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August 23, 2018 | Singapore | OSEA2018 Industry Insights

Under the leadership of Mr Saud Salim Al Mazourei, Director of the Hamriyah Free Zone, the bustling hub is now home to more than 6,700 companies, up from 81 companies in 2000. Here, he provides insight into the initiatives in place for investors to reap benefits from their investments in the region.  

Mr Saud Salim Al Mazourei, Director of the Hamriyah Free Zone

Mr Saud Salim Al Mazourei, Director of the Hamriyah Free Zone

Q: Tell us more about yourself and your role at the Hamriyah Free Zone. 

A: My name is Saud Salim Al Mazrouei and I am the Director of two of the economic growth engines and large Free Zones of Sharjah – Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZ) and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone. HFZ is the second largest and fastest-growing Industrial Free Zone of UAE and home for 6,700 companies from over 160 countries.

My primary role has been driving the business and operations of HFZ, converting challenges into opportunities, building strong alliances, and transforming HFZ into a Primary Hub for Steel, Petrochemicals, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Packaging, Maritime, Timber, Construction, Food and Perfume in the region.

Q: What do you find most fulfilling about your role?

A: The most fulfilling thing is to drive the growth of Hamriyah Free Zone from the front. We stated Hamriyah Free Zone around 20 years back with a handful of companies in a small area near Hamriyah Port. Today, we have expanded to a land area of 30 square kilometres, hosting more than 6,700 companies from over 160 countries, and employing more than 50,000 people in the zone.

Hamriyah Free Zone has Middle East’s largest Steel Zone with more than 165 Steel Manufacturers and Fabricators. It is also home to UAE’s second largest Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Hub and second largest Marine and Ship Building Hub. We have launched the first Food Park of Middle East with state of the art infrastructure and world class facilities, and we are also the first free zone in the Middle East to offer a Business License in less than an hour.

We have achieved this with lot of hard work and commitment. The International Business Community has recognised our hard work and awarded us with several Business Excellence Awards for Quality and Excellence.

Q: Under your leadership, the Hamriyah Free Zone now has more than 6,700 companies, up from 81 companies in 2000. Was anything done differently to achieve this? 

A: Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) has always wanted to stay ahead of the competition. We did a thorough market study and researched on business trends, challenges, Investors’ behaviour, their requirements and interest. We found that competitiveness, speed and ease of doing business and support were key factors for attracting investment.

We capitalised on our research and reengineered our business processes by simplifying time-consuming and complex steps. It took us some time, but our efforts proved successful in reducing the time needed for our services.

We have also introduced a number of Value-Added Services for Investors through our internal departments and partners. HFZA has also started acting as an interface between Investors and other Government Authorities, which gives utmost comfort to new investors.

Other than providing quality service with ease and speed, we’ve invested heavily in infrastructure enhancement for our Free Zone, and we’ve also promoted our Zone globally. As a result, we have become one of the fastest-growing Free Zones of Middle East and Primary Hub for many sectors, and our growth is continuing in spite of challenges and the global economic slowdown.

Q: Has technology played a role in improving processes and efficiency at HFZ in any way?

A: Yes, technology has played a great role in simplifying complex and time-consuming business processes & overall development of the Free Zone. Today, 80% of our services are offered online and we are working towards increasing that.

We’ve closely analysed key areas of automation and development and implemented an integrated system across different departments in HFZA. Amongst other improvements, it now allows us to issue a trade license in less than one hour.

Capitalising on our IT infrastructure, we have a geo-mapping system which seamlessly updates the status of the facilities. This makes it easier for all the departments of the organization to access updated information at all times.

Q: What is your vision for HFZ?

A: To become the most competitive and investor-friendly Free Trade Zone in the Middle East, and to add to the value of the esteemed emirate of Sharjah by creating an environment within the Hamriyah Free Zone that attracts reputable asset-based industries, quality trading, commercial and services organizations.

We will achieve this through our hard work and commitment to achieve excellence. Efforts include offering best-of-class products, services and support to enable our investors to operate profitably, safely and in an environmentally and socio-economically responsible manner.

Q: A recent partnership with Gulf Energy Information’s global publication will provide international exposure for some 1,500 companies in HFZ’s petrochemical, oil & gas sector. How did the partnership arise, and are there any other initiatives in the works that will benefit this sector?

A: As you know, Hamriyah Free Zone is the second largest Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Hub of UAE with more than 1,500 companies operating in this sector and the number is growing every day and every month. Our strategy is to promote Hamriyah Free Zone globally and to provide Global Platform to HFZ’s Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Investors for promoting their Products and Services.

We met Gulf Energy Information (Gulf), world’s largest and leading publisher and provider of business and technical knowledge for the global oil and gas industry, some time ago. And after a few rounds of discussions last year, we entered into a Strategic Partnership to promote HFZ and provide international attention and exposure to HFZ’s Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Investors. This partnership aims to provide them with a global platform to market their products and services.

Gulf Energy Information is publishing a Special Report on HFZ’s Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Sector which will be distributed along with their publications to more than 100,000 decision makers and readers globally.

And yes, we are implementing a number of initiatives to promote this sector internationally as well. For example, we have been participating in several Events, Exhibitions, Roadshows and also working closely with many Business Councils, Embassies and Consulates of UAE and different countries.

Q: What are some of the investment opportunities in HFZ available today for Asian companies? Is the oil and gas sector bullish?

A: Hamriyah Free Zone is a one-stop destination for all industry sectors and company sizes, from SMEs to large industries and corporations – a rare opportunity in the region.

It is also the primary Hub for Steel, Petrochemicals, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Packaging, Maritime, Timber, Construction, Food and Perfume sectors in the region and provides very good investment opportunities for Asian companies. We have created a platform for entrepreneurs to start their business, and with room to expand if they require.

Additionally, the Oil & Gas sector is one of the key focus areas for the Free Zone, and we are witnessing major growth in this sector, supported by healthy oil prices.

Q: You will be speaking at the OSEA2018 International Conference. What do you think will be the most important takeaway for your audience?

A: The major highlight would be that the Hamriyah Free Zone is the most cost-effective integrated Free Zone, especially for Petrochemical, Oil & Gas companies from all around the world. We have witnessed constant growth for all the companies operating in this sector.

I will also highlight the benefits, logistical advantage, world-class infrastructure and future plans for the Zone. We strongly believe that for those who wish to set up their base in the region, Hamriyah Free Zone is potentially their best option.