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Sun 13 Sep 2009 04:00 AM

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Grand ambitions

Following his appointment as vice president of business park development at Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Khaled Al Mutawa highlights his ambitions for the forthcoming Abu Dhabi Airport Logistics Park.

Grand ambitions

Following his appointment as vice president of business park development at Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Khaled Al Mutawa highlights his ambitions for the forthcoming Abu Dhabi Airport Logistics Park.

What are the strategic objectives of Abu Dhabi Airport Business Park?

The business park has been designed to operate as a free zone area and forms part of a US$6.8 billion (AED25 billion) plan to develop Abu Dhabi International Airport into a world-class facility, diversify private sector investments into Abu Dhabi and generate non-aeronautical revenues. 

Will the forthcoming Abu Dhabi Airport Logistics Park be included in the project?

Yes, the logistics park will comprise one sixth of the business park's development area, which is approximately two square kilometres. Located south of the airport, the logistics park will offer a wide choice of facilities to meet investor needs, such as light industrial units of different areas and designs, commercial offices with different finishings, and plots of land for development. There are two construction phases, with the first sub-phase currently underway and due for delivery by the end of this year, while the second phase will commence in 2011 for delivery in 2015.

What type of warehousing has been earmarked for the initial phase of Abu Dhabi Airport Logistics Park?

Phase 1A comprises of 100 warehousing units built on an area of 36,000m2 and we are currently embarking on the planning and development of the second sub-phase (1B), which will be a larger area with more warehouse designs and dimensions to satisfy the latest demand requirements for modern warehousing facilities.

With a growing number of free zones in the United Arab Emirates, does the country really need another one?

Abu Dhabi has weathered the economic downturn and continues to cultivate a diverse and vibrant economy, with major developments in a number of different industries, such as aerospace and aviation, construction, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. The variety of market dynamics has fuelled demand for an integrated free zone that is well equipped for warehousing, shipping and logistics activities, together with multi-modular connectivity. Abu Dhabi Airport Logistics Park is the only airport free zone that has been planned for the emirate and will cater to this demand.

What factors make the logistics park a unique project for the Middle East?

In addition to the project's location on the main road that connects Abu Dhabi to Dubai and other Northern Emirates, the logistics park is situated on the road that connects the UAE to Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Companies with facilities in other emirates that want to reach the GCC markets for export activities have to utilise these two road transport links.

As a result, there are strong business propositions for companies to expand their warehousing and light industry facilities into ADAC Logistics Park, allowing them to cut down on shipping times and costs, bring their businesses closer to customers and gain a foothold in one of the world's wealthiest and fastest growing regions.

How will ADAC overcome the red tape and bureaucracy that investors often face?

We're establishing an investor services centre, which will act as a ‘one stop shop' solution for international investors that want to establish their operations in the business park. This will provide a smooth entrance into the UAE market for foreign-owned businesses by streamlining the processes and drastically increasing the speed of setting up operations. In addition, it alleviates the need for investors to visit a range of different government entities for their documentation and paperwork.

The centre will provide a unified interface for all business services, including assistance with business registration, sponsorship, licensing and leasing. ADAC has worked closely with government bodies such as the Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, Immigration Department and Abu Dhabi Customs to ensure the centre accommodates the necessary services at one central point, in close proximity to the park.

What are your key objectives as vice president of business park development?

There are many challenges ahead, but this makes the project more exciting. As I said earlier, this is the first airport free zone in Abu Dhabi; an economy, where the concept of free zones is still new. We therefore have a huge role to play in initiating and shaping this market in the capital. That said, there are many other well established free zones within the UAE and we have the benefit of learning from them to establish the logistics park.

We aim to apply the latest technology tools and IT systems to speed up the processes involved to clear, store and ship the goods to their final destination. Furthermore, our objective is to provide the highest standards of services to clients and ensure an excellent business experience at the park. One of the hottest topics in the market now is sustainable and green buildings. We intend to make that a major requirement in our agenda and have started talking to the responsible organisations inside and outside the region to explore opportunities to create something totally unique and world-class.

Any further comments on your vision for this project?

Abu Dhabi Airport Business Park is an intrinsic part of our wider strategy for developing ADAC's assets to facilitate and drive the emirate's future success and play a significant role in Abu Dhabi's Plan 2030. With today's advancement of new technologies, there are huge opportunities to end users, suppliers, and a broad spectrum of related industries. Today, the world is going paperless for economic, environmental and practical reasons. The way I see us advancing forward is to be innovative with the way we do business and to keep our clients at the centre of everything we do.

The ‘one stop shop' will cater to satisfy investors needs under one roof. But later, there is a plan to provide our customers with mobile services as a normal development to the way we offer services, so we are taking our customers to another level. Therefore, instead of them approaching us for their paper work, we will be visiting them to conduct all of their service needs and documentation online. Coming from an IT background, eventually, I'm aiming to establish the emirate's first Smart Free Zone and hopefully a green one too.

Project highlights

• Abu Dhabi Logistics Park is the centrepiece of a wider development plan for Abu Dhabi International Airport, which has been valued at US$6.8 billion

• The main project will measure 12 square kilometres, while the logistics park will cover approximately 2 square kilometres

• The park will benefit from the cargo, light rail and metro networks that are being planned in Abu Dhabi

• A wide range of facilities will be offered, including light industrial units, offices and plots of land for developments

• The complex is being developed in two phases, with the first phase being scheduled for completion in 2011 and the second phase in 2015

• A services centre is being opened for investors providing a ‘one stop shop' for region and international investors

• A large airfreight facility will be opened at the airport by 2012, expanding its handling capacity from 475,000 tonnes to 1 million tonnes per annum

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