DUBAI, May 2, 2023 (WAM). Under His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s patronage, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended today the inauguration for the World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO’s) 9th Annual International Conference & Exhibition.
H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed stated that “Dubai’s distinguished and successful free zone model played a vital role in the economic development of the emirate. Dubai’s state-of the-art infrastructure and flexible regulatory policies, as well as its world-class facilities and services, have helped to support this vital sector and create a stimulating and vibrant business environment. The free zones in Dubai cover a broad range of economic activities. They are a magnet for global companies and businesses that specialize in various fields.
Sheikh Ahmed stressed that Dubai’s Free Zones have contributed significantly to the comprehensive development of the emirate over the last decades and will play an important role in achieving ambitious goals set out by the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. Dubai’s goal is to become one of the top three cities in the world by 2020.
H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed emphasized the role of Dubai’s free zones to achieve the vision of His highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which is to consolidate Dubai’s position as a capital of global trade and economy, and attract talent and creative professionals all over the globe. This, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed explained that the technologically advanced environment Dubai provides, along with its ecosystem, contributes to attracting new businesses.
The event is held at Grand Hyatt Dubai from 2-3 May and has the theme: “Global Trade 2.0 – Zones, an Ecosystem of trust Driving Prosperity”. On the first day, 19 ministers representing different countries attended the event. The two-day event is expected to attract more than 600 participants, including experts, entrepreneurs, and officials from free zones from 70 different countries.
In attendance were representatives from international organisations, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Customs Organisation (UNCTAD), International Road Union and the International Labor Organisation.
Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni delivered the opening address, followed by the session entitled “A System of Trust – How to Build, Operate, and Sustain it”. Ito Bisono was the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Industry. Ricardo Trevino is the Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation. Kevin Shakespeare is the Director of Strategic Projects and International Development at the UK Export and Trade Institute. Jochen Knecht and Lars Karlsson are the CEOs of IFZA Dubai and IFZA Dubai respectively. Moller.
Jeffrey Hardy is the Director-General of Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade, based in the US. Philippe Dauvergne is the CEO of Luxembourg’s High-Security Hub. Juan Carlos Buitrago Arias the CEO of Strategos in Colombia were also present.
The conference will run until the 3rd of May and include five panel discussions with 30 speakers. These panels will focus on themes such as mitigating economic challenges, creating, building and maintaining ecosystems of confidence, and ways to ensure the vitality of the free zones by ensuring their prosperity. These sessions will also cover how to cope with institutional governance changes and build trust when it comes to digitisation and data.
Al Zarooni stated, “Dubai is hosting the largest edition of AICE – World FZO’s flagship event – to show the organization’s commitment to represent the interests of free zones in the global economy. According to the latest statistics, free zones are one of the world’s most important economic engines. More than 4,000 zones around the globe provide over 80,000,000 job opportunities.
The World FZO has encouraged constructive dialogue and enhanced cooperation opportunities with international organisations, government agencies, and free zones to achieve the organisation’s growth and prosperity strategy in the global economy. The World FZO has been encouraging constructive dialogue and increased cooperation opportunities with international agencies, government agencies, free zones, and other organisations for the last decade to achieve its growth and prosperity strategy within the global economy.
Al Zarooni continued, “Dubai hosting the AICE 9th Edition highlights the emirate’s successful integrated model and interactive nature, which are reflected in the free zones. It also highlights the support of its wise leadership to realize its high economic potential. The conference also highlights the confidence of international businesses in Dubai’s Free Zones, which present an advanced concept for activating and operating them in order to achieve development. The conference will include a comprehensive discussion of the latest trends and innovation in developing the model for free zones at both the operational and infrastructure level, as well as various policies and initiatives.
World FZO is a showcase of government programs and tools that assist organisations to become future-ready by collaborating with international entities. The Izdihar Index measures the maturity of free zones and tracks their progress on various parameters. Izdihar (which means prosperity in Arabic) will evaluate free zones on parameters including labour, safety, workplace culture and business and people development. It will also assess their economic contribution.
The organization will also highlight the Safe Zone Certification Programme. This programme prioritizes safety and security within free zones by adopting rigorous standards and best practice aimed at fighting illicit trade, money-laundering, and human trafficking. This program ultimately improves employee productivity and performance, ethics, motivation, health, welfare, and morale. The “Digital Zone Certification Programme”, also offered by World FZO, aims to develop digital skills and thinking in order to transform business operations, and serve clients and investors remotely. This reflects the trend towards digitalisation.
The World FZO also announced its partnership with a number of multinational organisations that will provide distinguished professors, courses and research to enrich the content and offer valuable resources for those who are looking to improve their career and well-being. The organization also has a vertical dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), “SMEEP: Small and Medium Enterprise Educational Programme”, that aims to improve SMEs’ abilities in free zones through access to educational materials and learning tools.
World FZO has over 1 550 members from 140 countries. It is represented globally through 42 focal points at national level and 12 regional offices. The role of the World FZO continues to grow as free zones rely more on its services, contributions and network.