Free zones helping develop the UAE economy

A journal by the Emirates Industrial Bank suggests that the expanding and growing number of free zones in the country have an important role to play in the country's economy

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By  Barnaby Chesterman Published  April 2, 2001

Free zones are set to play an ever-increasing role in the development of the UAE economy according to a journal by the Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB). Free zones are already an integral part of the development and diversification of non-oil activity in most of the country’s emirates and plans have been laid to build new free zones and expand existing ones.

According to the journal, substantial infrastructure investment in the UAE has aided the attraction of free zones by improving the throughput of their associated seaports and airports. Jebel Ali Free Zone has been the most successful to date, attracting over 1,900 investing firms in its 16-year history.

Dubai already has other free zones, including Dubai Internet City (DIC), the world’s first e-commerce free zone. Sharjah has two free zones supported by both its seaport and its airport, while Ajman, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah have all set up free zones around their seaports.

DIC is unique in that it is supported neither by a seaport nor an airport, but it is soon to be joined by a dedicated free zone in Abu Dhabi to be built on the 3,500 hectare Saadiyat island. The lure of the free zones is unquestionable with even the Ajaman zone attracting almost 500 companies and the Saif zone (supported by the airport) in Sharjah attracting nearly 400.

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