May. 27, 2020


Faiz Saleh Al Nahdi

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Faiz Saleh Al Nahdi

CEO, Tawazun Industrial Park (TIP)

TIP provides a secure single-window platform for investors in the defense and security industries.

BIO

Faiz Saleh Al Nahdi joined TIP as its CEO. He is an alumnus of Portland State University and London City University. He is an electrical engineer with a double major in physics. In addition, he holds a master's in air transport management and a project management certification from George Washington University. He started his career in the oil and gas sector and later moved to the aviation sector, where he applied his engineering skills for the presidential flight before taking on the responsibility of the Abu Dhabi Airport's construction program and facilities management.


How was the idea to form TIP conceived?
TIP is a defense industry hub created by the Tawazun Economic Council, which is the entity charged with developing the UAE's defense sector. The initial idea was to establish a center for defense and security manufacturing that would provide the sector with its specific needs in a single location. This led to TIP's official establishment in 2012. The plan was to create a safe and secure dedicated zone with specialized infrastructure for the ammunition industry in Abu Dhabi. Our location is somewhat remote, to strategically suit the purpose of our inception, and yet perfectly connected to all the Emirates, various ports, airports, and highways. TIP is only a few kilometers away from Abu Dhabi Airport and close to the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), giving us the advantage of operating safely and securely without losing our local, regional, or international attraction.

Why are specialized industrial parks like TIP particularly advantageous for the defense sector?
Defense and security are highly specialized business sectors that require a correspondingly specialized infrastructure for which safety and security are paramount. Security is layered and varies as per the respective zone within a secure CCTV perimeter. Although we lack any comparison, the advantage of a regional hub like TIP is that it provides a secure single-window platform for investors in the defense and security industries. Our most defining and distinguishing feature is our ammunition zone where all our facilities, be it storage or assembly, are constructed and governed by the standards laid out in the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG). This makes us uniquely equipped in the country to handle operations related to explosive materials with the highest safety levels. Other than dedicated infrastructure and specialized real estate, we provide services such as facilities management, project construction management, telecommunication, public relations, and business development services to enhance and support our investor's operations. We have signed several MoUs and service agreements with government departments to offer their respective services on-site to enhance the ease of doing business for our tenants. Another distinguishing factor of TIP is its investor-centric relationship model that focuses on the investor's business plan. Our flexibility around tenants is another key strength.

What role does TIP play in safeguarding the personal and corporate IP of its tenants?
There are two considerations in protecting our investors' assets. The first is IT and IP security. In the last few years, we have worked closely with the UAE Signals Intelligence Agency to enhance our IT security to ensure that data is protected with the highest level of security. The second consideration is physical security. This also extends to both the investors' personnel and material. TIP has a single point of entry and exit. Everyone and everything going in and out is recorded and scanned. CCTV monitors all common areas, and only relevant production staff is allowed into Zone 1 facilities. Everyone who works here goes through a security check before being allowed access to the park.

How do you envision TIP evolving over the next five to 10 years?
In 2013, our infrastructure was not complete, and the utilization of the area was low. We have grown 800% since then and yet stand at about 23% of land utilization. We still have a tremendous room for expansion. We are also grateful to the UAE's leadership for the steps it has taken to enhance FDI, through the Tawazun Economic Council and other entities. This opens the door for more strategic ownership and investments over the next few years. Our platform is ready, and the signs we see indicate growth. Considering our current rate of growth, we might even double our size within five to seven years. In 2019, the Tawazun Economic Council announced the Defense and Security Development Fund, and TIP is working with the fund to provide incentives for SMEs.

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