May 4, 2023, Dubai: The World Free Zones Organization concluded the ninth edition of the Annual International Conference and Exhibition of Free Zones (AICE), which is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the participation of 987 Participants from 95 countries. The organization announced that Bari, Italy would be the next host city for the tenth edition of AICE, after handing over the AICE’s flag to the specialized economic zone, Adriatica Puglia.
His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization, chaired a ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the 9th Annual International Conference & Exhibition (AICE) 2023 in Dubai to discuss the role of governments in developing free zones and improving their performance in achieving their full economic potential.
The agenda of the meeting included a dialogue on the advanced role of free zones in the global economy and how they can better adapt to changing conditions and upcoming challenges to build a system of trust for prosperity and growth represented by free zones with the support of their governments.
The ministerial meeting was attended by 20 ministers from 18 countries, including His Excellency Abdullah Bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, UAE, His Excellency Ahmad Al-Sayed, Minister of State, Qatar, His Excellency Victor Bisono, Minister of Industry of the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Vahan Kerobyan, Minister of Economy of Armenia, His Excellency Javier Silvania, Minister of Finance, Curacao and His Excellency Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism Jamaica.
This year’s edition of AICE graduated 100 participants from the Free Zone Leadership Development Program, which aims to prepare, develop, and enhance the participants’ leadership skills, qualify them for leadership positions in free zones, and manage strategic and development projects to anticipate the future and prosperity of free zones.
Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization, confirmed, during a keynote speech delivered at the conclusion of the conference, that the free zones sector is receiving increasing attention from government agencies and international organizations due to the effectiveness of its operational model and infrastructure in leading the economic recovery phase that the world is witnessing after the Covid pandemic. 19. His Excellency urged the importance of continuing constructive dialogue between all governmental parties, international organizations, and free zones to enhance a system of trust integrated with its policies and incentives to achieve economic and investment returns for national economies and the global economy.
Al Zarooni said: “Since its establishment in 2014, the World Free Zones Organization has been pivotal in advancing free zones worldwide, developing them, and representing their interests before international organizations and government bodies worldwide. All and enhance channels for exchanging experiences and explore prospects for cooperation and operational and economic integration, creating greater job opportunities, sustainable economic growth, and high recovery of supply chains and global trade. It contributes to shaping the future of their free zones through our various qualitative initiatives.”
The Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization added: “This year, the organization enjoyed its largest and most successful edition since the launch of the International Conference and Annual Exhibition with the participation of many leaders and international organizations, and we appreciate the sponsorship of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, may God protect him, for this edition and 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, who reinforced the importance of the organization's mission and objectives in building a system of trust for growth and prosperity.
The 9th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of Free Zones ended on a high note, as it recognized the contributions of its esteemed sponsors in Dubai. The event was made possible with the generous support of "IFZA Dubai," which served as the title sponsor, along with other key sponsors including the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZA), DP World, DIFC, and Luanda Bengo SEZ. The Dubai Chamber and Dubai Duty Free also sponsored the evening functions for the ninth session, adding to the success of the event. It is a testament to the dedication and commitment of these sponsors that the conference and exhibition was able to showcase the latest advancements and innovations in the free zones industry.
The General Assembly of the World Free Zones Organization elected new members to join its board of directors, including Blanca Sorigue Borrell, Managing Director of the Free Zone in Barcelona, Spain, Claudia Pellerano - Chairman of the Board at Las Americas Industrial Free Zone Dominican Republic, Jeffrey J. Tafel - President of the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones (NAFTZ), USA, John Lucy, Director of Liverpool City Region Freeport UK, Dr. Manuel Francisco Pedro, Chairman of Luanda/Bingu Special Economic Zone Development Association Angola, and Badi Klibi, CEO of Bizerta Economic Activities Park Tunisia.
Today, the World Free Zones Organization includes more than 1,500 members from more than 140 countries and has global representation through 12 regional offices worldwide and 42 national points of contact. The non-profit organization, registered in Geneva, Switzerland, has established its essential strategic role over the past decade, strengthened and expanded its member base, and provided quality, diverse and comprehensive services. The free zones approach confirmed its role as a strong driver of growth and prosperity in the global economy. The organization was at the heart of developing this approach through its efforts to provide an environment that promotes innovation, investment, and international trade, all of which contributed to the success of free zones around the world. By continuing to focus on key targets and driving innovation strategies, the organization is uniquely positioned to support the development of free zones and shape the future of business globally.