Dubai’s JAFZA to benefit from infrastructure expansion and strengthening of feeder services
By Manik Mehta, AJOT
Dubai, devoid of neighbouring Abu Dhabi’s rich oil and gas reserves, has been resorting to commercially imaginative ways to prop up its economy. Its Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is expected to benefit from the expansion of ports and feeder services in Dubai.
Dubai officials at the recent Hannover Industrial Fair in Hannover, Germany, touted Jafza as the “world’s largest and fastest growing free zone,” claiming that it is home not only to some 6,700 companies from 150 countries but is also the leading economic driver of the emirate. The port infrastructure is also going to be modernized and expanded, including facilities for distribution of goods and strengthening existing feeder services.
“Its outstanding logistics infrastructure is its key strength. Situated between Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, the world’s 8th largest container port and the upcoming Al Maktoum International Airport, a major air-cargo hub, Jafza is possibly the only free zone in the world located between the two major logistics enablers,” Adil Al-Zarooni, senior vice president at Jebel Ali Free Zone, told the American Journal of Transportation at Hannover.
Adil Al-Zarooni – Senior VP at Jebel Ali Free Zone
Dubai, Al-Zarooni went on, had assumed “great significance” as a logistics hub in the region. “Logistics is not just about cargo … it is also about people. The customer base we serve extends beyond logistics and encompasses some 2.4 billion people, stretching from South Asia to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Our reach goes into the African continent,” he maintained.
Some 44.5 million TEUs were handled by Dubai Port which is by far the busiest seaport in the region. Jafza, located at the seaport, is just 30 minutes away from the airport. “This distance will be further reduced to 17 minutes by the end of next year, facilitated by additional road connections,” Al-Zarooni said.
Jafza’s infrastructure expansion will soon be completed. “We are building bridges, roads and highways, and other facilities to help speed transportation and distribution of goods. This will, of course, provide a strong impetus to the feeder services,” he added.
Juggling with figures, Jafza’s executive vice president said that more than 125 Fortune 500 companies currently maintained a presence in the Jafza area. Jafza, he added, contributed some 20.1% of Dubai’s GDP or about US$ 77 billion of the emirate’s GDP of US$ 205 billion in 2010.
Al-Zarooni highlighted the fact that Dubai offered “cultural similarities” to the people of the Indian subcontinent whose companies were increasingly establishing a base at Jafza, attracted by “100% foreign ownership, zero tax and zero customs tariffs for both imports and exports.” Dubai had pitched at Hannover with Jafza because of its “historic ties” with Germany whose corporate sector had maintained a strong presence in the Gulf region through Dubai.