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“IFZA’s organisational model is designed around an agile, business-focused community”

Martin G. Pedersen, Chairman, IFZA Dubai

As one of the leading free zones in the UAE, how does IFZA help consultants and partners lead while initiating their business model?

IFZA is known for its unique business model focused on building partnerships in the UAE and around the world. This business model is highlighted by three pillars of competence, knowledge transfer and community. We strengthen our partnerships by ensuring that we provide them with a competent, dedicated team of experts with up-to-date knowledge of the free zone industry. To ensure that our hundreds of global partners speak and act the same language wherever they are in the world, we developed the IFZA Academy, the first and only learning institution of its kind in the region fully dedicated to the free zone industry. Finally, IFZA’s organisational model is designed around an agile, business-focused community so we are able to respond to the needs and requirements of our stakeholders as quickly and effectively as possible.

To ensure that our hundreds of global partners speak and act the same language wherever they are in the world, we developed the IFZA Academy, the first and only learning institution of its kind in the region fully dedicated to the free zone industry.

- Martin G. Pedersen, Chairman, IFZA Dubai

How has IFZA changed the free zone business model in its quest to help the company formation industry grow?

IFZA constantly thinks from the perspective of our target groups, constantly refining our products and processes to ensure our clients’ excellent experience in each of their engagement with us. In addition to our approaches towards our partners, the benefits of IFZA’s culture of constant progress trickles down as well to entrepreneurs and their businesses. We constantly review our processes with the goal of simplifying the process and remove as many barriers to their entry into the dynamic business environment of Dubai.

“Dubai CommerCity offers all the e-commerce support services you need to take your business online”

DeVere Forster, COO, Dubai CommerCity

What makes Dubai CommerCity unique in terms of location and services?

Dubai CommerCity is the first and leading free zone dedicated exclusively to e-commerce. With an area covering 2.1 million square feet and an investment of around $1 billion, it is uniquely designed to support new and existing e-commerce businesses across the MENA region.

Strategically located next to Dubai International Airport, the free zone is specially designed to enable fast e-commerce fulfillment across the region. From services point of view, in terms of what is being developed, I would say Dubai CommerCity offers “e-com in a box,” where we are not just a free zone, where you not only get space for office and warehouse to set up your business, but also all the relevant support services you need to take your business online.

Strategically located next to Dubai International Airport, the free zone is specially designed to enable fast e-commerce fulfillment across the region.

- DeVere Forster, COO, Dubai CommerCity

How is Dubai CommerCity planning to attract business?

Dubai CommerCity supports new entrants to build e-commerce capabilities. We have developed a unique approach, working with our partners and the government entities here in the UAE, pushing to overcome the challenges for businesses who wish to establish their e-commerce footprint in the region, which will attract the right pool of investors to the park.

“The pandemic has given digital media the chance to shine”

Dr Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Media City — SHAMS

What are the key challenges you see SMEs facing during the pandemic and how can SHAMS help them navigate the challenges?

It is the very nature of media to adapt and evolve as per the ever-changing circumstances in the market. The media industry has been improvising consistently, even during the pre-covid era. However, the pandemic has pushed the industry into a direction where digital media is king, which is a reality most industries are gradually accepting, while adapting to the best of their abilities. The pandemic, while having an obstructive impact on traditional media, gave digital media the chance to shine.

Within Shams, we have witnessed a surge of entrepreneurs opting for our digital licences, be it e-commerce, mobile-app development or digital advertising. Businesses with a strong digital footprint have been able to weather this storm and we are gradually seeing others following suit.

How does SHAMS act as a one-stop shop for creative entrepreneurs to set up and grow their business?

Our focus on creative entrepreneurship stems from the need to support businesses, which utilise their intellectual knowledge and skills to thrive. Businesses built on creative ideas are the ones with the potential to disrupt the market and change the way business is conducted on a day-to-day basis.

Within Shams, we have witnessed a surge of entrepreneurs opting for our digital licences, be it e-commerce, mobile-app development or digital advertising.

