The Business Year

Abdelaziz Fikri

Senior Manager, Al Saja’a Industrial Oasis (ASIO)

Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa

General Director, Emirates Company for Industrial Cities (ECIC)

As the Emirate upgrades its variety of special economic zones, industrial parks are fast becoming one of the most critical ways of combining industrial output with commercial sophistication.

What is the history of your industrial park?

Abdelaziz Fikri Sharjah Asset Management (SAM), the investment arm of the government of Sharjah, launched ASIO in accordance with its vision to create a strong and diversified economy and further boost the competitiveness and prosperity of the Emirate. Aspiring to be the one of the largest industrial parks of its kind in the region, ASIO will help contribute to the sustainable growth of the Emirate. The industrial park is a dedicated platform for the industrial sector in the UAE. Its strategic location, together with state-of-the-art infrastructure, grants the Emirate a competitive edge. Moreover, it will allow businesses based in ASIO to flourish and make use of land, sea, and air links. ASIO stretches over an area of 14 million sqft and comprises 353 multi-use plots, including 220 plots for light industries, 53 plots for medium industries, and 80 plots for mixed-use businesses, in addition to three plots for retail and one for staff accommodation. These are available to Arab nationals as freehold and as 100-year leases for non-Arabs.

Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa State-owned zones have different objectives than the ECIC and therefore different customers. First, they typically aim to attract megaprojects with grand ambitions that can rarely be sustained or undertaken by a private company with stockholders. In contrast, we target SMEs. Secondly, we are more flexible than the larger free zones and industrial cities. That flexibility is a testament to our policies and central to adjusting our costs in line with business owners and payment schedules to meet an ever-changing business environment. Larger industrial zones are unable to match our personal touch and flexibility when it comes to supporting businesses. We do this in the hope that it helps struggling SMEs survive in a competitive- and low-priced marketplace. Small businesses are the backbone not only of local and developing economies, but also of communities structured around the family unit. We are very proud of the presence we have in local communities, the businesses that occupy the Emirates Industrial City, and the support we can offer them.

What effect do the free zones in Sharjah have on your business?

AF ASIO represents a new concept in industrial oases and free zones. It offers free zones benefits, while investors in these plots are also exempt from service charges. Bank finance is also being offered on easy terms. ASIO is one-of-kind as it offers direct access to world-class logistical infrastructure for companies to import, export, or re-export goods and materials, both into and out of the UAE. The industrial plots offer companies one of the region’s most business-friendly locations. In addition, ASIO is set apart as it offers post-implementation community management.

MNAH The effect will be positive. We have very different functions and hopefully we are able to complement and support each other, business to business. For this to occur we must establish a strong and open line of communication between all the parties concerned as well as relevant government organizations. We have to work together to ensure that Sharjah remains a preferred business area, not only for industrial purposes, but also commercial, logistics, and other services. An easy way to do this is by referring to these economic zones or special economic centers. Additionally, as Sharjah has some of best universities in the Middle East, we should work to develop programs designed to attract graduates into the industry. We have signed an agreement with Sharjah University to work in partnership to create internships and on-the-job training to give academics opportunities to enter the private workforce. Rather than finishing university and finding themselves without job prospects or seeking out government jobs, we want graduates to get involved with the industrial sector to gain real work experience. In GCC countries, it is not uncommon for young people to rely on the public sector to find employment. Unfortunately, this mentality can be detrimental to growth in the private sector. We are trying to change this mentality and support a transition toward creating jobs and promoting efficiency.



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