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Tue 1 May 2007 01:52 PM

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Cool runnings

As the summer season fast approaches, Ibrahim Ali, marketing director at Dubai Flower Centre, updates Air Cargo Middle East & India about the latest happenings in the UAE's coolest quarters.

What is Dubai Flower Centre's vision and what does it offer potential customers?

Dubai Flower Centre was born from a vision to provide a comprehensive, world class airfreight gateway for perishable goods, meeting the logistical needs of the region and beyond.

With a modern infrastructure, world class communication facilities and open business environment, Dubai offers the ideal location for global logistics activities. The flower centre has been designed to boost the overall perishable cargo handling capacity at Dubai International Airport. It was created at a cost of US$70 million and has the capacity to handle a maximum 180,000 tonnes of perishable products annually.

What kind of cool chain system and services does the centre provide?

Dubai Flower Centre is committed to maintaining the cool chain throughout the logistical process and uses the latest technology to ensure the chain is never broken or distracted. Industry standards assume 20% of the perishable cargo's value is lost during breaks in the supply chain, so we have created a tightly controlled environment, from plane to shipment, which prevents this from happening. The process involves refrigerated dollies transferring pallets between the flower centre and aircraft, followed by automated handling equipment moving the cargo through X-ray to Electronic Transfer Vehicles (ETVs), and through sealed and temperature controlled airlocks to the storage area.

What makes Dubai Flower Centre a commercially viable project?

The centre nurtures strategic connections between markets and regions with strong growth potential. This enables tenants to capitalise on the commercial opportunities created by a rapidly expanding industry. We serve an international market of over two billion potential consumers and a local GCC market with a GDP of nearly $540 billion. Besides, the perishable cargo transhipment facility allows access to more than 113 airlines through Dubai International Airport.

What are the benefits of Dubai Flower Centre operating as a free zone?

Operating in a free zone environment offers companies mutiple benefits. For example, it ensures seamless and prompt delivery from producer to the end user, regardless of their location. In addition, international traders can establish offices and warehouses in the free zone for value-added services like sorting, repackaging, bouquet-making and packaging for supermarkets. The centre also acts as a one-stop-shop for local and international buyers, traders and exporters.

How successful was Dubai Flower Centre's recent global delegation trips?

We have visited several regions now, which has proved instrumental in attracting an increasing number of companies from Latin America, Asia, Africa and other regions. Companies that have already established their offices at the flower centre are keen to tap into Dubai's logistical and geographic advantages, and of course the superior infrastructure available at the facility. During the past six months, we have been participating at key international floriculture and horticulture exhibitions to increase awareness about the facilities available in the Dubai Flower Centre. Following our visits to Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Japan and China, we found that flower growers and exporters in those countries are keen to be part of our growth story.

What role is the flower centre playing in the growth of the floriculture industry?

According to His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and chairman of Emirates Group, with the commissioning of Dubai Flower Centre, the perishable trade will benefit within the GCC region and beyond. Our 180,000 tonne capacity will establish the centre as one of the defining links in the global cool chain process. Perishable cargo is set to become increasingly important to airlines, airports and logistics companies in the coming years.

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