- Dr Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Media City — SHAMS

At Shams, we fuel creative entrepreneurship by reducing their cost of entry into the market and providing them with a supportive ecosystem to thrive. Through various events and exhibitions, we also provide our start-ups a platform to showcase their business to potential clients, partners and investors.

“Our primary USP is the customer-friendly approach”

Johnson M. George, General Manager, Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone Authority

Now, that the Emirati ownership law has been abolished, what benefits do free zones provide over mainland businesses?

Although the new regulations state that all businesses are open for full direct foreign ownership, companies involved in strategic impact activities are exempt from this and will be subject to stringent review and minimum UAE shareholding and board participation requirements, which will be determined by relevant authorities in each emirate with different restrictions.

Free zones are exempt from corporate tax and customs duties. Further, free zones provide a one-stop solution to the customers like company formation, licencing, visas, facilities like office, warehouse or land, issuance of building and construction permits and all approvals, making it the best choice for foreign investors in the UAE.

- Johnson M. George, General Manager, Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone Authority

The Decree-Law came into force starting January 2, 2021, except for the provisions abolishing minimum Emirati ownership levels, the nationality requirements for directors of public and private joint-stock companies, and the removal of the local service agent requirement for branches and representative offices of foreign companies. Several of the new amendments provide for additional regulations and rules to be adopted. Hence, more clarity is required in this.

Free zones are exempt from corporate tax and customs duties. Further, free zones provide a one-stop solution to the customers like company formation, licencing, visas, facilities like office, warehouse or land, issuance of building and construction permits and all approvals, making it the best choice for foreign investors in the UAE.

What makes UAQ Free Zone unique in terms of location and services?

Our primary USP is the customer-friendly approach with personalised attention to all our clients.

We are one among the few designated free zones in the country, offering serviced and accessible industrial plots of land, ready-to-move-in warehouses of various sizes, and bespoke offices. The free zone provides a wide range of business activities like no other as well as easy access to major highways, seaports and airports.

“Covid-19 can serve as a catalyst for long-term sustainable economic reform”

Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority

How can free zones support the UAE’s investment ecosystem and stay sustainable in the long run?

Free zones are a driving force in the growth of the economy in the UAE. They help stimulate economic development, create jobs, boost and diversify exports, and expedite the industrialisation process of an economy at lower costs for the government. Incidents like the Covid-19 pandemic with a sudden drop in oil price can serve as a catalyst for long-term sustainable economic reform.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, our priorities have been to enhance the competitiveness of our operating companies.

- Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority

Now that 100 per cent ownership will be allowed in mainland, free zones have to future-proof themselves through innovation and digital transformation to remain relevant.

As one of the leading free zones in the northern emirates, how does Hamriyah Free Zone support SME investors in this challenging time?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, our priorities have been to enhance the competitiveness of our operating companies. We have launched several packages and initiatives to support all businesses and investors, including exemption on inspection fees, fines for the late renewal of commercial licences and visas, as well as 50 per cent discount on transferring shares, aligned with the government stimulus package.

Our visa validity has also been extended to three years for investors and their employees alike, which gives a positive impact on their operational costs. We are also offering new companies 20 per cent off on warehouse and office packages as well as complete exemptions on licence fees.

What makes Hamriyah Free Zone unique in terms of location and services?

More than 6,500 companies, both Fortune 500 enterprises and SMEs, currently operate and flourish at Hamriyah Free Zone.

The modern free zone is spread across 30 million square metres, offering a unique advantage of sea, land and air connectivity. Offering an access to a 14-metre deep port and 7-metre deep inner harbour, HFZA is home to the highest number of steel fabricators in the region and also a primary hub for oil and gas companies in the region. Hamriyah Free Zone Authority issues a trade licence in less than 60 minutes.

Customised world-class facilities include warehouses, industrial plots and executive office suites with a wide range of on-site solutions; coupled with a host of exclusive free zone benefits.

