x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Free zone leases 'by end of year'

Fujairah in talks with global companies for space in latest phase

Fujairah hopes to lease about 30 new plots of land in the latest phase of its free-zone development by the end of this year as it steps up plans to become an industrial heartland. The emirate's free-zone authority is talking with a number of international manufacturing and processing companies about setting up factories and warehouses in the third phase of its development.

"We are focusing on projects within manufacturing that are long-term, sustainable and that add value to the economy," said Sharief al Awadhi, the director general of Fujairah Free Zone. "Such companies can activate infrastructure in Fujairah and help to attract further companies within similar sectors." The Government has allocated almost 28 hectares of land in the Al Hayl area on the outskirts of Fujairah for the latest phase of its free-zone development. Four companies are already operating there, with more expected to start up next year.

About 1,700 companies already operate within the first two phases of the free zone, mainly in trade, logistics, maritime and the oil and gas sectors. Private companies have invested Dh4 billion (US$1.08bn) in the free zone, on top of about Dh250 million of government cash to build the infrastructure. Fujairah has few oil and gas reserves, so industrial expansion has been targeted by the emirate as a way of developing its economy.

Industry has relied on oil trade and other marine services that take advantage of Fujairah's location outside the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping route between the Middle East and international waters. Officials hope a new federal motorway between Fujairah and Dubai will benefit the industrial sector by reducing journey times between the emirates by 45 minutes. Next year, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing is expected to complete the Dh1.5bn, 77km, six-lane motorway that cuts directly through the Hajar Mountains, shortening the current 135km route.

Fujairah has already invested heavily in improving its transport links with a deepwater port located near to the first phase of the free zone, used for oil and gas and container trade. Its international airport is mainly used for cargo, mostly in export and re-export operations. tarnold@thenational.ae