The Business Year

HE Khalifa Zaffin

UAE, DUBAI - Real Estate & Construction

Built around Happiness

Executive Chairman, Dubai Aviation City Corporation


HE Khalifa Zaffin is the Executive Chairman at Dubai Aviation City Corporation, the parent organization of Dubai South. Zaffin is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. In addition to his role at DACC, he is also the Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, the construction arm of the Dubai aviation sector dedicated to developing the infrastructure and enhancing the capacity of airports. Prior to his two decades of experience in aviation, Zaffin was Senior Project Engineer at Dubai Aluminum Company Ltd. (DUBAL).

TBY talks to HE Khalifa Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation, on attracting investment, what makes Dubai South the preferred place to live, and its long-term vision.

What was the main reason behind the rebranding of Dubai South?

Dubai World Central rebranded to Dubai South for several good reasons. The new name gives the city a stronger and more distinct identity. It communicates the sheer scale of the city and indicates the direction in which Dubai is now expanding geographically as well as figuratively. Figuratively, because Dubai South has been described as the Emirate’s flagship urban project that aims to achieve the happiness goals of Dubai Vision 2021. This vision, as outlined by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, directs that Dubai strive to become a city of happy, empowered, and creative people, since happiness is the true measure of successful governance. And since Dubai South is being built around the happiness of the individual, it is also taglined the “The City of You.”

What are the main features of Dubai South?

Dubai South is a master-planned smart city measuring 145sqkm. It has eight integrated districts; residential, commercial, aviation, logistics, golf, exhibition, humanitarian, and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), which will become the largest airport in the world upon its completion. As a city, Dubai South will support a population of around 1 million people. It is a growing platform that is hosting an ever-wider range of business and industrial activity. That said, the city lends itself naturally to the aviation and logistics sectors. Ultimately, the city, with its various free zones, will generate about half a million jobs.

How well connected is Dubai South to the rest of Dubai?

It is well connected, both in terms of travel times and transport services. The city is served by three arterial roads; Sheikh Zayed Road, Emirates Road, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. The RTA runs regular bus services that shuttle regularly between Ibn Battuta Metro Station and the Al Maktoum Airport, running through Dubai South. Bus services will be expanded to keep up with the increasing people traffic. RTA has also announced plans for the extension of the metro line. The Purple Line is scheduled for completion in time for World Expo 2020. In terms of travel time, Dubai South is located just a 20-minute drive away from Dubai Marina, and 50 minutes away from Abu Dhabi.

What are you doing to attract foreign investment to Dubai South?

All of our investors appreciate the unique position Dubai South enjoys vis-í -vis its ability to function as the region’s main aerial gateway. They also know that this advantage will grow exponentially once air traffic at Al Maktoum International (DWC) surges. Also, the Jebel Ali Sea Port is just a 10-minute drive away from the gates of Dubai South, and the port and Al Maktoum International is just 15 minutes away. The outstanding location offers unparalleled opportunities for aviation and logistics players who want to move their sea-to-air goods in record times to serve the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. We have also prepared a broad range of assets and solutions for all kinds of businesses that are looking to set up shop here—one more advantage our investors appreciate. In terms of investor outreach, we continually communicate our value proposition to various target markets in North America, the sub-continent, Europe, China, and Africa. We organize international roadshows from time to time, and have an active calendar in terms of participation in key events globally.

What is your long-term vision for Dubai South?

We are working to become the manifestation of Dubai Vision 2021, to establish a city of happy, empowered, and creative people. In terms of realizing HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision to make Dubai the aviation capital of the world, Dubai South will meet its role by becoming the epicenter of aviation activity. We are also growing a world-class business and industry platform that serves as a powerful engine for economic diversification and GDP generation. Dubai South is thus aiming to become the preferred place in which to live, work, and invest.



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