“RAK ICC entities are established in a matter of 2-3 days”

Dr. Sameer Al Ansari, CEO, RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC)

Please brief us on RAK ICC, highlighting how you could help a company set up an international business presence in the emirate?

RAK ICC specialises in the establishment of International Business Companies and Foundations. RAK ICC entities are established in a matter of 2-3 days through our registered agents that provide corporate services and the registered office address for the company.

RAK ICC IBC companies benefit from all of the advantages of the UAE, while conducting their international trade or holding their global assets in a world class company registry, which is based on a common law and operates in full compliance with international standards.

- Dr. Sameer Al Ansari, CEO, RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC)

RAK ICC companies are used by individuals and corporates to hold international assets and for wealth planning.

What are the key advantages of setting up an international business company at RAK ICC? How does an International Business Company (IBC) differ from a Free Zone Company (FZCO)?

RAK ICC IBC companies benefit from all of the advantages of the UAE, while conducting their international trade or holding their global assets in a world class company registry, which is based on a common law and operates in full compliance with international standards. Also, with no direct UAE premises or employee costs, these entities are more cost-effective. For companies that require offices, visas, etc,. the FZCO structure is more appropriate.

Is migration to RAK ICC from other jurisdictions possible? What are the main benefits of redomiciliations?

Companies can easily redomicile into RAK ICC from other jurisdictions, both from within the UAE or internationally. The main benefits of redomiciling to RAK ICC include the maintenance of the existing legal status of the company, the continuation of its current banking arrangements and access to Common Law Courts. We have had hundreds of migrations from many jurisdictions such as BVI, Seychelles, Mauritius, Labuan, Marshall Islands, etc.

“EMAC adds fast-track and emergency arbitration to its rules”

Majid bin Bashir, Chairman and Secretary General, Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC)

EMAC is the only specialist maritime, offshore energy, logistics arbitration centre in the Middle East. What are the key advantages of choosing EMAC for dispute resolution?

Until 2016, the Middle East was void of a place to settle specialist maritime, offshore energy and logistics-related disputes. Keeping in mind that no one enters a mutually beneficial agreement with the prospect of a dispute, when an unfortunate disagreement or conflict arises, parties want the comfort of knowing that their dispute will be technically understood by an impartial body and that the resolution or award will be enforceable in multiple countries.

Today, the UAE not only recognises the value of arbitration as a whole, through its updated federal arbitration law, but the country is home to both common law and civil law courts, making it one of the world’s leading jurisdictions to offer the co-existing systems successfully.

With the UAE signed up to the New York Convention, parties have further certainty that their award will be enforceable through the member states. In addition, EMAC has attracted world-renowned industry specialist arbitrators, mediators and experts to its panel, offering a one-stop place to find a reputable arbitrator, mediator or expert.

Today, the UAE not only recognises the value of arbitration as a whole, through its updated federal arbitration law, but the country is home to both common law and civil law courts, making it one of the world’s leading jurisdictions to offer the co-existing systems successfully.

- Majid bin Bashir, Chairman and Secretary General, Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC)

EMAC is one of the few centres in maritime that adds fast-track arbitration and emergency arbitration to its rules. The centre has adopted an approach that enables parties to conclude disputes in a cost and time effective manner while they can continue to focus on business as usual.

Today, EMAC’s offices and facilities are central to the region, making it accessible and this provides ease of access, further supporting cost reduction in dispute resolution.

What are some of the success stories of EMAC since its launch?

EMAC through a series of events, has built a brand that enables business. Today, the EMAC Breakfast series is one of the most popular gatherings in the industry where stakeholders meet to discuss issues, developments and regulations around the industry.

EMAC’s case support has increased whereby parties have recognised the efficiency and the service that the centre offers.

Through consistent stakeholder engagement, the referral to EMAC as the preferred option for dispute resolution has been confirmed in many industry relevant contracts.

One of the most important offerings at an arbitration centre is panel listings and as mentioned, EMAC has an impressive panel that offers parties a go-to when choosing a reliable arbitrator.

