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Dubai’s free zones contribute 38% to Dubai’s total foreign trade in Q1 2021

The Dubai Free Zones Council (DFZ Council) held its 18th meeting, headed by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Free Zones Council, to discuss strategic initiatives that support Dubai-based startups and SMEs, in coordination with business accelerators, to boost Dubai’s status as a preferred destination for foreign direct investment and innovation.

Referencing its registered Dhs135 billion in foreign trade in Q1 2021, approximately 38% of Dubai’s total foreign trade, HH Sheikh Ahmed lauded the role of Dubai’s free zones in creating a refreshing trade corridor with global markets and attracting foreign direct investments to Dubai in battling with the COVID-19 implications.

HH Sheikh Ahmed emphasised that the highly flexible environment that Dubai’s free zones created through its value-added and incentivised initiatives has proven its exceptional economic model. He noted that Dubai’s free zones’ competitiveness had gained the confidence of the global business community.

DFZ Council members highlighted that the recent decisions are taken by the UAE Cabinet, namely resolution no. 16 of 2020 concerning the determination of the positive list of economic sectors and activities eligible for foreign direct investment and percentage of their ownership, boost the ease of setting up and doing business in the UAE and the national economy’s competitiveness.

The decisions also create a surge of attractive opportunities for talent, expertise, and innovative ideas from around the globe.

HH Sheikh Ahmed said: “The decision coincides with Dubai’s preparations to host Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest global event of its kind, as it will have a strong positive impact on attracting foreign direct investment. Our economy presents a real example in boosting the global business community’s confidence to invest due to its flexible and secure business environment, the advanced and world-class infrastructure, and high quality of life that allows global talents and investors to consider it home.”

Business accelerator unit
DFZ Council members also reviewed the Business Accelerator Unit initiative, which coordinates meetings with relevant entities, companies, and investors, to evaluate challenges and propose innovative solutions that support a diversified, sustainable economy.

In contribution to achieving the fastest economic recovery globally, they refer to local and international success stories across business sectors and innovate action plans to accelerate business establishment and development across different stages of the value chain, positioning Dubai as a preferred destination for business and innovation.

Dubai SME representatives also presented the Promising Startups Platform initiative in detail, aiming to attract startups to Dubai, especially those developing unique, sustainable economy concepts, in collaboration with an integrated network from 15 countries.

The unified record and capabilities database
During the meeting, DFZ Council members also reviewed the developments of the unified record that aims to integrate open data using the latest artificial intelligence systems in offering government services, in line with Dubai’s status as the smartest city in the world. They also reviewed the list of participating government entities.

DFZ Council members also reviewed an initiative to link free zone employees with the Unified Registry of Dubai Government Employees, which was recently created to be the sole official source of information on Dubai Government employee data and a classification system to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data.

The unified database will be a certified source detailing the unique capabilities and skillset available in different specialties across participating entities.