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‘World Free Zone Expo’ in Abu Dhabi to highlight the role of free zones in economic growth


The ‘World Free Zone Expo (WFZE) Pavilion,’ a first-of-its-kind specialized event to be held in Abu Dhabi, will bring together free zones under one roof to engage with onshore and offshore companies and business start-ups to facilitate future strategic partnerships and collaborations and highlight promising investment opportunities. The Expo forms part of a series of collocated interactive networking events to be held in connection with the 11th edition of ‘International Real Estate and Investment Show (IREIS),’ which will run from October 30, 2019 to November 1, 2019 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Free zones offer many benefits and exemptions to companies and businesses that choose to operate out of them. For instance, benefits of setting up a company in a free zone in the UAE include 100 per cent import and export tax exemptions; 100 per cent repatriation of capital and profits; exemption from corporate tax, personal income tax; relatively simpler start-up and licensing procedures; and minimum paperwork, among many others.

The UAE is currently home to more than 45 free zones, spread across the seven emirates. Several factors help pick up the demand and popularity of free zones over the short-term to medium-term among both existing and new market entrants, which can be attributed to the easing of regulations, initiatives for foreign direct investments (FDI), freezing of government fees, economic stimulus packages such as ‘Ghadan 21’, introduction of dual-licensing schemes in free zones, and key support strategies for start-ups.

A research conducted by IREIS has revealed that investments in the UAE free zones are likely to go up by 15 per cent by the end of 2020, thanks to key events and activities such as the EXPO 2020 that are set to take place in the country.  In view of this anticipated growth, the first ‘World Free Zone Expo’ is poised to become an effective platform to bring about the many advantages and opportunities within free zones not only in the UAE, but from around the world.

Building on the previous editions’ success, IREIS 2019 – organized by ‘Dome Exhibitions’ – will showcase a wide array of property developments alongside numerous attractive investment options and consultation and financing opportunities presented by regional and international real estate investors, brokers, and developers from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia Pacific. IREIS, the specialized real estate event in Abu Dhabi targets investors and consumers rather than trade visitors, provides consumers from around the world with ideal investment options and leading insights into current market trends. The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities are among the key supporters of IREIS 2019.

Antoine Georges, Managing Director, Dome Exhibitions, said: “The role played by the UAE’s free zones in attracting foreign investments to the country and boosting the national economy is huge. Acknowledging this, some emirates have introduced tailored licenses and other incentives for companies operating in these zones. One of the most notable examples is the dual licence in Abu Dhabi that allows free zone companies to have access to onshore project tenders without an additional onshore office or premise. Besides, it allows partners to conduct commercial activities freely with Abu Dhabi government entities. It also grants free zone businesses the freedom to expand their operations outside of their free zones without a local partner.”

“Undoubtedly, free zones enhance trade by attracting substantial investments to create world-class facilities and thus contribute to a country’s economic growth. Furthermore, they demonstrate strong performance despite shifts in market conditions and regardless of international and external business climates and hold the potential to become key catalysts that facilitate international businesses. Against this backdrop, the ‘World Free Zone Expo’ – the first of its kind platform to be held in Abu Dhabi – will serve as an ideal venue for free zones to engage with onshore and offshore companies and business start-ups to jointly explore future strategic collaborations and cooperation.”

Apart from the ‘World Free Zone Expo,’ IREIS 2019 will also host a series of top-notch interactive networking events such as the ‘International Investment Conference 2019;’ the ‘International Residency and Citizenship Expo’ in addition to the ‘Start-up Pavilion’ and the ‘Innovation Hub Awards 2019’.

The ‘International Investment Conference 2019’ will see leading global experts, renowned academics, industry practitioners, government entities, and official agencies come together to discuss current investment trends and potential opportunities before a highly discerning audience. Besides, the forum will focus on attracting FDI through initiatives designed to produce tangible outcomes and achieve higher investment inflows.

A new segment themed ‘Start-up Pavilion’ aims to bring budding entrepreneurs together with private and public entities to collaborate and succeed, all in one place. Start-up entrepreneurs will be able to showcase their ventures, meet investors, engage with government organizations, attend knowledge sessions, receive one-on-one mentoring, network with business experts, participate in pitch contest, and pursue partnership opportunities and potential customers.

Another major highlight of IREIS 2019 will be the ‘International Residency and Citizenship Expo,’ which will provide visitors to IREIS with a lowdown on dual citizenship and visa-travel opportunities that are available for major destination countries across the globe.

Under the theme ‘Creating Innovative Sustainable Environment in Investments,’ the ‘Innovation Hub Awards 2019’ will target students and professionals with an aim to highlight innovative ideas across four categories– environment, sustainable future, automation and investments. For more information about the awards and registration, please visit http://startup-expo.org/IHawards/.

The latest edition of IREIS will feature more than 70 exhibitors from over 20 countries, who will showcase 300 projects before an expected 5000 strong audience comprising local, regional and global visitors. By offering visitors a snapshot of the international property market as a whole, the show will assist customers in their investment plans, allowing them to explore new and emerging opportunities, regionally and globally.


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