Dubai – MENA Herald: In his capacity as Chairman of Dubai Free Zone (DFZ) Council, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Emirates Group, chaired the first council meeting.

The meeting follows directives Nos. 23 and 30 of 2015 issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, mandating the formation of the Dubai Free Zone Council under the chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

During the meeting held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, the members reviewed the overall objectives of the council and formed a committee to study the strategic direction of the board and determine the financial and human resources, as well as the organizational structure. Additionally, members adopted the statute of the council, determined Dubai Silicon Oasis as the location for its headquarters, and agreed to convene the next meeting in February.

The meeting witnessed the attendance of Dr Mohammed Alzarooni, Secretary General of the DFZ Council, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Ahmad Abdullah Bin Byat, Director General of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, Khalifa Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation, Ibrahim Mohammed Bu Melha, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at International Humanitarian City, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, Mohammed Dhaen Al Qamzi, Director of the State Security Department in Dubai, and Helal Saeed Salem Almarri, Director General of Dubai World Trade Centre.

Dubai is considered to be the first emirate as a leading model in the setup of free zones, due to the attractive privileges it provides and the return on investments for foreign companies, including the opportunity of 100 percent ownership without imposing any taxes.

There are currently 22 operational free zones that have been established for specific sectors and industries including information and communication technology, media, finance, jewellery and healthcare.

Free zones are main contributors to Dubai’s economy. The first free zone, Jebel Ali Free Zone, opened in 1985 providing a free trade environment and customs exemption on export and import to encourage companies to establish their business here and boost trade.

With the end of this year, free zone trade is expected to keep rising, reaching AED515 billion and operating 20,000 companies within the free zones in Dubai representing around 50 percent of the total foreign direct investment in the emirate. Additionally, the various companies operating out of the free zones provide 200,000 jobs and contribute approximately 25 percent of Dubai’s GDP, which is equivalent to AED100 billion.