An Ultimate Guide to the Bustling Economic Free Zones Within Dubai
By Muhammed Aladdin
News broke out a few days ago that Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai, has approved a new plan to create economic and creative free zones in public and private universities. The endeavor aims to help students carry out creative and business activities as a part of higher education.
These newly-established free zones will support students with funding and research. The Crown Prince believes that this revolutionary step would be of assistance to students in realizing their dreams of becoming young, successful entrepreneurs.
Indeed, it is a revolutionary idea that would further develop Dubai along with its youth, which made us wonder about the different economic free zones in Dubai, and how these as well help Dubai in being the economic powerhouse it is. So without further delay, here is a list of Dubai’s economic free zones and their importance for the UAE as a whole.
Dubai Airport Free Zone
Located in the vicinity of Dubai’s International Airport, the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) is an economic hub that provides a wide array of products to both investors and consumers. It is home to more than 1,600 companies from across the corners of the earth.
With lax taxation and trade laws, DAFZA has been a catalyst of Dubai’s economy, and subsequently the UAE. It has attracted foreign investment, created jobs, and strengthened the consuming power. From electronics and aviation to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, almost all can be found there.
Dubai Design District
D3, or Dubai Design District, is a haven for the fashion movement in Dubai. The economic free zone is filled to the brim with designers, fashion entrepreneurs, clothing startups, in addition to a number of well-established, international luxury and fashion brands.
With a 1.8 kilometer waterfront, D3 district includes leisure facilities, as well as a number of food and beverage establishments. The district is located near Mohammed bin Rashed City, just off Dubai’s Business Bay.
The Silicon Valley of the UAE, Dubai’s Internet City (DIC) is an information technology hub that offers a strategic center for regional and international fintech companies targeting emerging markets. DIC offers companies a fifty-year period of loose economic laws related to taxation, ownership, and customs benefits.
Many global giants of technology have come to DIC including Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. The area is home to 1,400 tech companies with more than 10,000 workers. The district is located in the vicinity of Dubai Knowledge Village.
Dubai International Financial Center
Established in 2004, the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) is one of the leading financial hubs of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. With its own set of distinctive economic laws, DIFC has attracted thousands of financial institutions, mainly wealth funds and private investors.
Furthermore, the district is home to cafés, restaurants, residential space, public green spaces, hotels, and art galleries.
Dubai Knowledge Village is an educational economic free zone campus within the city of Dubai. The district is home to a number of facilities that provides human resources management training, corporate guides, and other educational services.
Ever since its establishment in 2003, it has become a haven for more than 400 companies and institutions of full foreign ownership. The village is also home to a number of universities such as Michigan State University and Wollongong University.
Formerly known as Dubai World Central, Dubai South is a 145-square kilometer city merging residential, as well as commercial, properties. Upon completion, the region will be home to Dubai’s second international airport, Al-Maktoum International Airport, which is slated to become the world’s largest of its kind. In addition, Dubai South is set to host The World Expo 2020 site.
Dubai South is set to be the defining urban project for the emirate in the next few years. The government has made sure a watered-down version of Dubai’s economic laws be introduced in the district to attract international investment.
Jebel Ali Free Zone
Located in the far western end of Dubai, Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is one of the oldest free trade zones in all of the United Arab Emirates, commencing operations in 1985. The district has been established under the guise of a royal mandate, with ready-built facilities to house a wide array of companies.
In 1990, JAFZA expanded from a free trade zone to a light industrial region, making it the world’s largest economic free zone. More than 7,000 regional and overseas companies are situated in Jebel Ali Free Zone with 100 of the Fortune 500 companies taking the lead.
The area accounts for 32% of the country’s foreign direct investment with 21% of Dubai’s GDP. It is also home to approximately 144,000 employees.
Dubai Silicon Oasis
Wholly-owned by the government of Dubai, the Silicon Oasis (DSOA) is a free zone authority that spans 7.2 square kilometers. With its establishment in 2004, the DSOA has attracted a number of high tech companies that operate in a myriad of fields including telecommunication, optic fibers technology, and renewable energy.
With investments in infrastructure catering to its inhabitants, the technology park is an integrated living and working community with an estimated population of 162,400 individuals.
Built in the early 2000s, The Dubai Media City was a governmental establishment to boost the UAE’s media foothold. Since its completion, it has become the country’s main media hub including news outlets, advertising companies, production firms, and broadcast facilities.
Over the years, the renown of Dubai Media City, transforming it into a haven for media industry across the Middle East. It is home to 1,300 multimedia companies that serve the entire region. The government has made sure to introduce less economic restrictions within the region such as zero taxation policies, which has been a major factor behind the city’s rapid growth.