THE NODE

UAE, Dubai 2015 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Khalifa Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC), on developing DWC, the World Expo 2020, and its legacy.

HE Khalifa Al Zaffin
BIOGRAPHY
HE Khalifa Al Zaffin is an expert on aviation and a leading figure in the aviation industry. He is specifically responsible for setting the strategic vision for Dubai World Central along with other major industry stakeholders. He is responsible for establishing the strategy and overlooking operations, maintenance, and business-related activities of the eight districts that comprise Dubai World Central (DWC) and position itself as a self-sustained economic zone. In addition to his role at DACC, he is also the Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, the construction arm of the Dubai aviation sector dedicated to developing the infrastructure and enhancing the capacity of airports. Prior to his two decades of experience in aviation, he was a Senior Project Engineer at Dubai Aluminum Company. Currently, he serves as a board member of the Executive Council for Infrastructure Affairs, Dubai World Trade Center, Cleveland Bridge, and Deyaar. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.

What would you consider as some of the top achievements in 2013 and 2014 that have helped shape Dubai World Central (DWC) into what it is today?

In 2013-14, DWC achieved several significant milestones in support of its objective of becoming a self-sustained urban destination. These were driven by key developments relevant to our project, including the commencement of the first commercial flight to Al Maktoum International Airport in October 2013, the announcement of Dubai winning the bid to host Expo 2020, and the expansion plan of Al Maktoum Airport, sanctioned by a $32 billion fund. The significance of these mean that DWC has focused on accelerating the development of infrastructure around the airport, anchoring its aviation and logistics offering both in terms of facilities and attracting partners, increasing the tenants in its free zones, beginning projects in the hospitality sector, and signing agreements with industry players. We also signed an agreement with Emaar to develop the DWC Golf high-end luxury residential area. All of this demonstrates our commitment to creating an optimal ecosystem that caters to the needs of the people and businesses that visit DWC or make it their home.

DWC is building a new city within a city. What is the rationale behind this?

DWC is not so much a new city within a city, but rather an extension of what Dubai is today and how it will look tomorrow. DWC has been designed and is seeking to create an urban ecosystem that aligns with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2021. In that same spirit, we are putting the people and businesses at the heart of our development. For businesses, this means ensuring connectivity and speed by channels like our single customs bonded logistics corridor. Businesses will also benefit from the ease of doing business to support their expansion and growth in the UAE and region through a comprehensive ecosystem and free zone offering. For individuals, DWC represents a development that is community driven around residential offerings that will integrate retail, community centers, education, and healthcare. This is ultimately about creating a city of tomorrow that will empower people and businesses to grow and prosper.

What opportunities for investment will DWC create?

There are a number of key drivers that will create investment opportunities. Al Maktoum International Airport alone creates a massive opportunity from a passenger and cargo flow perspective. The airport, when complete, will facilitate an additional 16 million tons of cargo and over 200 million passengers per year. This obviously comes with a significant dividend. Second, by hosting World Expo 2020, there will be an increased need for hospitality, retail, business, and residential services for the 25 million expected incoming visitors. Estimates indicate that the economic impact generated by the Expo between now and 2021 will be approximately $26.5 billion. Furthermore, over the next six years more than 275,000 jobs are estimated to be created in and around the UAE to service the Expo. Third, with the completion of DWC, this area is expected to support a population close to 1 million people. It naturally follows that this will attract considerable investments across its various offerings, including residential, commercial, aviation, logistics, retail, healthcare, and education.

What will the focus be until 2020 and beyond?

Our focus is on delivering and ensuring that the development of the DWC ecosystem meets high benchmarks. We work closely with our partners to optimize Dubai's significant investments in major land transportation projects to boost public transport usage through more advanced, connected bus, tram, metro, and regional rail options. Ultimately, we are working on creating the city of tomorrow that will ensure high quality of life, preservation of resources, and an environment that allows us to live and work more efficiently.