AL YAM INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL BROKERS

Dubai 2020 | OPPORTUNITY | INTERVIEW

SMEs should be assisted by business-friendly regulations and a support system that encourages innovation.

Yasmina Al Azhari
BIOGRAPHY

Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Syria and knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands, Yasmina Al Azhari has been a pioneer businesswoman in Syria since 1979. The founder, owner, and general manager of Mira Trading, she is also partner & vice president of Trade Coordination Office, a shipping agency representing Maersk in Syria until 2017. She recently established Al Yam International Commercial Brokers.

The UAE recently moved to ease regulations, allowing 100% foreign ownership of some of businesses outside free zones. What is the significance of these changes?
The business landscape in the UAE has changed dramatically over the last 10-20 years, with the process of company formation significantly simplified. As the country strives to diversify and develop a knowledge-based economy, there is greater exposure to every sector. Dubai's reputation as a global trading hub has been further consolidated by world-class infrastructure, business-friendly laws, and a visionary government. Recent changes to regulations have also created more welcoming conditions for international companies that wish to establish a physical presence in the UAE. There are now one-stop service facilities available that expedite formalities, and trade licenses can now be renewed online.

How do you assess the role of SMEs within the wider context of Dubai's economy?
SMEs form an integral part of Dubai's economy, and there have been crucial efforts made by the government to foster entrepreneurial thinking and grow SMEs. Due to present incubation, acceleration, and advisory mechanisms in Dubai, there is an accepted view that SMEs are central to the wider effort of building a knowledge-based economy while also contributing to the smart city strategy. Dubai is safe; it is home to 199 different nationalities and has a fertile business environment. As such, SMEs should be assisted by business-friendly regulations and a support system that encourages innovation. A major barrier for SMEs can be start-up costs; however, there is access to funding support.

What is your assessment on establishing an LLC versus setting up in a free zone?
Business formation at a free zone has historically been easier and less time consuming than the establishment of an LLC, but I personally chose to form an LLC with my partner, as this gave us greater business flexibility.