UMM AL QAIWAIN, From humble beginnings in late 2014, the Umm Al Qaiwain Free Trade Zone (UAQ FTZ) has progressed dramatically in this bustling emirate with investors leapfrogging from a few hundred to over 2,500 licenses till date.

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Qaiwain, and Sheikh Rashid bin Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, Crown Prince of Umm Al Qaiwain, the free zone has undergone a complete infrastructure makeover � both physically and digitally.

UAQ FTZ has ushered in a wide gamut of players, from FMCGs, IT companies and specialised consultancies to precious metals, jewellery and auto spare part sellers into its ranks.

"Once Phase 2 comes to fruition, the free zone will function as an independent industrial city with amenities for its employees and residents like a hospital, shopping centres, a school, a hotel and even an exhibition and convention centre, thereby promoting the 'walk to work' concept. Renewable energy, education, health, technology, water and space will be the primary target industries" said Sheikh Khalid bin Rashid Al Mualla, Chairman of Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation of Umm Al Qaiwain.

2015 was the 'Year of Innovation' in the UAE and since then, UAQ FTZ has made confident strides in that aspect by stimulating more white collar businesses like IT companies, back offices, call centres, R&D centres, etc. into the free zone. Facilities like online submission of company formation documents and automated licencing will also be made possible soon.

Sultan Saeed Sultan Al Ali, Executive Director of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Umm Al Qaiwain, said, "This has been possible because of the Foreign Direct Investment from countries like India, UK, and France, and from the others in the Asian subcontinent. This year, we have had an incredible run with over 1,500 new business licences issued in the free zone, and having participated in several marketing activities in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2016.

Johnson M. George, General Manager of Umm Al Qaiwain Free Trade Zone Authority UAQ Free Trade Zone, said, "UAQ FTZ has enjoyed a success-brimmed 2016. The proximity to ports and UAQ's super-reasonable costs of living and of doing business are sure to bring in more numbers in the coming years. There is no doubt that the free zone is on an upward trend and will contribute more to UAE's healthy economy.'' ''Our success has stemmed from our promise of easy-access, one-to-one interactions with investors, who we regard as partners, in setting up their businesses and being there at every step to service their requirements. Facilitating quick company set up through minimal documentation and fewer procedures to complete for clients, without compromising on compliance, has been our modus operandi since our inception. Once word spread about our investor-friendly system, the numbers picked up and we upped our services ever further. Micro-businesses and freelancers have also come to us in good numbers because of Umm Al Qaiwain's pocket-friendly costs of living and healthy business opportunities," he added.

Source: Emirates News Agency