Jafza has achieved growth despite an economic slowdown

Jafza has achieved growth despite an economic slowdown

Top logistics hub’s trade reaches $83bn

From a small operation of just 19 companies into a thriving business community with over 7,500 companies, Jafza today generates nearly a quarter of all trade in Dubai

November 2018

Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), a subsidiary of Dubai-based ports operator DP World, has reaffirmed its position as the region’s top trade and logistics hub by generating 29.4 million metric tonnes of trade, valued at $83.1 billion in 2017.

The figures represent 23 per cent to the total value of trade in Dubai, 70 per cent of the value of all Dubai’s free zone trade combined and has increased 4 per cent year on year, DP World said in a statement.

The volume of trade amounts to 97 per cent of Dubai’s total free zone trade, 32 per cent of Dubai’s total trade and has seen a 6 per cent increase in trade year-on-year. The total traded volume is the highest since 2013, DP World added.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO, DP World, said: “This is a proud moment for Jafza as our free zone continues to lead Dubai’s trade sector maintaining its positions as a regional and global business and logistics hub of choice.

“Last year’s growth was achieved against the headwinds of an economic slowdown across the world. The sustained growth of Jafza since 2013 across diverse sectors demonstrates its ability to leverage key market dynamics to create growth opportunities for our customers.

Jafza: growing customer base

Jafza: growing customer base

“Most critically, it shows that the Dubai and the UAE’s economy continues to be healthy and flexible, capable of successfully weathering and adapting to the changing patterns of international trade and global economics.”

Over 77 per cent of Jafza’s total trade volume in 2017 was generated by three sectors – oil and gas; foodstuff, livestock and agricultural products and metal, steel and construction material.

Meanwhile, 76 per cent of the trade value was derived from five sectors – electronics and electricals, vehicle and transport, retail and general trading, oil and gas, and machinery and equipment.

Bin Sulayem added that Jafza’s top markets by region were the Middle East at 40 per cent, Asia at 31 per cent and Europe at 13 per cent. He said China remained Jafza’s largest trade partner, followed by Saudi Arabia, the US, Vietnam and India.



The freezone’s customer base grew nine per cent in 2017, with 513 new companies registering in the free zone. In 2016, 470 new companies registered.

Jafza One, Jafza’s flagship commercial properties, recorded a 42 per cent increase in its customer base, as well as a 20 per cent rise in occupancy and a 49 per cent rise in leased offices.

“Jafza has again proved its ability to attract businesses, retain them and act as a catalyst for growth,” said Bin Sulayem. “The dynamic model we have created through more than 33 years of experience reduces the cost for investors while enabling new opportunities for growth.”

The DP World CEO added that Jafza is “one of Dubai’s success stories” that has made it a global hub for business and commerce.

The 513 new companies brought Jafza’s total active customer base to more than 7,500 in 2017. Of these, 49 per cent come from the Middle East, followed by the Asia-Pacific region (28 per cent), Europe (15 per cent), Africa (5 per cent) and the Americas (3 per cent).

Companies in the electronics and electrical sector account for 16 per cent of Jafza-based companies, followed by machinery and equipment (13 per cent), foodstuffs, livestock and agricultural products, retail and general trading, and vehicle and transport companies, with 11 per cent each.

The remaining companies are from the metal, steel and construction sector (8 per cent), chemicals (7 per cent), healthcare and pharmaceuticals (5 per cent), logistics (4 per cent) and oil and gas (4 per cent).



Earlier, Jafza signed a co-operation agreement with the emirate’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to cut the time taken to process visas and related government transactions to 24 hours or less.

Under the agreement, the GDRFA will provide enhanced services to companies operating in Jafza and the National Industries Park, subsidiaries of Nasdaq Dubai-listed port operator DP World, via the newly established electronic link. The move is aimed at facilitating the more than 150,000 people working in over 7,500 Jafza-based companies, the free zone authority said.

Jafza: fostering alliances with global investors

Jafza: fostering alliances with global investors

“As home to tens of thousands of employees who need work and residence visas, Jafza constantly seeks to improve the support services required to help companies focus on their core business activities,” said  Sulayem, the group chairman and chief executive of DP World.

