ZonesCorp, the largest developer and operator of purpose-built industrial zones in the UAE, said that in a bid to give the struggling small and medium-sized industry a shot in the arm it was building prefabricated warehouses that will be leased out to them at competitive rates.
The industrial zone operator will put up 261 prefabricated, ready-to-use units covering 300,000 square metres in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi. Of the total, 80 per cent of the units have been set aside for warehousing and 20 per cent for light industrial units, said Saif Ali Aziez Al Sheraifi, the project manager at ZonesCorp.
The company did not disclose how much the whole project was worth but that it would spend Dh90 million on the first phase, Mr Al Sheraifi said that leasing costs would be competitive.
“This project is designed to facilitate the growth of SMEs and to meet the growing demand for high quality flexible warehousing,” said Saaed Eisa Al Khyeli, the director general of ZonesCorp.
“We firmly believe that a flourishing SME sector is the cornerstone of any thriving economy and the UAE is no different. The project is also firmly in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision to build a sustainable and diversified, high value-added economy.”
The average size of the units will be 500 square metres but units up to 1,500 sq metres will be available.
SMEs make up 90 per cent of registered companies in the country and authorities have been banking on small businesses to bolster economic growth at a time when the hydrocarbon industry is in the doldrums because of low oil prices.
The SME segment has not been untouched by the resultant economic fallout – many small business owners skipped town at the height of the drop in oil prices in 2015, leaving what was estimated to be Dh5 billion in unpaid debts.
That has made lenders more reluctant to stump up fresh cash, making life increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs. In turn that has limited the amount of money these cash-strapped businesses have to spend on things such as warehouses.
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