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HE Mohamed Hasan Al Qemzi

UAE, ABU DHABI - Industry

Proper Mechanisms

CEO, ZonesCorp

Bio

HE Mohamed Hasan Al Qemzi is the CEO of ZonesCorp, and was previously Senior Vice-President of Abu Dhabi Polymers Park at Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (ADBIC). Other roles have included being responsible for sales and planning in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Asian Subcontinent at Borouge in Singapore. He was then made Purchasing Manager and opened branches in New Zealand, Australia, China, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. He has a degree in Construction Engineering Management from California State University.

"We have developed three cities in Abu Dhabi and two other cities in Al Ain."

What are the factors that render credibility to Abu Dhabi as an international business hub?

When it established its 2030 Vision, Abu Dhabi produced a clear strategy with transparent targets and a road map of where the Emirate is heading. It is an Emirate that is working in the best interests of its people, in line with the vision of our leaders. The results of this plan on Abu Dhabi’s progress are undeniable, and notable achievements are made every year, with more yet to come. Abu Dhabi’s strategy has enabled it to earn a high level of trust with investors globally. Moving forward steadily, the Emirate is witnessing constant economic growth. Our leaders are committed to achieving the goals set out by the 2030 vision, and we are all working together to ensure that we have all the requirements to move forward with this plan. Abu Dhabi’s economy forms a significant portion of the UAE’s GDP. The Emirate is focused on strengthening its different sectors, and on diversifying its sources of income. All initiatives that are implemented by different organizations and authorities are meant to aid it in achieving this goal.

How would you evaluate the growth of the industrial sector and what has been the contribution of ZonesCorp?

Since its inception almost nine years ago in 2004, ZonesCorp has been through several phases. We have developed three cities in Abu Dhabi and two other cities in Al Ain. We have made great achievements over the years. In addition to being ranked as one of the top-five government entities, we have targeted many of the gaps relating to the industrial sector market and enhanced the ease of doing business for this field. Previously, the process of applying to obtain a plot of land could take up to one year, and we reduced the time to just 50 days in 2012. In the past two years, we have registered notable growth in our land leasing activities, which had a positive impact on the growth of Abu Dhabi’s industrial sector. We have also cleared our land bank. I am proud to say that ZonesCorp has the largest industrial zone in the UAE, with the highest standards of infrastructure, systems, and a very transparent approach. In the 2030 strategy, one of the key pillars is the industrial sector—whether upstream, midstream, or downstream. The industrial sector is one component of the bigger package that Abu Dhabi’s government is working on, ranging from education to health and finance. All of these components are combined to achieve a larger goal; we are a small, but significant part of the larger picture.

“We have developed three cities in Abu Dhabi and two other cities in Al Ain.”

What areas do you see as being ripe for foreign investment?

The government of Abu Dhabi has published its strategy for industry, and there are key elements global and local investors should consider. There are opportunities in the oil and gas, petrochemicals, metals, steel, aluminum, and construction sectors. These already exist and can be built upon. In terms of industry, when you choose Abu Dhabi, the aim is not limited to the local market—it is also exporting toward India, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Many Indian investors come to Abu Dhabi to target the local market and the region, but their main aim is Europe. The UAE has signed MoUs with many other nations to facilitate trade flows and business set ups. Investors see the UAE and Abu Dhabi as a base for their way forward into the international markets. They see the infrastructure, services, support, and guidance provided as an asset to their growth plans and strategies.

What opportunities are there for ZonesCorp to engage with higher education institutions to foster entrepreneurial behavior within Emirati nationals?

We will do whatever is needed to spread awareness. We have to educate our future generation on the importance of industry. Every large and developed country that is a leader in the industrial sector is built based on SMEs—Germany, Italy, and France, to name a few. Our people—the young future of the Emirate—need to emulate this. The most important factor is to foster confidence so that, once an investment is made in an SME, we are capable of taking it forward.

How would you evaluate the financial environment for industrial projects, and what can be done to improve the situation?

The UAE’s banking and financial sector show very healthy rates of growth. It would be great if the financial and industrial sectors can enhance partnership efforts to promote growth for Abu Dhabi’s economy. In the industrial sector, projects generally represent a long-term investment. It is important that the methodology for allocating industrial funds by banks is not the same as the one used for commercial activities. Industrial projects may be categorized as high-risk investments, but a proper mechanism has to be created for them by banks, and the right people that understand the industrial side must be involved in the process. There need to be proper mechanisms for an SME to apply for a loan and demonstrate what is required with a solid feasibility study. This is crucial for banks, and to maintain transparency. It also enhances the ease of doing business, and the efficiency of planning for industrial projects.

© The Business Year – August 2013

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