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Dubai launches World Free Zones Organisation

Abdul Basit
Filed on May 21, 2014

Emirate selected as headquarters as a ‘shining example’; group open to all UN-member nations

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, officially launched the World Free Zones Organisation, in a ceremony at Emirates Towers, Dubai, on Monday.

Dubai has been chosen to house the headquarters of the newly-formed World Free Zones Organisation, which was officially launched here on Monday in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammed revealed the new organisation and expressed his best wishes for its success. He noted that choosing Dubai as the seat for the World FZO was a testimony to the success of UAE’s national free zones in attracting foreign investment, supporting the nation’s economy and development, creating diversified job opportunities and contributing to the diversification of national income.

The new non-profit entity will operate as an association for all free zones in the world — with membership open to all United Nations member countries — and launches with 14 directors representing free zones from about a dozen countries. The organisation is registered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of Dubai Ruler’s Court; Abdulla Al Shaibani, Secretary-General of the Dubai Executive Council; Juma Al Majid; and senior officials at the launch of the World Free Zones Organisation in Dubai on Monday. — Wam

“The World Free Zones Organisation… will promote a spirit of collaboration, dialogue and guidance. It will provide help to nations that can benefit from the free zone model; whose economies require foreign direct investment in order to build strong, robust and diverse economies for the future,” World FZO chairperson Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, who is also director-general of the Dubai Airport Freezone, told reporters at the launch. “The UAE has been a shining example of the dynamic role free zones play in economic and social development, and its diversity and vibrancy as a business hub has put the country on the world map. World FZO will further enhance the development of free zones in other parts of the world. With its headquarters here, Dubai and the UAE is positioning itself as a major player in the world economy in the run up to Expo 2020.”

There are 3,500 free zones in 135 countries across the world, with about 66 million workers and 96,000 firms operating within them.

The World FZO comprises representatives of established free zones as well as local, regional and international free zone associations from across the world. The 14 founding members constitute the full board of directors of the World FZO for the initial term.

Free zones contribute significantly in Dubai economy and attracting foreign direct investment, Dr Al Zarooni said. Dubai hosts 22 free zones and 19,000 companies with 226,000 staff. Al Zarooni said these free zones contribute 75 per cent of the emirate’s exports and 25 per cent of its GDP.

The World FZO will be based in Dubai Airport Freezone.

The official office-holders on the board of directors include Dr Al Zarooni as chairperson, Luis Pellerano of the Dominican Republic as vice-chairperson, P.C. Nambiar of India as secretary and Rose Hynes of Ireland as treasurer. Other board members include Nasser Al Madani, Francois Bost, Chris Okwudili Ndibe, Isidoro Hodara, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Julie Brown, Kenneth Carlstedt, Martin Gustavo Ibarra, Mehdi Tazi and Xinling Wang.

— abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com


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