In keeping stride with the UAE’s vision for sustainable economic development and decreased reliance on oil & gas industries, the Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone (UAQ FTZ) has picked up steam over the past year. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Rashid Al Mu’alla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Quwain, the free zone has undergone a complete infrastructure makeover – both physically and digitally.
With the infrastructure master plan already complete for phase 2 of the industrial area, which will house offices, labor accommodations, warehouses and residential complexes, UAQ FTZ looks to build a smart city where people will able to ‘walk to work’. “Renewable energy, education, health, technology, water and space will be the primary target industries for us”, says Johnson M. George, General Manager of UAQ FTZ.
Once phase 2 comes to fruition, the free zone will function as an independent industrial city with amenities for its employees and residents like a hospital, shopping center centers, a school, a hotel and even an exhibition & convention center, thereby promoting the ‘walk to work’ concept. The current ERP/CRM system of UAQ FTZ will become centralized to help its clients record sales, leads, account statements and other business activities. Plans are also in place for a revamp of the website to facilitate online submission of company formation documents and automated issuing of licenses. The security mainframe and its peripherals have been set up to meet UAE’s high standards of safety.
UAQ FTZ has enjoyed a success-brimmed 2016, having already issued over 1500 business licenses and taking the overall count 2500-plus. Johnson says, “This has been possible because of the Foreign Direct Investment from countries like India, UK, France and from the other Asian subcontinent.” As a marketing pathway, UAQ FTZ has welcomed manufacturing industries, IT companies and specialized consultancies, FMCGs, foodstuff-related companies, gem, precious metals, jewelry and automotive spare parts sellers as major players in the free zone. It has also participated in marketing exhibitions in the BRICS countries, which is sure to attract more foreign investment in UAQ’s rumbling economy.
“The proximity to ports and UAQ’s super-reasonable costs of living and of doing business are sure to bring in more numbers in the coming years”, adds Johnson. Going forward, the free zone is looking to usher in white collar businesses like IT companies, back offices, call centers, R&D centers, etc. Freelancers and micro-businesses have also found firm footing in UAQ, thanks to the free zone’s offering of these licenses. With a growing number of investors using UAQ FTZ as a catalyst to expand their business, there is no doubt that the free zone is on an upward trend and will contribute more to UAE’s healthy economy.