Khalifa Economic Zones looks to attract UK companies

Kezad Group sets out stall to convince British firms to set up shop in Abu Dhabi's economic and free trade zones

Khalifa Port in KEZAD economic cities and free trade zones. Photo: AD Ports Group
Powered by automated translation

Kezad invited businesses in the UK to join the 1,750 companies already having operations within the economic and free trade zones in Abu Dhabi.

Kezad Group, a subsidiary of AD Ports Group, made the invitation at the Abu Dhabi Trade Forum in London, hosted by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) and ZonesCorp (specialised economic zones) were integrated into Kezad Group.

It comprises 12 economic zones with a total area of 550 square kilometres, including 100 square kilometres designated as free zones.

Sitting at the core of the UAE's industrial strategy, the Kezad Group aims to attract new companies that will help increase the size of the manufacturing sector, with a goal of topping Dh172 billion in value by 2031.

Access to markets

Mohamed Al Ahmed, chief executive of Kezad Group, said one of the greatest advantages for the UK businesses, or for that matter, any company to have operations in the Abu Dhabi trade zones is access to the trade corridors that flow not only within the GCC, but to Africa, Asia and beyond.

“The trade corridors are a leading reason for UK companies,” he said.

“Also, we are very strong in terms of our commercial offering, especially, in terms of infrastructure,” he said, adding that the economic cities and free zones within Kezad offer access by sea through the UAE's modern deep water seaport at Khalifa, which enables bulk importing and exporting.

Aside from the port access, Kezad is also well placed in terms of air freight. It has five airports, multi-lane express highways that connect the economic cities and free zones to other major commercial hubs in the UAE and across the GCC region, and the upcoming Etihad Rail Network.

“We have fast access to 3.5 billion people,” said Khalid Al Marzooqi, the vice president of international business development of the Kezad Group.

“What we have seen recently is Abu Dhabi becoming the place for companies to put their factories for global production,” he added.

As well as the logistical and infrastructure advantages, Mr Al Ahmed said Kezad's ecosystem is a major attractant.

Part of this means having companies in similar industries zoned in the same areas, which optimises supply chains. It also means that zones be dedicated to small and medium sized enterprises and business parks, which can help with logistics.

This is important when the 1,750 companies operate across a range of sectors, from pharmaceuticals and minerals to automotive and agricultural technology, life sciences and specialist chemicals.

“The ecosystem that we're creating is very unique and companies can utilise this and benefit big time from this,” he said.

“To have a successful free zone, you need to create an ecosystem.”

Low and No Taxes

Low and zero tax rates are also attractive to relocating companies.

Kezad's Free Zone allows 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies, no corporate, personal and sales tax and no minimum capital requirement.

Meanwhile, companies can also set up in the Domestic Economic Zone, thereby getting direct access to the markets in the UAE and the wider GCC area.

Goods produced in the DEZ, can be stamped “made in the UAE” and enjoy duty-free status across the GCC region.

Mr Al Marzooqi said Kezad can help companies select which zone would be best for them to be based in.

“We want to make sure they have ticked every box for the success of their business,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kezad itself has ambitions beyond the UAE.

“We want to be a global player in ports, economic zones, digital, maritime and logistics. We are in Jordan, we're in Egypt and we are in Sudan just recently,” said Mr Al Ahmed.

“We have a very strict valuation on where we want to be. We do a lot of research, we do a lot of due diligence, because in the end, you want to be in the right market in the right place.”

Updated: March 01, 2023, 4:19 PM