Although the UAE is not an agricultural country because of its climate, the DP World, UAE Region, and JAFZA take no notice of this case and continue establishing a world-class hub for agricultural food companies. The country has become one of the prominent regional hubs for food and agricultural products exported worldwide.
To further support the F&B sector, Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO and managing director, DP World, UAE Region, and CEO of Jafza, launched seven accelerators that complement each other to create the region’s business environment. He proudly stated that they have one of the region’s biggest clusters in the food and beverage sector, with more than 550 companies from 71 countries with 6,000+ employees.
“Spread over a total area of 1.5 million square meters of facilities, the cluster includes warehouses and storage areas managed by Smart Solutions Logistics, the logistic arm of DP World spread in turn on an area of more than 15,500 square meters and with an office space of more than 8,400 square metres,” Al Muallem stated to Khaleej Times.
These accelerators’ initiative hopes to contribute to the success of the promising Food and Beverage sectors since consumer spending on food is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.8 percent during 2021-24, according to Al Muallem.
The seven accelerators that the DP World, UAE Region, and JAFZA launched include:
1. Food and Agriculture Terminal at Jebel Ali Port
This initiative provides more storage facilities for the F&B sector. According to Al Muallem, the Food and Agriculture Terminal spreads over one million square meters and has a canal with 16 meters depth to allow shipping cargo on a large scale. In addition to 12 berths, they extend over two kilometres with dedicated facilities to serve the industry’s needs, including cereals silos, concrete silos, oil tanks, covered warehouses, refrigerated warehouses, refrigerated truck parking lots, and refrigerated container storage yards. This accelerator is equipped to process cereals, meat and seafood products, bottled water, dairy products, and specialized facilities to handle oil, tea, coffee, cacao, spices, and various primal food products.
2. Business Incubators
The company of Al Muallem has a considerable dedication to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), making it their top priority. Given this, they have launched three distinct incubation centres that are a one-stop-shop for companies’ needs to establish their business and go global, targeting different categories such as halal food companies, Latin American companies, and Indian companies.
“This includes a comprehensive registration package with a commercial license for several activities, flexible office spaces in Jafza One that is in the heart of the region’s largest logistics and commercial centre,” Al Muallem said.
3. Comprehensive Online Platforms
DP World, UAE Region has launched a unified platform called ZADI to enhance the business environment in the UAE with digital economy tools, to support the food products sector, and to ensure food security in the UAE. This platform allows municipalities, ports, and customs teams to conveniently obtain food import permits, customs declarations, cargo handling services, and unified food inspections, as well as clearance of food shipments.
According to al Muallem, the e-delivery order system, which was launched through Dubai Trade, DP World’s single window platform for cross-border trade, enables full automation of import and export transactions, live tracking of the shipment’s status, and electronic payments and collections.
4. Building an Integrated Multimodal Logistics Hub Offering Sea, Air, and Land Connectivity
Another accelerator would be the DP World, UAE Region’s high-speed logistics system, which can serve the food and agricultural products industry. As per Al Muallem, they took advantage of the strategic location in the heart of key routes that connect all the emirates GCC countries and the logistical integration with Jebel Ali Port, which is connected to more than 4,500 port customers. They have strengthened their position with direct high-speed connection with Al Maktoum Airport and express air freight services, becoming a multimodal logistic centre that is capable of efficiently reaching global markets and over 3.5 billion consumers.
5. Credit and Financing Facilities
Part of the strategic plan of DP World, UAE Region, and JAFZA is to have a leading UAE bank to facilitate companies’ access to financing, so they have signed several strategic agreements. “In order to provide a higher level of financing guarantee, Jafza has signed a strategic partnership with Etihad Credit Insurance to provide insurance coverage in the event that the parties importing the products of our companies default their payments. The agreement also includes providing guarantees for loans and bank facilities,” Al Muallem said.
6. Being at the heart of the biggest F&B Cluster in Dubai
An advantage to companies conducting F&B business in JAFZA, it will be located in the biggest F&B cluster in Dubai. It will be very close to the biggest international companies in this sector. Al Muallem said that it includes Nestlé, Heinz, Unilever, Mars, Hunter Foods, Bayard, Al Khaleej Sugar, and Alokozay, among other leading companies and brand names in the F&B sector. This provides startups with value-added services they need for packaging, storage, sorting, stuffing, and handling at the best prices. They also have access to primary foodstuffs that help in manufacturing, facilities for processing all types of products such as cereals, dairy products, meat and seafood, bread, tea, coffee, cocoa, and the world’s largest sugar processing facilities.
7. International Partnerships with Global Markets
The last but not the least accelerator highlights the benefits companies operating in Jafza and the parks and economic zones of DP World, UAE Region enjoy. He explained the advantages of the goods that have the ‘Made in the UAE’ seal in global markets, especially food and agricultural products. As per the CEO, Al Muallem himself, “This is a result of the free trade agreements and customs and tax exemptions between the UAE and several countries. These agreements include the Free Trade Agreement between GCC countries and the EFTA States, the Free Trade Agreement between GCC countries and Singapore and the ‘India-UAE Bridge’ initiative, which enables seamless trade by integrating service offerings and infrastructure capabilities between the two countries.”