“SMEs are a vital component of Abu Dhabi’s business landscape”

Khalid Al Marzooqi, Director Commercial, KIZAD

What steps have you taken to boost the SME sector?

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of any economy, and are a vital component of Abu Dhabi’s business landscape. As engines for growth and employment, SMEs are one of the main pillars of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi’s (KIZAD), business strategy.

As engines for growth and employment, SMEs are one of the main pillars of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi’s (KIZAD), business strategy.

- Khalid Al Marzooqi, Director Commercial, KIZAD

As one of the leading enablers of industry, it is our responsibility to provide businesses with the opportunities to be competitive in their respective markets. The SME relief packages we announced recently are aligned with the UAE’s efforts to protect SMEs in the country from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Fujairah government provides high-quality and cost-effective infrastructure”

Sharief Habib Al Awadhi, Director General, Fujairah Free Zone

What sets Fujairah Free Zone apart in terms of location and services provided?

Three things: Cost-effectiveness, enhanced infrastructure, and the availability of manpower and decision-makers.

There’s no point having a great location without proper investment. Today, we have the deepest port in the Middle East. The Fujairah government has established authorities that provide infrastructure that is high-quality and cost-effective by international standards.

There’s no point having a great location without proper investment. Today, we have the deepest port in the Middle East. The Fujairah government has established authorities that provide infrastructure that is high-quality and cost-effective by international standards.

- Sharief Habib Al Awadhi, Director General, Fujairah Free Zone

Accessibility to the authorities is also important, and something we’ve helped a lot of businesses here with over the years. Being part of the UAE, Fujairah is empowered by the federal government – we have a desalination plant, pipeline and silos. These things breed confidence, helping to attract businesses and make Fujairah a great platform for FDI. The more we deliver businesses, the better our infrastructure will be, and the better the opportunity.

In this uncertain economic climate, how do you believe Fujairah Free Zone has risen to the challenge?

We have some strengths, like location, and have developed a few businesses that have become a niche and trademark of Fujairah.

Business is like an ocean wave. Companies have to cope with the ups and downs . When some fail, others come up. After 2020, the challenge is different. Market uncertainty will always be there – it’s related to wars, oil prices, depreciation etc. The pandemic is unusual, but there have been crises before, and people overcome these.

“We find a paradigm shift in the thought process of investors”

Syam Panayickal Prabhu, Founder and Managing Director, Aurion

How do you help entrepreneurs tap new sectors that offer growth opportunities?

As business consultants, our role is to guide entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. We support them in setting up the right legal structure so that they are on a solid platform to do the business. We always advise entrepreneurs to start a business in which they have the knowledge and confidence.

We find a paradigm shift in the thought process of investors. The freedom to do business and safety are the key drivers of growth in the SME sector.

- Syam Panayickal Prabhu, Founder and Managing Director, Aurion

Aurion has been operating in the UAE for more than a decade. How do you assess the evolution in the UAE’s entrepreneurial landscape over the past decade?

We find a paradigm shift in the thought process of investors. The freedom to do business and safety are the key drivers of growth in the SME sector. The paperless e-governance added to the transparency and precision in administrative matters. Over the past decade, the UAE has evolved as the most sought-after destination for investors to set up their establishment so that they can cater to clients in MENA, and South Asia.

Are there any exclusive Covid-related packages that the firm created to boost confidence among entrepreneurs?

Any business, which fails to respond to the Covid-19 disaster by adjusting its terms, conditions, and pricing will soon become obsolete. Keeping this in mind, we have slashed the professional service fee by half to help investors establish their entities in the UAE.

“We emerged as winners during the hard times”

Hatem El Safty, CEO, Business Link

Tell us a bit about Business Link. How diverse is your service portfolio?

With an expertise of 20 years, Business Link UAE is one of the leading business set-up consultants who serve across GCC. Our plethora of services includes business set-up in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman for mainland, free zone, offshore, company branch formation, company subsidiary set-up, PRO services, visa services, local and corporate sponsorship, company liquidation, virtual office set-up, trademark registration and many more.

