Dubai is set to host the World Free Zones Organization’s (World FZO) ninth Annual International Conference & Exhibition (AICE) from 2–3 May under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Media Council.
Held under the theme ‘Global Trade 2.0: Zones, An Ecosystem of Trust Driving Prosperity,’ this year’s event reflects the Organization's commitment to facilitating the contribution of free zones to economic ecosystems as one of the most reliable ways to promote intra-regional trade and the development of global supply chains at a local, regional and global level.
The ninth edition of the event is set to unite representatives from free zones across the globe to discuss crucial topics and priorities related to the sector. More than 600 industry leaders, officials, leading experts, and specialists from free zone, trade and logistics sectors, as well as entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives from related fields from over 70 countries will converge at the event.
His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization, said:
“The ninth edition of the event represents a new step in the Organization’s journey as we prepare to mark our first decade of operations. The outcomes gained in this event will support us in developing our strategic objectives for the next five years and consolidating the role of the free zone model as a comprehensive economic concept capable of driving the global economy. This is particularly important at a time when governments are searching for effective economic approaches that keep pace with rapid changes and trends moving towards knowledge-based economic activities and high-tech sectors.”
“This year's edition will provide insights into global best practices and the latest emerging trends and innovations in the free zone sector. The World FZO was established to serve as a unified voice for all free zones around the world and as a platform to exchange information and knowledge about free zones to strengthen their role in driving economic and social development and in attracting foreign direct investment. Its role is of utmost importance considering more than a third of global trade passes through free zones, and so these zones have a significant responsibility to ensure the sustainability, safety and resilience of global trade,”
Dubai, which is the official headquarters of the World FZO, was chosen as the destination for the event due to its magnitude and strategic importance. Additionally, the emirate continues to offer outstanding expertise, capabilities and support to contribute to the development of the free zone model as an important component of an integrated economic ecosystem. The Board of Directors of the World FZO unanimously chose Dubai as the destination for this year’s edition during its meeting last year in Jamaica.
“Dubai has become a global model for the development and expansion of free zones. The city is home to some of the most successful free zones, which vary in terms of specialisations and sectors. Furthermore, the emirate’s free zones continue to serve as a benchmark of excellence for free zones globally by adopting the latest technology and innovation in their operations, policies and laws,”
Al Zarooni further said.
“Undoubtedly, free zones in Dubai play a major role in driving the concept of the free zone model globally. On a local level, this sector conveys a message of success, providing the ideal infrastructure, services, facilities, economic incentives, and a dynamic business environment,”
This year's edition will also welcome ministers and high-level government officials from several countries for a specialised ministerial dialogue session titled ‘The Role of Governments in Developing Free Zones and Improving Their Performance’. The session will serve as an ideal platform to uncover ways to drive the objectives of governments to ensure their free zones operate at the highest level and identify solutions to current challenges facing these objectives. Most notably, access to accurate data on the direct and indirect economic contribution of free zones to the economies of countries.
The event will also highlight current challenges facing global trade, with a focus on the post-COVID-19 period and its impact on global trade. The agenda includes five panel discussions, featuring the participation of 30 speakers to highlight themes focused on mitigating the impact of economic challenges, designing, building, and sustaining ecosystems of trust, and ways to maintain the vitality of free zones through strategies that ensure their prosperity. The sessions will also discuss ways to deal with changes in institutional governance and building trust in digitisation and data.
To date, the Organization has more than 1550 members from 140 countries, with a global representation through 12 regional offices around the world and 42 national focal points. The role of the Organization continues to grow as free zones become more dependent on its contributions, services and network of qualitative strategic partnerships that bind its members.
Free zones have grown in terms of their number, size, importance, and position in the value chain and have expanded their activities to new sectors, including artificial intelligence, financial technology, healthcare, and digital commerce, along with traditional sectors. This has resulted in impressive growth in employment opportunities and the contribution of free zones to the global economy in a variety of ways.
Since its establishment less than a decade ago, the World FZO has been dedicated to strengthening and expanding its membership base and providing high-quality, diverse, and comprehensive services to its members. The Organization is committed to encouraging constructive dialogue between all parties and is keen to create opportunities for cooperation to realise its strategic goal of achieving growth and prosperity for global economies through the free zone model.
News Source: Dubai Media Office