Dubai Airport Free Zone reports jump in number of new companies

A quarter of trade generated through Dafza in the first nine months of 2020 was with Chinese entities

The Dubai Airport Free Zone is now home to 1,800 companies. Image courtesy of Dafza
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The Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority said it experienced a 64 per cent increase in companies registered with it in the first nine months of last year.

The free zone generated Dh87.4 billion of trade, or 10 per cent of the emirate's total, during the period.

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus, Dubai "maintained its role and position as a global economic and trade hub", Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dafza chairman, said in a statement on Sunday.

“The results achieved by Dafza and its business community during 2020, the investors’ confidence and other various indicators give a positive outlook on the short and long term for economic recovery in the country," Sheikh Ahmed added.

Supply chains across the Middle East and Africa were upended last year as a result of the pandemic, with 96 per cent of companies in the region stating in a survey by ports operator DP World last week they were reconfiguring their supply chains.

Dafza's position next to Dubai International Airport allowed it to grow its customer base and increase sales by 7.6 per cent, the authority said without giving a revenue figure.

The free zone is now home to 1,800 companies including Airbus, Boeing, Panasonic, Richemont and Toyota.

"This year, we will also continue to enhance incentives to attract new companies, especially small and medium-sized companies," Dafza's director general Mohammed Al Zarooni said. It is looking to diversify its tenant mix in terms of sectors, targeting more technology, logistics, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals businesses, Mr Al Zarooni added.

The bulk (75.8 per cent) of exports and re-exports from the free zone during the period was made up of machinery, TVs and electronic equipment, Dafza said. Pearls, semi/precious stones and metals made up a further 17.1 per cent.

A quarter of the trade generated from Dafza was with Chinese entities, making the world's second-biggest economy its top trade partner. About 10 per cent, or Dh9bn, was generated through Iraqi partners and 8 per cent with companies from India.