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Tue 28 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Action zone

With a series of mega-projects being completed this year, Jebel Ali Free Zone is reinforcing its position as the region's ultimate business hub, explains chief commercial officer Ibrahim Al Janahi.

Action zone

With a series of mega-projects being completed this year, Jebel Ali Free Zone is reinforcing its position as the region's ultimate business hub, explains chief commercial officer Ibrahim Al Janahi.

What factors have contributed to Jebel Ali Free Zone's success over the years?

Innovation has been integral to the success of Jebel Ali Free Zone. We have continued to optimise our logistics offerings over the years, whether that means the construction of new structures to accommodate demand or the improvement of existing structures to better serve our clients. All companies, from local enterprises to global multi-nationals, need assurance that their growth can be efficiently facilitated and our operations, infrastructure and service offering can meet these expectations and more.

In terms of value for money, Jebel Ali Free Zone is easily amongst the most competitive in the world.

What are the latest developments in warehouse facilities at the free zone?

Jebel Ali Free Zone is preparing for the completion of five mega-projects this year and two of them are related to warehouse operations. The first is situated in the South Zone and consists of 68 warehouse showrooms, which combine the facilities of a modern showroom and a functional warehouse. These will be ready in the next month and feature a really innovative design in terms of space, convenience and modernity.

How does this compare to the second warehousing project?

The second project is located in the North Zone, roughly 350 metres from the port, which is really convenient in terms of logistics operations. It will be ready in September 2009 and consists of 43 warehouses and light industrial units, with a height allowance of 10 metres for maximum storage. Demand for such facilities is really strong and we have received a favourable response from the market.

Are further investments also being made to develop the transportation infrastructure by Jafza?

Yes, enhancements are constantly being made in the free zone's infrastructure and this will continue at full pace in 2009. We're currently in the process of building roads, bridges and flyovers, which are approaching completion.

Will the Jebel Ali Convention Centre provide any benefits to the logistics industry?

The project spans an area of 72,200m2 and includes a range of integrated solutions, such as warehouses, showrooms, residences, medical facilities and everything a business could possibly want in a single location. The convention centre itself is being equipped with 22 meeting and conference rooms, exhibition halls and a 600-seat modular auditorium. It has been scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.

A growing number of industrial areas have been established in Dubai. Is there sufficient demand for each of these?

In terms of value for money, Jebel Ali Free Zone is easily amongst the most competitive in the world and offers a unique blend of services and benefits. In addition, we are located between the hugely successful Jebel Ali Port and the forthcoming Al Maktoum International Airport, which will be the largest cargo hub in the world. These incentives are really difficult to beat and have differentiated us from others in the Middle East and beyond.

Has there been an impact on demand for warehousing space in Dubai since the global recession started?

Trade reports have shown that growth is still occurring in Dubai's logistics industry and demand has been steady at Jebel Ali Free Zone, even with the economic situation. We have noticed that certain sectors of the market are still very active in 2009, such as the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceutical and data storage industries. Since our latest developments are demand-driven initiatives, I am confident about their success in the coming years.

How do warehouse facilities in Dubai compare to other parts of the world?

The latest warehouses in Dubai are more eco-friendly and energy efficient, which indicates that we're heading in the right direction. Since we believe that facilities should be build for the future, rather than a short-term purpose, Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza) considers a number of factors in terms of sustainable initiatives, such as using energy more efficiently and finding renewable sources of energy. This could mean the optimisation of roof lighting, for example, or searching for smarter designs that use less building material and more energy efficient fittings.

Looking at the broader picture, how does Jafza plan to expand its presence to other parts of the world?

The Jafza model has been very successful and we want to take it across the globe. This is being done by our holding company, Economic Zones World, which currently operates a free zone in Djibouti. In addition, we have penetrated the US market for the first time with a special zone that is being established in South Carolina.

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