What new initiatives are you working on?

BELHOUL: Dubai Industrial City has undertaken a number of initiatives in the last two years by attracting new customers. We have a major player in each cluster. For example, BSF, Mirai in the food and beverage cluster. 

What types of industry are you looking to attract to Dubai Industrial City? At present, how many companies have located here and how much space is left?

BELHOUL: The industries that we have been most successful in attracting in recent years have been in F&B, chemical, as well as base metal because it is related to construction. F&B has seen the most activity in the last few years followed by chemical. In Dubai Industrial City we have almost 150 companies that are operational. We have 10,000 laborers accommodated within the city, and we have 3m units of warehouse space in Warehouse 1 fully leased out, and we have almost 4m in Warehouse 2, which was recently launched in the 3rd quarter of 2011. In terms of competition, we can see there is a huge amount of competition between the major players in the local market. The growth of non-oil industry has now come to contribute 13% of the GDP of the UAE. In the last 2 years, the growth was from 8% to 11% specifically in terms of industrial activity. In the GCC, we see Saudi Arabia as one of the major players in the region in this regard. Similarly, Bahrain and Oman are industrial players, however, Saudi Arabia has the hydrocarbon reserves, population, and chemical activities already in place. So we see Saudi Arabia as a major competitor.

At present, how much does industry contribute to the Dubai’s GDP?

BELHOUL: The contribution of total industrial activity in Dubai to GDP is almost 8%. This is because Dubai began to focus on non-oil activities a long time back and supported different industrial activities.

What are the main challenges to industry in the UAE today?

BELHOUL: The main challenge for industry today is understanding the financial sector of this business. Without the support of the financial sector, you cannot build a factory, or import a machine, or finance a project. Recently, in the past 6 to 9 months, we noticed the financial sector started to understand the requirements of the local market and they started to focus more on industrial real estate projects rather than commercial or residential. There was a recent initiative from the government to create Emirates Industrial Bank, which focuses on financing big industrial projects to attract major FDI and the major players in industry.

How will the Etihad Rail project impact the UAE’s industrial capabilities?

BELHOUL: Etihad Railway will bring a lot of synergy between the existing industrial parks across the UAE and across the region. It is one of the safest and most efficient modes of transportation. Etihad Railway will add a lot of synergy between these industrial parks and will overcome the challenges of land transportation that we are facing today. This will also provide excellent connectivity between the different sea ports such as Fujairah, Jebal Ali, Abu Dhabi Ports, as well as with the international airports available such as Al Maktoum International Airport, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai Airport.

What makes Dubai Industrial City (DI) more appealing than other industrial zones in the UAE? What incentives does DI offer?

BELHOUL: The major incentive Dubai Industrial City provides is its geographical location which links Jebal Ali port with Al Maktoum Airport. As well it provides great connectivity to the GCC road network, to the eastern emirates and the western emirates. For example, a container can be brought in within 25 minutes from Jebal Ali and ship through the air within 30 minutes. This is a major incentive Dubai Industrial City can provide. Beside that, we provide full industrial real estate solutions all under one roof. For example, if you need industrial land, or would like to use a labor camp, or a warehouse, or office space, or require training for your employees, we can provide all of these things from one place. In addition, we can provide support through our government entity, which will support you from the establishment stage through the operational stage.

What role does industry plan in Dubai’s overall economic vision?

BELHOUL: Dubai’s economic vision focuses on several sectors such as financial services and industry. I believe industry is a major player in terms of Dubai’s economic vision since Dubai has shifted from non-oil related activity to the service sector. Now industry is a major contributor to the GDP of Dubai.