Our history


The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) is a global not-for-profit organization that provides one

authoritative, collective voice representing the interests of free zones around the world.


The World FZO was launched in Dubai, UAE, in May 2014, by its 14 founding members and under the auspices

of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and

Ruler of Dubai.


Registered in Geneva and headquartered in Dubai, the World FZO is the only truly international, multi-lateral

organization for zones in the world today.


A new global organization


The free zone concept, in its many forms, has gained popularity over the past few decades, particularly in the

emerging economies of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. From the first free zone at Shannon Airport in 1959,

the model has proliferated to the point where there are an estimated over 3000 free zones around the world, which

support approximately 100 million jobs.


In addition, to ensure they receive the international recognition and support they deserve, the role of these

zones as exemplars of modern infrastructure, as creators of employment opportunities, and as integrators of

services, logistics and transport networks, should be highlighted.


Zones have played a critical role in the economies of many countries and to ensure they have the greatest

possible impact, they need a global, unifying association to bring them together. One that can represent their

interests, share their achievements and support their continuous positive development. It is to address this need

that the World FZO has been created.




The Board of Directors and Executive Management of the World FZO has established a number of key

objectives which form the mandate for the association and underpin all the World FZO’s activities:


1. Bring together free zones; regional, national, subnational and local free zone associations; consultants and advisors to free zones; free zone users; interested governmental organizations; and international trade related organizations, for knowledge exchange, education and training, networking and business development


2.  Provide a forum for free zones around the world to learn, grow and prosper through unrivalled access to exclusive in-depth research and insights 


3. Create ‘best in class’ standards for free zones that enhance the economic ecosystem both globally and in local markets, as well as guidelines for the establishment and administration of free zones


4.  Gather, create, expand and disseminate the knowledge of, and about, free zones internationally


5. Improve the perception of free zones globally and position them as areas that make valuable contributions to the local economy and promote sustainable business


6. Provide specialized operational, administrative, educational and networking services to Members, Partners and Observers through trainings as well as physical and electronic resources


7. Support and advise new free zones internationally as they develop


8. Become the global through leader on free zones and issues relating to them


Founding Members


Our History

On 13 th and 14 th January 2014 a steering committee of 26 leaders and academics met to finalize the details on

the creation of a unifying non-governmental entity to bring together zones from across the globe to share their

achievements, exchange best practices and knowledge, support their continuous positive development and to

ensure the sustainability and continued success of the free zone model. This lead to the official launch of the

World Free Zones Organization on 19 th May 2014, in Dubai, UAE.


These are members of the steering committee and the first Board of Directors:


Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni

Director General of Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA)

Martin Ibarra

Honorary President and founder of the Free Zones Association of the Americas (AZFA)

PC Nambiar

Director of SEZ Biotech Services PVT Ltd, Pune, India

Rose Hynes

Chairman of Shannon Group plc

Julie Brown

President & CEO of Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone

Kenneth Carlstedt

Global Trade Compliance Manager for Momentive

Isidoro Hodara

Isidoro Hodara, Director Zonamerica, Vicepresident Uruguay

Chris Ndibe

CEO of Carclon Group

Jose Luis Rodriguez

Director Comercial y Director de la Zona Franca Aduanera del Consorcio La Zona Franca De


Mehdi Tazi

Board member at TMSA, Tanger Med Special Agency and Managing Director of Tanger Free Zone

Francois Bost

Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne (URCA) in France. He’s a

member of the laboratory HABITER (EA 2076).

The late Luis Pellerano

Former Executive President of Las Americas Industrial Free Zone

Nasser Al Madani

Assistant Director General at Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA)

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