Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority

How has HFZA facilitated entrepreneurs, SMEs as well as big business to set up shop in the UAE in such a competitive environment?

For more than 25 years, HFZA has been instrumental in facilitating entrepreneurs, SMEs, and large businesses to establish their presence in the UAE. Our ability to offer a comprehensive suite of services and solutions that cater to the diverse needs of businesses of all sizes helped thousand of company gain foothold in this competitive environment. Whether it’s the seamless setup process, strategic location, modern infrastructure, or tailored support services, we provide a one-stop destination for entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to establish and grow their presence in the UAE.

Tell us more about the recent collaboration between Singapore’s Petrozo Energy and HFZA and what this means for overall sectoral growth.

The recent collaboration between Singapore’s Petrozo Energy and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) signifies a major milestone in the growth and development of the energy sector within the free zone and the broader UAE.

Petrozo Energy, a leading Singapore-based oil and gas company will establish a new manufacturing facility in the Hamriyah Free Zone, spanning over 430,000 square feet. The company is renowned for its extensive portfolio, producing a variety of products including fuel oils, petrochemicals, bitumin (asphalt), naphtha, and waterproofing materials, catering to a diverse range of industries worldwide.

HFZA delivers advanced facilities and infrastructure, designed to provide businesses with seamless access to major global markets and support a robust industrial and manufacturing sector. HFZA is committed to tailoring our services to meet the evolving needs of manufacturers and bolstering their expansion within the non-oil sectors not only to sustain the growth of the UAE’s national economy but also to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP and reinforce Sharjah’s stature as a principal hub for production and export activities.

Petrozo Energy’s investment in Sharjah highlights the emirate’s growing appeal for foreign direct investments and further cements Sharjah’s status as a pivotal hub for expanding into regional and international markets.

Logistics forms a critical part of free zone operations. What is the impact of HFZA’s collaboration with Amazon and how this could boost productivity for both partners and benefit UAE in general?

Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) and Amazon UAE signed a lease agreement for a new logistics centre last year which will enhance delivery services for customers. Once launched, the new centre will enable a seamless delivery experience across the Northern Emirates. HFZA’s strategic location and infrastructure, combined with over 20 years of Amazon’s global technology and operational expertise will further scale convenience and reliability for customer orders.

The signing of this agreement marks a pivotal moment in the region’s economic landscape, as HFZA and Amazon UAE come together with the shared goal of driving progress, innovation, and sustainable development.

While alternative energy resources and the means to harness them is critical to the perception of the UAE as a future global hub for alternative energy sources, fossil fuels continue to contribute and drive the fortunes of the energy market globally. In this regard, what is the significance of the collaboration between HFZA and Halliburton earlier this year to set up a factory to manufacture cutting-edge drilling equipment, as well as the deal signed with Indian firm, Infinite Mining & Energy to invest in and set up a multifunctional oil refinery in the free zone?

The collaboration between HFZA and Halliburton last January to establish a factory for manufacturing cutting-edge drilling equipment holds significant importance within the context of the UAE’s energy landscape. While the UAE is indeed positioning itself as a global hub for alternative energy sources, it remains deeply connected to the fossil fuel industry. The partnership with Halliburton underscores the HFZA’s commitment to innovation and technology advancement within the traditional energy sector, ensuring its competitiveness and sustainability in a rapidly evolving market.

Similarly, the deal signed with Indian firm Infinite Mining & Energy to establish a multifunctional oil refinery in Hamriyah Free Zone further solidifies the free zone’s role as a key player in the energy industry. This collaboration not only enhances the UAE’s refining capabilities but also strengthens economic ties between the UAE and India, two major players in the global energy market. The refinery’s multifunctional nature indicates a strategic approach to diversification within the fossil fuel sector, allowing for greater flexibility and adaptability to changing market dynamics.

Overall, these collaborations highlight HFZA’s commitment to driving innovation, fostering partnerships, and capitalizing on opportunities within the energy sector, both traditional and alternative. By leveraging its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and business-friendly environment, HFZA continues to play a pivotal role in supporting the UAE’s energy ambitions and contributing to its position as a leading player in the global energy market.

How do you see the UAE steel and construction sectors growing and what is HFZA’s role in it?

The UAE’s steel and construction sectors are poised for significant growth in the coming years, driven by ongoing infrastructure development, urbanization, and diversification efforts. The sectors will continue to play critical roles in the growth of the UAE economy in years to come.

HFZA contributes to this significantly through its large number of steel manufacturing and fabricating companies with Ikigai Steel further adding into the numbers. Ikigai Steel will establish a new factory in Hamriyah Free Zone stretching over an area of 548,000 square feet and boasting an annual production capacity of 30,000 tonnes. The factory will be equipped with state-of-the-art plant and equipment, providing cutting edge technologies and high-end solutions for the iron and steel industry, backed by an estimated initial investment of AED 30 million.

HFZA prioritises heavy industry and provides exceptional incentives and facilities, allowing investors to enhance production efficiency. By establishing a factory at Hamriyah Free Zone, Ikigai Steel gains access to strategic advantages such as streamlined processes, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment. This enables them to efficiently manufacture and distribute steel products to meet the growing demand within the UAE and the wider region.

Furthermore, HFZA’s participation at industry events like SteelFab 2024 provides a platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and showcasing the capabilities of the free zone in supporting the steel and construction sectors. Through these collaborations and engagements, HFZA reinforces its commitment to facilitating the growth and success of key industries, contributing to the overall economic prosperity of the UAE.

Food manufacturing and retail are major components of HFZA’s client portfolio. In this regard what were the free zone’s major takeaways from Gulfood 2024, how is the turnkey exhibition supporting your vision and growth plans for HFZA in terms of attracting investment?

Food manufacturing and retail represent significant sectors within HFZA’s client portfolio. The major takeaways from Gulfood 2024 have been instrumental in shaping our growth plans and vision for attracting investment. The turnkey exhibition has provided invaluable insights into market trends, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies in the food industry.

HFZA’s Food Park is a central hub for the UAE’s food industry, spanning 11 million square feet and accommodating over 1,700 food companies. It offers essential facilities like land, warehouses, and offices while fostering an environment for growth and innovation.

By participating in Gulfood 2024, HFZA has been able to showcase the Food Park, as an ideal destination for food-related businesses seeking to establish a presence in the region.

With advancing technology and a host of nascent sectors including Artificial Intelligence, drones, biotechnology and more drawing investor interest globally, do you see a shift in business mindsets for free zone operations in Sharjah and the UAE? In this regard, what is your growth strategy over the next five years and how do you see HFZA continuing to play key roles in supporting the Sharjah economy and that of the UAE?

As market dynamics and demand evolve, HFZA is committed to thinking innovatively to sustain its growth trajectory. Over the next years, our growth strategy revolves around diversification, innovation, and sustainability. We aim to expand our portfolio of industries beyond traditional sectors while leveraging emerging technologies to enhance efficiency and competitiveness.

Key elements of our growth strategy include attracting high-value industries, fostering a culture of innovation through Training, R&D initiatives, and promoting sustainability practices across all operations.

In supporting the Sharjah economy and the wider UAE, HFZA will continue to play a pivotal role as a driver of economic diversification and growth. By attracting investment, creating job opportunities, and fostering entrepreneurship, we contribute to the overall prosperity of the region. Furthermore, our focus on sustainability aligns with the UAE’s vision for a green economy, while our efforts to promote innovation and technology transfer contribute to advancing the nation’s knowledge-based economy agenda