Office buildings in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza). Jafza’s active secondary market has witnessed an increase in the number of properties available for sub-lease and sale, leading to a decline in capital values over the last 12 months. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Visas for the thousands of employees working at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) will now be processed within 24 hours.

Jafza on Monday signed a deal with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDFRA) that seeks to fast track and improve visa processing for people working in the emirate’s major business hub, as well as in the National Industries Park (NIP).

“The time taken to process visas and related transactions is being cut to 24 hours,” the subsidiary of global ports operator DP World said in a statement.

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Under the agreement, the GDFRA will deliver "enhanced services" to firms operating both in Jafza and NIP. The move is expected to benefit more than 150,000 workers employed in at least 7,500 companies.  

The agreement between GDFRA and Jafza is also seen to boost productivity within the businesses operating in the free zone and NIP.

The free zone alone attracts more than 20 per cent of the UAE’s foreign direct investment. It is home to thousands of companies, many of which are catering to major markets in the region and the rest of the world.

According to the latest figures, trade between Jafza and India reached over $3.4 billion in 2017. Those dealing in automotive and spare parts also recorded business worth Dh39.5 billion in the same year.

“Simplifying business process results in increased efficiency and more productive companies and employees,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive officer of DP World.

“The agreement represents a new phase of cooperation with the GDFRA and integrates business practices as directed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.”