The unprecedented time gave birth to numerous challenges and sailing in the same boat, we also faced these. But I am pretty impressed to see how our team changed the hardships of regulation, resource management and customer management into an opportunity and guided customers accordingly.

- Hatem El Safty, CEO, Business Link

What are the challenges the firm has faced in the past few months and how have you dealt with them?

The unprecedented time gave birth to numerous challenges and sailing in the same boat, we also faced these. But I am pretty impressed to see how our team changed the hardships of regulation, resource management and customer management into an opportunity and guided customers accordingly. We emerged as winners during the hard times and helped our clients too.

Are there any expansion plans for the firm?

Business Link plans to expand in MENA and Europe to make its services available to other countries.

“The main problem SMEs faced during the pandemic was not knowing when and how to pivot their business model”

Lorenzo Jooris, CEO, Creative Zone

How did Creative Zone cater to its client’s needs during the pandemic? Do you offer any new services or products?

We enriched and optimised our offerings that were more suitable and essential for our clients’ growth during the pandemic. We brought in more strategic and innovative partners on board, providing smart solutions and services, including special offers on Microsoft Office Suite, logistics and drop shipping services, insurance services, Zoho One platform, to name a few.

We have also partnered with institutes like Make It Happen University that offers SMEs training programmes to learn the art of selling. Our strategic partnership with the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) allows all Creative Zone women entrepreneurs get a one year free membership access.

To address the widespread challenge, we have been regularly organising webinars and workshops for entrepreneurs that initially provided them with a roadmap, a real-time sense of where businesses were heading and what needs to be done by SMEs to survive the tough phase.

- Lorenzo Jooris, CEO, Creative Zone

What are the key challenges you see SMEs facing during the pandemic and how can Creative Zone help them manage the same?

Considering the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the main problem SMEs faced was not knowing when and how to pivot their business model to adapt to the changing business landscape. To address the widespread challenge, we have been regularly organising webinars and workshops for entrepreneurs that initially provided them with a roadmap, a real-time sense of where businesses were heading and what needs to be done by SMEs to survive the tough phase.

How does Creative Zone assist businesses and start-ups post setting up?

Apart from providing several value-added services at preferential rates, we have developed effective platforms where entrepreneurs and start-ups can promote themselves. CZ Connect is one such platform where business owners and other professionals can exchange ideas, cross-sell products and services, network and establish meaningful business relationships. We frequently hold virtual networking sessions, events for the entrepreneurial community. We also help clients by featuring them on all our social channels.

“CIG has launched various flexible business set-up packages”

Ayub Ahmed Sait, CEO and Managing Director, Capital International Group (CIG)

How can CIG help entrepreneurs set up business in the UAE amid the uncertainties of the pandemic?

Since the outbreak, we’ve had to rapidly adapt and change our key operating procedures to ensure the safety of our clients and employees while still providing unconditional client services.

CIG has launched various flexible business set-up packages, which have been helping people to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey. With CIG, you can start your company from the comfort of your own home. We’ve turned the whole procedure into a digital one. We’ve also added a number of payment methods and simple payment plans to make the business set-up process as smooth as possible.

How does CIG maintain its edge over other business set-up consultants in the UAE?

We have always believed that the existing clients are the real gems of CIG. On a daily basis, we aspire to provide an unbeatable client experience. We closely work with each client, having been in the industry for over 14 years. The large number of positive reviews and referrals attest to the high quality of service provided by CIG, which is something we are proud of.

CIG has launched various flexible business set-up packages, which have been helping people to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey.

- Ayub Ahmed Sait, CEO and Managing Director, Capital International Group (CIG)

We are always with our clients in challenging times and are also there to celebrate and promote their businesses through our networks and channel. Apart from that we offer the maximum number of extended business solutions and initiatives that give them a chance to network, grow, and sustain.

