Businesses who set up their base in free zones across Dubai are advised to capitalise on the stimulus measures and incentives offered by the government in the last few months to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing a webinar on Tuesday, several senior Dubai officials highlighted the role of free zones in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and driving economic growth. Khaleej Times was the media partner of the webinar hosted by the Dubai FDI.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of Dubai MultiCommodities Centre (DMCC); Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of Corporate Strategic Affairs at DED; Ammar Al Malik, managing director of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City; and Tahnoon Saif, CEO of MBR Aerospace Hub for Dubai South, also addressed the webinar.
Following the global outbreak of Covid-19, the UAE government launched a Dh282.5 billion stimulus package to help businesses, while the Government of Dubai also offered a Dh1.5 billion package to offset the impact of the pandemic.
Bin Sulayem said Dubai will become benchmark of success of how it handled Covid-19 and excelled in overcoming the pandemic.
In a short time, he added, Dubai will overtake Antwerp in the diamond business. "Africa depends on Dubai for the best rate of diamonds. We haven't scratched the surface when it comes tapping the India and high net worth individuals," he added.
Faster growth in H2
DMCC added over 800 companies in the first half of this year, is aiming to grow faster in the second half and surpass H1 figures as it looks to expand its portfolio.
"We are closely studying spice and chilly sectors and want to list black pepper. It is a very successful contract and is trading well in India. We have registered over 800 companies in first six months. We are looking to break that record in the next six months. We have seen much faster growth in June and July. For coffee center, we had the biggest spike in growth during lockdown," Bin Sulayem said during the webinar hosted by Dubai Economy.
The Dubai-based free zones have offered a host of incentives to help private sector including deferring rentals for up to six months, easy installment facility on payments, refund of security deposits and guarantees, cancellation of fines, and permission for temporary job contracts that allow free movement of labour within the free zones for the rest of the year as part of the stimulus measures.
Free zones in Dubai attracted 101 greenfield FDI projects in 2019. The free zones contribute to one-third of Dubai's GDP and together and host 44,985 companies with nearly 389,336 employees.
Bin Sulayem added that DMCC will target blockchain start-ups to set up their bases in Dubai. "We are looking at incubating and supporting startups. We are also working with UAE regulator to have crypto asset regulations licence activities."
Ammar Al Malik said the region is full of opportunities as a lot of companies have started innovation centres in the last few years. "Many companies started innovation centres in Dubai Internet City also. These innovation centres will be a norm in coming years."
Saif said that Dubai South attracted two big Asia companies which is a is direct foreign direct investment into the emirate. "We are witnessing growth in e-commerce industry. We have two main players and smaller players joining the league. With more digitalization, there will be more opportunities in e-commerce, cargo and shipment segments, Trust of the people in this country has increased, hence, we expect more high net worth individuals to move to Dubai," he added.
Mohammed Shael Al Saadi said public and private sectors are closely interacting and the stimulus packages announced by the governments were introduced after consultations with private sector.
"We have been engaging with businesses regularly. They gave us so many feedback and then we sent it to Command and Control Centre and many of those protocols implemented during Covid-19 came out from them. We deal with private sector employees like government sector employees. Private sector is very satisfied that officials are interacting with them proactively. We held a lot meetings with them during lockdown; we were very close to investors," Al Saadi said.
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