by Sampurna Majumder

Rapid globalization in the last one decade has significantly exposed global economies to a more competitive market. New global trading rules and regulations have been introduced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that presents both opportunities and challenges.

In pursuit of this, a variety of trade instruments were launched and Free Trade Zone (FTZ) is one of them. These vary according to the national characteristics and motives set by the nation.

Needless to say that the booming economy of the UAE has witnessed launching of FTZs in the country and they have definitely been successful. With foreign investment in the region increasing to a great extent, the share of FTZs has increased considerably thus attracting numerous investment opportunities.

Such efforts have increased the number of job opportunities in UAE. FTZs within also offer certain incentives to investors and include the following:

100% foreign ownership Full repatriation of capital and profits

100% tax exemption Extended leases

Ouick approval processes Abundant and inexpensive energy

Let’s explore one such leading free zone within the UAE

Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF –Zone)

The Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF –Zone) is an example of the UAE government’s commitment to encourage free trade. Situated right beside Sharjah International Airport, this FTZ is one of the leading business hubs of the region. It goes without saying that SAIF-Zone is the nerve center for business activities and provides vital benefits for several business establishments.

Features and Benefits

Founded in 1995, with only 55 companies, today, almost two decades down the line the areas has more than 2160 companies from 91 countries operating from it. Moreover, the area covers some of the biggest brand names from the fields of trading, manufacturing, media and IT services. SAIF Zone offers excellent global land, sea and air transport links that has access to a market of more than 1.4 billion consumers. The zone is further enhanced by its secondary seaport facility that is located in the Gulf of Oman at Port Khorfakkan. Some of the features of SAIF Zone are explained below:

¸ SAIF Zone is the only Emirate sea port on the West and East Coasts

¸ It is also the world’s first Airport Free Zone certified by ISO

¸ The ports of Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean are easily accessible

¸ Lease period till 25 years

Since the region has been exclusively designed to encourage foreign investments, the zone offers the following benefits for investors:

¸ 100% ownership to foreign investors

¸ 100% repatriation of capital and profits

¸ 100% export and import tax exemption

¸ 100% exemption from personal and corporate income taxes

¸ 25 year extendable lease along with sponsorship and visas for all stuff

Business Opportunities within FTZs

Very recently, the region was in news because of its potential to improve the business environment and practices. The region hosted its first investor meet very recently that gave it a further boost in the business hub. Companies and businesses operating in the free zone were invited. The meet turned out to be a good platform to discuss issues currently they are facing and also ensure some future growth. Shaikh Khalid Bin Abdullah, Chairman of the SAIF Zone presided over the meeting. While the SAIF Zone is expected to boost the overall economy of UAE, it is definitely a good news for investors those who are looking forward to investment options in the region.

Indeed the concept of Free Trade Zone is so powerful that several other countries have begun recognizing and encouraging the overall concept of Free Trade Zone. It is estimated that more than 120 countries in the world today has begun the new business model of Trade Free Zones. These have been an extraordinary mechanism that can foster business worldwide.

With the Middle Eastern economy witnessing substantial growth in the recent past, the Free Trade Zones are expected to attract more business opportunities. Apart from the dominant oil and gas industry, other sectors like IT, Hospitality, Travel and Tourism have also been attracting investors and job seekers. The banking and financial has also recorded a boost. Following the current success of Free Trade Zones, it can be contemplated that business opportunities are abounding in the UAE.

Sampurna Majumder is a professional writer who enjoys creativity and challenges. Barely a year into new media, she has written several posts, articles and blogs for prominent websites where one can find all kinds of information pertaining to the world of employment in the Middle East

Posted : June 03 2014