Dubai, UAE: The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) brought together over 50 expert speakers in 10 virtual industry panels, 5 live webinars, and an online exhibition over 15 to 17 September to explore solutions for the post-pandemic business landscape.

The NWM took a holistic digital approach to address business concerns across a range of industries that included aviation, manufacturing, digital communications, logistics, and energy, as well as broader topics like cross-border trade and workforce dynamics.

Over 3,000 from 153 registered to view the films and attend the live webinars. The event garnered tremendous audience resonance fueled by solid presence from the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, and India. The largest viewing numbers were achieved on the Cross-border trade panel and the Logistics panel, reflecting the focus of the business community’s concerns in the current environment. The Classic and Innovative Zone Models webinar garnered the largest audience, with several questions focused on original solutions implemented by zones, highlighting the interest for innovative zones. Over 40 World FZO partners showcased their credentials in our virtual exhibition stage, offering tremendous exposure to our global audience. The range and reach of this NWM event was in line with the World FZO’s strategy to offer its members and stakeholders a comprehensive range of interactive vectors including an annual hybrid event, regular webinars, a B2B platform, and periodical surveys that provide valuable, actionable data on the business landscape.

His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni, Chairman of the World FZO, explained that “it is important to share insights and knowledge beyond our core free zone stakeholders by reaching out, through events like these, to the global business community. Such initiatives can help rebuild trade dynamics with more resilience as we emerge together from this global pandemic crisis.”

C-suite executives, global decision-makers, and acclaimed industry experts took part in ten industry panel discussions, featuring edited excerpts from over thirty interviews conducted digitally by the World FZO. They examined the changes brought about since the start of the pandemic, the companies and regions most affected, the short-term challenges facing each sector, the ways in which companies should transform their internal operations to adapt to these threats, as well as the new business models likely to emerge in the medium and long term, the opportunities these will bring, and the macro impact on the global value and supply chains across industries.

Beyond these recorded interviews and edited panels, five live webinars focused on trade-related issues, including operational strategies, e-commerce solutions, clean trade, digital infrastructure, and customs border management. Interactive Q&A sessions allowed viewers to ask key questions to speakers for additional, direct feedback on business strategy issues. The dedicated virtual exhibition space enabled online attendees to network and connect with individuals, companies showcasing their credentials, and regional World FZO outposts located around the world.

Key takeaways from these dozens of interviews and discussions point to a more collaborative business dynamic across sectors, with increasing digitization in every industry. A redesign of business models around contactless transactions was defined as essential to a more robust economy, particularly in retail-oriented sectors. More flexible employment models are also likely to emerge, reducing work stability but letting employees gain more control over their careers while also placing more burden on them to train and expand their skillset. Recovery is not expected before the end of 2021 in most areas, with disruptions to the global value chain pushing some companies to source locally while also seeking resilience by diversifying their foreign suppliers. Cashflow will remain a major obstacle to tackle, particularly for SMEs, while transparency and focus on sustainable development goals will become essential priorities for larger multinational enterprises. Platforms like the NWM allow these messages to spread far and wide so businesses have time to prepare, adapt, and transform to meet these challenges head on.

The NWM event partnered with the Dubai Airport Free Zone, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and MIC. Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni stated that “the NWM event channels the most relevant, actionable intelligence for business professionals seeking solutions to survive amidst a permanently redefined industry landscape.” The World FZO will publish ten industry reports capturing the conclusions of each of the NWM panels, complemented by detailed in-house research, to offer the business community a deep-dive into the industry sectors most pertinent to their needs. The combination of recorded and live content, interactive tools, and research documents make the NWM a unique, comprehensive, holistic digital experience to help steer business entities through this crisis. The full palette of videos can be accessed at

Since the World FZO was created in 2014, it has worked tirelessly to help free zones enhance their services and deliver more value to all their stakeholders, from their host economies to their member companies. As free zones continue to channel a growing share of global trade, events like the NWM offer new ways to explore the free zone business model and adapt it to a new global post-pandemic landscape. “This digital event experience is our contribution to the world’s economic recovery,” stated Dr. Mohamed Alzarooni, “so that as many private and public sector entities can benefit from the expertise of leaders in their field as they work to build new operational dynamics into their business affairs and new resilience into their business models.”

About the World FZO

The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) is a global not-for-profit organization that provides one authoritative, collective voice representing the interests of free zones around the world. Registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and headquartered in Dubai, UAE, since 2014, the World FZO aims to enhance free zones’ global contribution to economic prosperity and social development by fostering best practices, sharing industry knowledge and supporting clean trade policies through standardized regulation, globally recognized certification programs, and solid compliance models amongst its more than 600 members in over 130 countries. 

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