“The agreement represents a new phase of co-operation with the GDRFA and integrates business practices ... simplifying business processes results in increased efficiency and more productive companies and employees.”

The latest move follows sweeping reforms to the UAE’s visa and labour insurance legislation, announced by the Cabinet in June.

Of the latest visa system enhancements, Major General Mohamed Ahmed Al Marri, director general, GDRFA, said: “We aim to reinforce our partnership with Jafza to achieve the strategic vision of Dubai and to keep pace with the development of comprehensive and sustainable solutions. The signing is evidence of the confidence we have in Jafza for providing world-class services and competitive advantage.”



Jafza commenced operations in 1985 and today stands out as a leading business hub of the Middle East.  From a small operation of just 19 companies, the industrial hub has grown into a thriving business community with over 7,500 companies that continues to expand.

Today, Jafza is a dynamic base for thousands of businesses, from over 100 countries, sustaining over 150,000 jobs and attracting more than 20 per cent of the UAE’s foreign direct investment; all the while exceeding 50 per cent of Dubai’s total exports, with an phenomenal value for trade of $83 billion 9in 2017).

Jafza’s focus is on long term customer relationships, fostering alliances with global investors by providing them world class infrastructure supported with quality driven value-added services and incentives, enabling them to capitalise on huge business opportunities in the region. Jafza boasts of being the first free zone in the world to win ISO certification in 1996.

Jafza: a dynamic base for thousands of businesses

Jafza: a dynamic base for thousands of businesses

The new developments at the Jebel Ali Free Zone and the surrounding region are designed to make Jafza one of the most efficient sea-air hubs, completed with a six-lane highway that will help keep goods custom-bound (helping to minimise processing time) as they are transported from port to cargo aircraft in just 20 minutes. Jafza is the world’s only free zone located between one of the world’s largest airports and a sea port. The Zone has Jebel Ali Port, world’s seventh largest container port on one side and the Al Maktoum International Airport, one of the world’s largest cargo airports on the other side.

The industrial hub has been one of the main drivers of Dubai and the UAE’s phenomenal economic growth over the years. Jafza has successfully been attracting “crème de la crème” in all business sectors from all over the world by sheer force of its unique value-added offerings and propositions.



Meanwhile, the Rental Disputes Center (RDC) signed a MoU with DP World during Gitex Technology Week (Gitex) 2018, aimed at streamlining the rental disputes process in Jafza and other DP World properties.

The MoU was signed by Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of Dubai Land Department (DLD), and Sultan Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

Bin Mejren stressed that DLD and its departments are in close cooperation with DP World via multiple activities, many of which are related to the real estate sector.

The MoU is in line with the services DLD provide for companies and individuals to bolster the local economy and helps create the ideal work environment that supports a diverse economy.

“DP World is one of the key players that greatly contributes to diversifying income sources, supporting the Emirate’s economy, and spreading its trade mark internationally,” said Bin Mejren. “This MoU will help save its employees’ time in all real estate transactions, and preserve and benefit from its resources.”

“DP World’s collaboration with RDC will make life easier for business in Dubai and builds on Jebel Ali Freezone’s success in attracting more than 20 per cent of all foreign direct investment flows to the UAE,” he added. “The agreement will benefit our customers by creating a strong legal environment for companies in the country.”



Meanwhile US-based Fike Corporation, a supplier of precision-engineered products for fire and explosion protection, has strengthened its Middle East and North Africa (Mena) operations with the opening of a fully-fledged office in Dubai.

The new Fike Mena office in Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority will manufacture some of its life-saving and asset protection products to serve customers in the region.

Founded in 1945, Fike offers a range of solutions which include fire suppression, explosion and overpressure protection and pressure activation.

Ahmad Al Haddad, chief commercial officer, Jafza, opened the Fike Centre of Excellence in the presence of Brad Batz, president and CEO of Fike Corporation; David Kemp, executive vice-president, sales and marketing, Fike Corporation; Ihab Farag, managing director, Fike Mena. Fike’s new Jazfa office has a full sales and technical support team.

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