On the Drew International Seminar in the UAE, I discovered that in Dubai there are many free zones that cater to various business sectors: Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Jebel Ali Free Zone Area (JAFZA), among others. As I listened to the presentation at Economics Zone World, a government-holding company that manages JAFZA, I was fascinated by how important a role JAFZA plays in Dubai’s economy. JAFZA has created over 140,000 jobs and contributes 26 percent to Dubai’s GDP. Companies use JAFZA for warehousing and manufacturing, and then take advantage of the Jebel Ali Port, the Dubai International Airport and the forthcoming Al Maktoum International Airport. JAFZA is also appealing to foreign companies because of business-friendly incentives such as 100 percent ownership (the requirement to have an Emirati partner is waived) and the absence of a corporate tax.
But free zones are not as common in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is more focused on the energy sector. Our class visit to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation showed me that Abu Dhabi believes that nuclear energy will play a significant role in its overall economy in the future.
It’s very interesting to see these two very different economic strategies. I believe that JAFZA will continue to contribute significantly to Dubai’s economy and further developments in Dubai’s logistics will improve its role in world trade. And Abu Dhabi’s nuclear energy plans will also be important to watch.—Edward Wang C’11