Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

Dubai Free Zones Council to unveil unified business portal for investors

The council discussed plans to set up a free zone dedicated to electronic gaming companies

The Jebel Ali Free Zone, the emirate's largest, is one of a number to offer discounts and fee waivers to support companies affected by the coronavirus. Pawan Singh / The National
The Jebel Ali Free Zone, the emirate's largest, is one of a number to offer discounts and fee waivers to support companies affected by the coronavirus. Pawan Singh / The National

The Dubai Free Zones Council plans to launch a single portal for all special investment zones in Dubai as part of plans to speed up the emirate’s economic recovery.

The combined business portal will help investors to make informed decisions about choosing the free zone that suits them best, the council said yesterday.

The council also considered setting up a unified record for free zone licences, where companies operating within free zones will be allocated a unique code.

“This step would streamline [the] availability of information on free zone-registered companies, as well as facilitate the movement of companies among Dubai’s free zones,” the council said.

The council considered an extension to stimulus measures announced after Dubai’s Dh1.5 billion recovery plan was unveiled in March, to support business communities in free zones.

Each free zone has tabled measures to help tenants, including fee instalments, security deposit and guarantee refunds and the cancellation of fines to help preserve the liquidity of companies operating in the free zones.

The government of Dubai yesterday announced Dh1.5bn worth of economic measures for non-free zone companies in the emirate, raising the total value of stimulus packages so far to Dh6.3bn.

“The post-coronavirus action plan for free zones supports their existing efforts to enhance their position in supporting the national economy," said the council's chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed.

"It also complements the development of a comprehensive geoeconomic map for Dubai."

Increased co-operation among all of Dubai’s free zones would help the emirate “to build a favourable economic framework” serving strategic sectors and positioning it “as a preferred destination for foreign investment”, he said.

The council also discussed plans to set up a free zone dedicated exclusively to electronic gaming companies to attract further investment into the emirate.

Work in bringing this forward will involve putting in place “priorities that would support investment and position Dubai as a regional hub” for the sector, the council said.

The electronic games industry has thrived during the pandemic, with Microsoft’s Game Pass service subscriptions exceeding 10 million in April after movement restrictions were put in place around the world.

The company also reported a 130 per cent increase in multiplayer engagement in March and April.

Dubai’s free zones form a significant part of economic activity in the emirate, with 44,985 registered companies that support 389,336 jobs. Revenue from these zones makes up 33 per cent of the emirate’s gross domestic product.

The council said it also reviewed measures taken by free zones and their companies to comply with global requirements on tax evasion and money laundering.

Updated: July 12, 2020 02:15 AM

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