Jochen Knecht, CEO, IFZA

As we reflect on the journey of Dubai Free Zones since the inception of the first zone in 1985, it is impossible to ignore the incredible success they have achieved. These zones, characterized by their dynamic regulatory frameworks and investor-friendly policies, have evolved into essential pillars of the UAE's economy, playing a pivotal role in its rapid growth and development.

Throughout the past four decades, Dubai Free Zones have undergone a remarkable transformation. From humble beginnings, they have grown into thriving hubs of economic activity, attracting businesses and investors from every corner of the globe.

Today, they stand as beacons of innovation, offering international entrepreneurs’ opportunities such as 100 per cent ownership, low tax rates, exemption from duties and flexible business regulations. Dubai Free Zones are also designed to cater to the unique needs of specific investors and industry themes, such as health care, logistics, media, technology by offering unique regulatory and physical infrastructure.

One of the most striking achievements of the Free Zone model is its significant contribution to the UAE's economy and the vital role they play as an important driver of Foreign Direct Investment. In Dubai alone, Free Zone companies are projected to boost their contribution to GDP to Dh250 billion by 2030. This projected growth is not merely a statistical forecast, it represents a commitment to sustained economic expansion, ensuring prosperity for our international and local entrepreneurs.

As a dynamic Free Zone community based in Dubai, IFZA is proud to contribute to the nation’s growth. We leverage our strategic location in one of Dubai’s most innovation-focused districts, and combine it with the highest levels of competence, customer-oriented service and regulatory knowledge to solve ever-changing entrepreneurial needs and expand the local SME sector.

In this narrative of success, IFZA proudly assumes its role as a leading internationally focused Free Zone community, opening doors from Dubai to the world. Throughout the years IFZA has demonstrated unwavering dedication to attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Dubai and nurturing an ambitious SME sector. By offering a streamlined and investor-friendly environment to global entrepreneurs, IFZA is advancing UAE’s leading position as a globally attractive FDI location. Currently, 56 per cent of our registered businesses at IFZA Dubai are started by European entrepreneurs from countries including Germany, France, Russia and UK.

Ultimately, we support these entrepreneurs by being so much more than a Free Zone – IFZA is a community where businesses are motivated to create, inspired to succeed, and enabled to become part of an ever-evolving ecosystem that nurtures energy, creativity, and excellence.

We empower SMEs by offering them a growing range of products and services, including commercial real estate and fit-out, medical insurance, corporate banking support, professional training, events services, corporate services and so much more. As the needs of SMEs change, IFZA is committed to remaining proactive in delivering a second-to-none customer journey and experience in offering services and solutions.

With a strong emphasis on technology, sustainability, and global connectivity, we have achieved exponential growth since our inception. In Q1 of 2023, we achieved a 177 per cent increase in the number of new companies registered compared with the same period last year, alongside providing employment to more than 300 people.

Success in partnership

Furthermore, it is essential to acknowledge the collaborative approach that underpins the success of Dubai Free Zones. Inspired by the nation’s spirit of collaboration, IFZA also runs on a partnership model where we work with our Professional Partners enabling them to expand Dubai’s burgeoning start-up sector to the world.

We see that Dubai Free Zones have emerged as a resounding success story, reflecting the vision and determination of the UAE leadership. As we look towards the future, we do so with confidence, knowing that our nation’s Free Zone model will continue to be a key driving force behind the nation's economic prosperity. Together, we will contribute to writing the next chapter of this remarkable success story, shaping a future that is even more dynamic, inclusive, and prosperous for all.