplus of Dh9.3 billion. This growth was fuelled by the massive 48 per cent year-on-year increase in imports, exceeding even the record levels achieved in 2019 and resulting in a quadrupling of exports, reaching Dh1.4 billion in 2021.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of DIEZ, said: “These results have been pivotal in promoting economic recovery in Dubai and the UAE. The free zone has fully recovered from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with trade returning to pre-2020 levels. This has reinforced its mission to enhance its strategic goals and contribute to strengthening Dubai’s position as a global trade hub.

“These unprecedented results align with the national economic performance, which recorded qualitative leaps recently following the strong growth of Dubai’s non-oil trade. This has become a new base for further progress this year and in the future. Dubai has adopted various initiatives and undertaken development programmes in its commercial sectors, including a digital services system, developing its logistics infrastructure, and attracting national and international competencies. These initiatives have successfully implemented operational systems that meet the highest speed, efficiency, and competitiveness.”

Sectors and partners

Machinery, equipment, and appliances were the main contributor to DAFZ’s trade in 2021, making up 74.6 per cent of exports with a value of Dh63.9 billion, and 77.1 per cent of imports with a value of Dh58.9 billion. Precious stones, metals, and jewellery made up 19.3 per cent of exports with a value of Dh16.5 billion, and 16.7 per cent of imports with a value of Dh12.7 billion.

Asia accounted for 43 per cent of DAFZ’s total trade with a value of Dh69.5 billion, followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 37 per cent and a value of Dh60.7 billion, and Europe with 13 per cent and a value of Dh21.6 billion.

Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Executive Chairman of DIEZ, said: “These exceptional results highlight the success and effectiveness of the strategic plans developed by Dubai to enhance the growth of the non-oil trade sector and develop its operations by following a new and comprehensive organisational structure. This has resulted in establishing the integrated business environment of DIEZ, which heralds a new stage of excellence and growth across all levels, in addition to offering flexibility in adapting to regional and global conditions and turning challenges into real opportunities for all parties.”

“During the pandemic, Dubai focused on developing accurate plans and continued to strengthen its partnerships and operations, a step that facilitated these exceptional results. This year serves as a new roadmap toward achieving the strategic goals of the Emirate’s non-oil trade sector and becoming a global hub for international trade. This is evident by the overall growth of imports to the Emirate and the enabling partnerships and attraction of new global companies that have chosen Dubai as the base for their global operations,” Al Zarooni added.