UAE Zones: Fujairah Free Zone

Director General of Fujairah Free Zone I think in Fujairah and Fujairah free trade zone, we are part of the Emirates, we are Fujairah free zone know our structure, we know our capabilities, we have the supporting infrastructure such as the airports, ports, the free zone and other departments. Fujairah and Fujairah free trade zone look into petrochemicals very strongly. Fujairah will become in the next five years a base for petrochemicals and that itself is a business line.

The Emirates continues on a course of sustained industrial and commercial growth. The City of Fujairah is experiencing a property boom in residential and associated facilities. How does the Fujairah economy compare with other economies in the region and globally, in terms of how the economy is structured and trends that you see in the region?

It is very simple; what is happening next door affects you. In Fujairah the economic growth has been higher in the last few years, at least the last three years, more than over the last five years. The ratio is getting higher for two reasons; reason one is the happening in the region and two is the more you are involved in this business the more the circle becomes bigger, the contacts, networking, then one business brings another. I don’t think this is the peak. If today the growth was 5 percent I think in two years it will be 8 percent; because you need a base and I think the last 3 years, the base has been almost materialized. I think that one of the most important things in the Emirates is that the emirates are complementary to each other; definitely the growth in one area will affect its surroundings. In general, we will try to create an alternative and a complementary business.

How do you see the current business climate in Fujairah and what kind of unique opportunities can you offer to the investors?

What is maybe different from one place to another is just practicality. If a business comes to Fujairah, I would like to attract it by giving more time, more listening and looking after. In short, I think the laws and the system is the same. What is different is just the practicality and the practice which is not a problem because the acceptance from each department is there to attract new business and to take on a big challenge to attract more business in the emirate because that will help the whole economy grow.

The Free Zone of Fujairah was established with the objective to offer most liberal terms, minimum regulations, and world class facilities to all investors. How has your business contributed to enhance the growth of Fujairah? Or what were the effects of the free zone on the economic development of Fujairah?

I think the effects are very big. Today the free zone, beside the port of course, plays a major role in the economy because it has become a hub with the major types of activities such as manufacturing and processing. It helped on a very important level; today we have nearly 7,000 to 8,000 people working in different types of sectors in the zone itself. We have attracted more than 1,000 companies from manufacturing, trading to warehousing. I think as a free zone today, we have made a major change in the concept and the business attraction in Fujairah. Today we can feel many people would like to come and use us as a base because we are more prepared mentally and systematically to accept all types of foreign investment or investment that seeks lucrative and liberal system for business handling.

What kind of investors are you looking for or what kind of profiles of companies would you like to attract to the free zone? What kind of specific sectors of the economy are you developing?

I look forward to a type of processing, assembling, manufacturing but I am trying to look at smaller product type where we can have a very open scope of business market and can be converted to any type of business. As an example, I prefer business focusing on manufacturing components for different products as for example chips that go into electronic items. So the scope is that; which is what I think every free zone wants to do. Bringing technology, bringing know-how where they can develop the R&D, that is the dream. I want to bring a multi-purpose, multi-national from different sectors so that gives me a lot of international interest from all over the continents, more types of activities. I want it to be a mixture where it can serve more to a strategic development of a product. If we take an example of what has happened in China or in Taiwan, major companies from Japan started developing small products and ultimately they found out, they have almost spare parts or components for every device. Now the same things have transferred to Malaysia, it’s going to Indonesia, so this is the type of business we require; a business that can be more into processing and manufacturing.

How do you evaluate your financial performance and the amount of FDI you were able to attract over the past five years?

I can say that the last four years we have managed to increase our investment and attraction by more than 146 percent which is more than 40 percent or 30 percent. The last three years, the whole region has witnessed a lot of attraction, a lot of focus into a business development or business approaches of multi-national, so we can say the more we grow the more we have a chance. Regarding attraction I think it’s right to say over 1.3 to 2 billion Dirhams investment. I can say more than 60 percent is being done in the last four years. It is an indication that this area, this region especially in the United Arab Emirates is becoming a world base for all the types of services between trading, servicing and manufacturing and which we look forward to take the best approach needed.

As a free zone you are attracting investments from abroad. If I were an individual company willing to invest in Fujairah what is the unique mix of services and experiences you would be able to offer? In other word what is the added value you are offering to your clients?

The most important criteria for a client is the cost. I think the competition goes on because of the cost, basically everything is about the cost. We are working out the cost for the client from our point of view and I am sure our competitors look at the same aspect. Fujairah has a very unique location and this location calls for certain type of business. For example today Fujairah is recognized as one of the top 2 trading hub with petro-chemicals, so it is a niche. We have bases for certain things related to the cement industries. From my experience, sometimes I meet new clients who want to set up a business and they have been to different emirates. They choose Fujairah Free Zone because there are similar or supporting businesses there. In addition, we are within the port and the airport is less than 10 minutes away. In short, money is very important, the cost is very important. You cannot just compare one sector, you have to see it all; the cost of living, the cost of services, the schools, the proximity, and other such things.

To finalize the interview, Dubai probably has one of the best city brands in the entire world, and Abu Dhabi is trying to create its own culturally and economically sustainable economy. Fujairah is relatively less known. How do you intend to structure your marketing strategy to attract the FDI, or in other words how are you working hand in hand with other sectors and companies in Fujairah to attract investors?

I think the most important thing is that you have to develop a brand. I think in Fujairah, we are part of the Emirates, we know our structure, we know our capabilities, we have the supporting infrastructure such as the airports, ports, the free zone and other departments. We look into petrochemicals very strongly. Fujairah will become in the next five years a base for petrochemicals and that itself is a business line.

It becomes a brand name. It’s much better to do one line and be successful than do everything. We have a very good layout for tourism. Fujairah will have its own base, its own essence. I think in the next three to four years if we had the same meeting you will see Fujairah maybe developed in more of a manufacturing or a petrochemical base in the Emirates, with the pipelines coming, pumping oil here. Refinery is coming giving us an edge. The trend is that you need quality people to come to have a base here. These people will ultimately cause airports to have a better potential for airlines to come, ports to have a better potential for shipping lines. Our dream is to develop.

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