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Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni

UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Diplomacy

Mohammed Al Zarooni

Director General, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)


Mohammed Al Zarooni graduated with a PhD from the University of Durham in the UK. With more than 22 years of experience in setting up and managing free economic zones, he is considered one of the world’s top free zone experts. In 2000, Al Zarooni was appointed Director General of DAFZA. In 2002, the Dubai government appointed him vice chairman & CEO of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), one of the most advanced and successful technology hubs in the region. He continues to concurrently lead both Dubai Airport Freezone and Dubai Silicon Oasis. In 2014, Al Zarooni was instrumental in the conceptualization and establishment of the non-profit World Free Zones Organization. He is presently the chairman of this multilateral organization and is also the general secretary of the Dubai Free Zone Council.

In addition to pursuing an aggressively innovative trade and industrial policy, DAFZA is working behind the scenes to boost Dubai's role as the world's most dynamic hub for global halal services.

What is DAFZA’s position within Dubai’s industrial sector, and how does it contribute to the Emirate’s industrial strategy?
DAFZA supports Dubai’s industrial sector growth and the Emirate’s industrial strategy by aiming to increase the total output and value-addition of the industrial sector, enhance the Emirate’s depth of knowledge and innovation, and make Dubai a preferred platform for global businesses. It also seeks to promote environmentally friendly and energy-efficient manufacturing and make Dubai a center for the global Islamic products. DAFZA is committed to all these objectives and has developed state of the art facilities that suit the needs of regional and global businesses from a range of sectors. Our contribution to Dubai’s foreign trade reached 12% in the first nine months of 2019. The overall value of trade also reached AED120 billion, confirming the success of its plans to enhance its role in Dubai and to establish its presence amongst the free zones as one of the most developed, both nationally and globally. DAFZA also achieved a trade surplus of AED16.2 billion during the same period. The machinery and TV and electrical equipment section had the highest share of DAFZA’s trade with a contribution of 53.4%. It was the main source of trade growth for both imports and exports, growing by 13% through the first nine months of 2019. DAFZA supports companies in expanding their businesses in the region by providing unique services at a strategic location, near Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest. The free zone has developed an advanced and modern infrastructure, which allows it to provide best-in-class services and incentives for businesses. Many leading international companies have established their regional headquarters in the free zone, such as Aerogen, ASAHI YUKIZAI, Airbus, Panasonic, Boeing, GE, Red Bull, and Heinz. This asserts the quality investment facilities and services that contribute to the success of any company at the regional and global level.

How is DAFZA looking to expand upon opportunities in the halal space?
DAFZA is a pioneering supporter of public and private sector efforts to strengthen Dubai’s status as a global hub for foreign investment and Islamic economy and has played a major role in developing vital sectors in the emirate. This support was demonstrated by the free zone’s launch of a comprehensive guide titled ‘Dubai: The Global Gateway to Halal Industries,’ which aims to catalyze foreign investors to help in understanding the Islamic economy and highlight trade opportunities in key halal sectors, such as food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, which are estimated at USD1.369 trillion, USD92 billion, and USD64 billion respectively. The guide has been extremely well received by international markets and is currently available in five different languages. As a part of our continued efforts, the second version of the much-demanded guide is currently under production and will be released in early 2020. DAFZA and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) also launched the first of its kind, the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre (HTMC). This is a global business development center focused on halal economic opportunities for manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of halal products and services. It is hosted at DAFZA, but substantially supported by key partners across the halal ecosystem. This will be achieved by facilitating services in three key categories: market intelligence, halal compliance, and growth support services. The center aims to provide a platform to link halal-focused companies globally and support them in growing to the next level of their journey. It will also promote Dubai as a gateway for the global halal market, a business segment of more than 1.8 billion consumers, 57 OIC countries, and valued at more than USD2.2 trillion. As a result of numerous global interactions in 2019, many companies and institutions across the world are considering Dubai as the right place to set up their business for the halal market and work closely with the center, a key contributor to DIEDC’s mandate in activating halal trade flows through Dubai. Having said that, HTMC will aggressively pursue its goals and planned activities in 2020, onboarding key service partners and engaging local food, pharma, and cosmetic industry players in addition to its international target markets, enabling them to tap into the fast-growing global halal market opportunity.



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