In conversation with Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director, HFZA
Established in 1995, Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZA) proudly welcomes over 6,500 companies from 163 countries, testament to its standards of service, state-of-the-art infrastructure and broad range of permissible business activities. The free zone sits on a 30 million square metre site in Sharjah, capitalising on its unique location with ports on both the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, as well as an international airport and road links to offer investors access to 1.5 billion potential customers.
In an exclusive email interview with GN Focus, Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director of Hamriyah Free Zone Authority talks about the unique initiatives that the body is doing to drum up confidence among entrepreneurs looking to set up business.
Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZA) recently signed an MoU with the Sharjah Driving Institute to develop a driver training unit. What else has HFZA been doing to enhance public-private partnerships?
We are constantly working and coordinating with the public and private sectors to launch innovative initiatives and smart solutions that serve, support and develop the local business sector.
Improving investor experience has always been a top priority for the free zone and we are doing so by developing new mechanisms and means of cooperation according to systematic and institutional methods.
This goes in line with the objectives and strategy of the Sharjah Ports, Customs and Free Zones Authority, based on which we are looking forward to achieving fruitful cooperation with various stakeholders.
Meanwhile, we are also doing our utmost to deliver a wide range of value-added services and necessary facilities that would make it easier for investors to conveniently do business, and upgrade theirs according to the highest international standards being followed worldwide.
For today’s entrepreneurs, it’s all about speed and how quickly they can set up business. In this regard could you shed some light on HFZA’s unique plan to set up business in less than an hour and how successful the venture has been?
HFZA provides more than 285 online services through our website, which allows investors to avail important services, such as applying for a request to establish a company in the free zone.
This is simply done through HFZA’s Single Window Operation, which is tailored to complete all transactions under the supervision of a highly efficient and professional team, who makes sure that investors get the licenses and permits within one hour only. The process requires 4 easy steps: Choosing the type of license and type of facility; submitting the signed application form along with the required documents; making the payment and finally, receive your trade license.
There is a lot being said about how bad the pandemic has been for SMEs in the UAE. As one of the premier free zones in the UAE supporting SMEs, what is your take on this statement?
The UAE’s proactive vision has largely contributed to ensuring the continuity of businesses and supporting economic life in general, where the UAE’s wise leadership had launched more than 100 economic incentives across all emirates and covering various sectors areas.
For example, Sharjah’s SMEs had the lion’s share of the initiatives launched by the emirate’s Executive Council since the very beginning of the crisis.
These initiatives have not only sent a message of confidence for businesses and investors, but also alleviated the economic burdens on Sharjah’s SMEs by introducing a set of measures in support of projects and establishments in a way that help them play their full part in serving the community and economic development as a whole.
What are the initiatives that HFZA has introduced to rebuild confidence among SMEs and entrepreneurs and get them to invest in setting up business during the pandemic?
We have launched several packages and initiatives to support all businesses and investors, including exemption on inspection fees, fines for the late renewal of commercial licenses and visas, as well as 50 per cent discount on transferring shares, aligned with the government stimulus package.
Our visa validity has also been extended to three years for investors and their employees alike which gives a positive impact on their operational costs. We are also offering new companies 20 per cent off on warehouse and office packages as well as complete exemptions on licence fees.