Free Trade Zones

Gulfood 2022: For industrial hubs and free zones in the UAE, the food sector is more than a need

Dubai: Free zones and industrial hubs in the UAE are giving the food sector the highest priority – and the results are starting to show.

The industrial city of Dubai last year reported an 11% increase in rentals to food companies wishing to set up a manufacturing base there. This includes additional space for the Al Barakah date factory at DIC, whose expanded space of 600,000 square feet will make it one of the largest in the category in the world.

“The food cluster is one of our six most successful areas that we have in Dubai Industrial City,” said Saud Abu Al Shawareb, Managing Director. “Providing financial support to our tenants through our partnership with Emirates Development Bank is a major factor. These funds can be used for working capital, automation or expansion plans, and more.

“Then there is the partnership we have with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technologies, which will help our tenants access new export markets.”

It was last year that the UAE launched its ambitious “Operation 300 billion” program to strengthen the UAE’s manufacturing base and boost its share of the country’s GDP to 300 billion dirhams by 2031. , against 133 billion current dirhams. In this regard, food production will have significant visibility within these plans.

Dubai Industrial City is not the only entity thinking about food at this point.

Securing food supplies and stocks

Once the world realizes that there are no guarantees for global shipping and supply chain deliveries, every nation is determined to improve its food security needs. In Abu Dhabi, the AD Ports group – which has just completed an IPO worth 4 billion dirhams – is developing one of the largest food trading and logistics centers in the region at its KIZAD industrial hub.

With a built-up area of ​​3.3 square kilometers, the food cluster will have trade pavilions, cold stores and more, which together will help meet the region’s food security needs.

JAFZA’s food push

When it comes to food, the Jebel Ali Free Zone has developed its interests over the years, and it has all paid off in these pandemic-ridden years. The F&B cluster here generates around 20% of Dubai’s total F&B-related trade volume. The cluster offers specific incentives such as customs, corporate non-taxation and VAT exemptions.

According to Ahmad Al Haddad, Chief Operating Officer, Parks and Zones at DP World UAE, which operates JAFZA, “As a global food logistics and manufacturing hub, the UAE’s role is important. Thus, to ensure its diversification and increase investment and commercial figures, it is essential to identify attractive opportunities in the F&B market. To do this, we rely on Jafza, the first commercial and logistics hub. Keeping in mind the changing market, we are constantly improving our facilities which have helped us to forge valuable global and regional partnerships.

The Khalifa Fund supports several projects

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Fund has created several F&B-focused startups in recent years, with Agritech and food security being the highest priorities.

Since its inception, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has approved 271 projects and financed 215 projects in the F&B sector, with total disbursements amounting to 188 million dirhams.

The number of projects in this sector represents 18.5% of the total number of projects financed, while the value of loans represents 14.4% of the total loans activated.

Among the specific actions of the fund on F&B, it runs an Innovation Lab and offers specialized workshops to support SMEs in the sector.