What are the key jurisdictions where you can help entrepreneurs start their businesses?

We work with all the jurisdictions in the UAE and have the right expertise in setting up companies in mainland, free zones and offshore.

“We create partnerships with our clients for life”

Mariben Christine Eustaquio, Managing Director, Ezone

Could you tell us about Ezone? How does Ezone act as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to set up and grow their business?

Ezone is more than a business set-up company; we are business enablers. We do this by translating the complexities of setting up a business in the UAE into an easy process guided by our market knowledge and years of industry experience. In short, this is where the business set-up process is made easy.

Many business set-up companies like to call themselves a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs but, at Ezone, we create partnerships with our clients for life.

We are not only there for you when you want to start your business; we can also assist you to re-evaluate your growing business and provide you optimal solutions as you progress.

Many SME businesses were not ready to cope with the rapid and unpredictable changes brought about by the Covid crisis, which highlighted their weaknesses and redundancies.

- Mariben Christine Eustaquio, Managing Director, Ezone

What are the key challenges you see SMEs facing during the pandemic and how can Ezone help them manage the same?

A key challenge for SMEs during the pandemic was to ensure that their business is positioned to be resilient against ever-changing market conditions. Many SME businesses were not ready to cope with the rapid and unpredictable changes brought about by the Covid crisis, which highlighted their weaknesses and redundancies. This forced businesses to rethink their strategy especially in terms of operations, personnel, and budget to ensure that their focus is not just on immediate recovery but on long-term planning.

Ezone can support SMEs reassess their operational expenses in terms of licencing and personnel. We can provide outsourced solutions — not just for PRO services, administrative assistance, and accounting and tax work, but we can also support you in re-evaluating if your current licence is the best option for your business and if your annual licence costs are reasonable, given the current market conditions.

“We had to push our limits to circumvent the challenges posed by Covid-19”

Meet Joshi, CEO of Flyingcolour Group

What are the challenges the firm faced during Covid? How did you circumvent them?

Covid-19 has presented challenges to companies all over the world and we are not an exception. Our business set-up industry was earlier reliant on face-to-face interactions and we had to regularly liaise with clients and submit documents in person to relevant authorities, which became challenging for us when the pandemic hit. Covid has increased uncertainties over health and finances, and this impacted the business set-up sector in Dubai. We had to push our limits to circumvent these challenges.

We smoothly transitioned into remote working, thanks to our existing software. Even during the lockdown, we were able to serve our clients relatively smoothly, due to our software. Our team also worked tirelessly to serve our clients. Credit also goes to government departments, who, very quickly, adjusted to the situation, and introduced several online services, which ensured continuation of important services.

What are the main benefits that Flyingcolour offers prospective clients looking at setting up business in the UAE?

We provide expertise and research-based advisory, focusing on accurate information.

- Meet Joshi, CEO of Flyingcolour Group

Flyingcolour has 17 years of experience in the business set-up advisory field in the UAE. We have served several thousands of global clients for company formation and corporate structuring. We provide expertise and research-based advisory, focusing on accurate information. We have a team of 60 trained people to attend to our clients, and we are always working towards improving our software and technology to provide excellent customer services. We are also familiar with and have worked with most government departments; so we can provide ease of processes, and even better prices, among other benefits.

What are the future plans for the brand?

We are always looking to expand our scope of services to provide one-stop solutions to our clients. Apart from business set-up, we have established an expert division on tax advisory, accounting and VAT services.

We have also developed verticals of real estate brokerage and global citizenship, residency and immigration services (outside the UAE).

“We honour our promises to customers”

Farina Ahmad, CEO & Partner, Make My Firm

How do you maintain an edge over other business consultants in the UAE?

With right consultancy, transparency and on time delivery, we are currently managing 350 companies and helping them set up operations in the UAE. We honour our promises to customers and that’s how we maintain an edge over other companies in the UAE.

Now that the UAE allows 100 per cent ownership of business for foreign nationals, it has become easy to set up mainland companies. What are the things we need to consider before incorporating a mainland company?

