What role have special economic zones played in the growth and development of the UAE?
AL QAMZI: The role that ZonesCorp has played since its inception in 2004, especially in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, is that it has been one of the big players in special economic zones tailored for the industrial sector. In the past years, the development of the industrial sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi has increased, from 10 sq. km. in ICAD I, to where we stand today at 39 sq. km. of industrial economic zones in Abu Dhabi and in Al Ain. There are many sectors in industry that we cover in those industrial areas. With regard to the contribution to GDP, the figures that we had last year indicate that around AED 10bn ($2.7bn) was generated by the industrial sector for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The incentives that ZonesCorp provides include a ready-made infrastructure built to the highest possible standards, very transparent terms with regard to services, and the smoothness of creating the investment within Abu Dhabi. The process of obtaining industrial land and a license has become very smooth. Over the years we have learned from our mistakes. We have been able to build a one-stop-shop tailored for investors, which receives them and gives them the proper direction with regard to obtaining industrial land. We do not have any preference today for who we want to come. We target the private sector because that is the actual force behind the development of the industrial sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Department of Economic Development is the delivery vehicle of the industrial strategy. Therefore, once this is established, it will help the private sector to attract or to know exactly what the government of Abu Dhabi’s direction is with regard to developing industry within the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE.
What kinds of companies would you like to bring to Abu Dhabi?
With regard to the contribution to GDP, the figures that we had last year indicate that around AED 10bn ($2.7bn) was generated by the industrial sector for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
AL QAMZI: Today, we are looking to have a high-end industrial sector that is heavy in investment and less focused on labor. We need to bring knowledge and know-how because we are not only focused on creating investment; we want to have sustainable growth in industry based on a very strong platform founded on knowledge transfer. At the end of the day, we want to see our industries grow in Abu Dhabi to serve markets locally, regionally, and internationally as well. In any industrial zone, the most important element to attract investors is the availability of infrastructure, which we have; the availability of services, which we have; transparency, which we have; the availability of utilities and gas, which we have; and the most important thing is feedstock. We have raw materials from petrochemicals, which today are produced for example by Brugg and in the future hopefully ChemaWEyaat (Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company) and other players. For metal we have Emal, through which we have the availability of feedstock of aluminum, and we have Emirates Steel, so we have steel as well. I believe those 4 elements will be the driving force of bringing industry to Abu Dhabi.