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Jafza records phenomenal growth

The free zone has evolved into the region's top business hub in past 30 years.

By Staff Report

Published: Tue 23 Jun 2015, 11:24 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:47 PM

Dubai: The Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) has witnessed massive growth in the last thirty years of its operations, with its total number of companies growing from 19 in 1985 to over 7,000 today, including more than 100 Global Fortune 500 enterprises.

Dubai’s flagship free zone entity, and a globally acknowledged trade and logistics hub for the wider Middle East region that spans from West Asia, the CIS, and Africa to the Indian Subcontinent, has been one of the key drivers of Dubai’s phenomenal growth over the years.

Jafza today contributes more than 20 per cent to Dubai’s GDP, and accounts for a half of Dubai’s total exports and more than a quarter of the Emirates’ total trade. In 2014 Jafza companies are estimated to have generated trade worth over $100 billion. According to a recent Ernst & Young report, Jafza accounts for more than 20 per cent of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow into the country.

Jafza has played a very important role in the incredible growth of Dubai from a small trading city in the Arabian Gulf to a thriving metropolis and an international business hub. It started operations in 1985 with just 19 companies. Through astute planning, Jafza started attracting prominent multinationals from across the world right from the second year. By 1995 Jafza could successfully attract more than 500 of the world’s leading multinationals into the free zone carving a position for Dubai as a favoured investment destination in the region.

The free zone started with the development of land and shared warehouses, which was the need of the hour. In order to meet the growing demand, the free zone in 1996 developed its first batch of low-rise offices. This marked the beginning of a journey of remarkable growth for the free zone.Jafza was the first free zone in the region to launch a website as early as in 1999. Quality and commitment to service became the cornerstone of the free zone’s growth strategy. These initiatives were essential milestones for the free zone to achieve its aspiration to become a regional hub for international business. It continued to develop low-rise offices and in 1993 built light industrial units (LIUs) to support and facilitate light industrial activities at the free zone.

In 1996 Jafza achieved ISO accreditation; becoming the first ISO certified free zone not only in the region, but the entire world. The number of companies in Jafza crossed the 1,100 threshold in 1999 - the year in which it won the prestigious Dubai Government Excellence Program. In 2002, Jafza introduced the MyJafza portal, its second major e-initiative to enable its customers perform transactions electronically.

At the turn of this century, Jafza decided to spread its wings and established its international division to expand operations globally. In 2004 Jafza collaborated with the Djibouti government - Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority, to develop and manage the Djibouti Free Zone. Jafza also won the Dubai Quality Award for the first time in 2003 for its continued pursuit for excellence. In 2004 Jafza again won the DGEP award and was recognised as a ‘Super Brand’.

In 2007 Jafza launched the largest Oracle CRM program in the region to provide its customers with a highly focused and seamless operating environment. It pioneered the concept of one-stop-shop services by providing all kinds of business related services to Jafza customers under one roof. By doing so Jafza, demonstrated the power of collaboration to create an excellent eco-system that encourages and inspires entrepreneurship.

The next seven years witnessed several historic initiatives in terms of new products such as the development of high-rise towers, warehouses with showrooms, business centres to support start-ups, flexible customised development solutions to address customers’ specific requirements, and a multi-billion JafzaOne - the Convention Centre Complex, the first such facility within a free zone in the region.

Jafza is built around Jebel Ali Port, the largest container port in the Middle East and located next to the Al Maktoum International Airport, the region’s leading international airport designed to be the largest air cargo hub worldwide. The custom-bonded Dubai Logistics Corridor connected the Free Zone with these two enablers, making the transfer of goods from port to cargo aircraft in just 30 minutes.


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