To incorporate a mainland company, you need to choose the right activity, which fulfils the requirements of the business concept, select the right professional partners and the service provider, and ensure that all your legal documents are drafted by a professional consultant.

- Farina Ahmad, CEO & Partner, Make My Firm

Entrepreneurs can have 100 per cent ownership in mainland companies but this is applicable in some specific sectors and is subject to fulfilling the government criteria.

To incorporate a mainland company, you need to choose the right activity, which fulfils the requirements of the business concept, select the right professional partners and the service provider, and ensure that all your legal documents are drafted by a professional consultant.

Are there any covid-related packages that the firm created to boost confidence among the entrepreneurs?

During the current pandemic, Dubai Economic Department (DED) has introduced options where business owners can pay their licence renewal fees in 3 to 12 monthly instalments or with zero down payment and also without renewed lease contract, subject to DED approval .

“The UAE is doing a fantastic job at attracting international interest”

Karl Hougaard, Founder and Managing Partner, Trade License Zone

How does Trade License Zone act as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to set up and grow their business?

We provide guidance and a steady hand from the outset, assisting with every step of the process — business set-up and beyond. In addition to business set-up services, Trade License Zone offers a full suite of office solutions, including co-working space, dedicated fully-furnished offices, meeting room facilities, reception management and a number of other start-up-related services.

As always, the UAE is doing a fantastic job at attracting international interest on all levels of business and lifestyle, and therefore, it remains a top-ranked international destination to do business and to live.

- Karl Hougaard, Founder and Managing Partner, Trade License Zone

The SME sector is undergoing many changes in operations during the Covid era. How do you read the market in the next couple of years?

As always, the UAE is doing a fantastic job at attracting international interest on all levels of business and lifestyle, and therefore, it remains a top-ranked international destination to do business and to live. Consequently, we see more and more internationally based SMEs setting up their hub in the UAE — a trend we foresee continuing.

What are the key challenges you see SMEs facing during the pandemic and how can Trade License Zone help them manage the same?

Uncertainty regarding licence set-up options and spending money in the wrong places can be detrimental, especially when starting out. We aim to provide clarity and transparency throughout the initial set-up process and then take care of all the heavy lifting so you can focus on giving your business the best possible start.

“UAE is the best place for starting a business”

Neil Petch, Co-founder and Chairman, Virtuzone

The growth of the SME sector is critical for the overall growth of the UAE economy. How could you help entrepreneurs tap new sectors that offer scope for growth?

More start-ups from around the world will come to the UAE because they’re realising that this is the best place for starting a business. We’re working with the government in developing a borderless business environment, so companies can be set up without needing the founders to be physically present in the UAE, enabling them to seamlessly tap into business opportunities here.

What are the challenges the firm faced during Covid? How did you circumvent them?

The trust of our staff and clients is crucial to us. We made sure to provide them with a refuge from the uncertainties brought by the pandemic.

Flight to quality was also a factor. Customers were more discerning as they didn’t want to do business with companies that might not be there after a year.

Observing that our clients became more price sensitive, we worked closely with free zone authorities and our partners to reduce prices across the board. Going the extra mile for our clients allowed us to capture more market share, which helped us thrive even during this difficult time.

- Neil Petch, Co-founder and Chairman, Virtuzone

Since we’re already a trusted name in the industry, we provided them with the assurance that their companies are safe with us.

Observing that our clients became more price sensitive, we worked closely with free zone authorities and our partners to reduce prices across the board. Going the extra mile for our clients allowed us to capture more market share, which helped us thrive even during this difficult time.

What are the main benefits that Virtuzone offers prospective clients looking at setting up business in the UAE?

In the UAE, there are over 60 jurisdictions, so it’s easy to set up a business with the wrong licence. Virtuzone provides the right solution, the right price and the best value-added services. Virtuzone delivers excellent processes, quality service and spot-on advice that save people time — after all, time is money.