World FZO’s Annual International Conference & Exhibition Sets New Records in Dubai

The World FZO’s 9th Annual International Conference & Exhibition (AICE) in Dubai, UAE was the largest ever since its inception in 2014.


IFZA Official

The event held under the patronage of HH. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai featured over 1,000 participants from over 70 countries worldwide.

In his opening address, HE Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World FZO:

“Dubai’s hosting of the AICE 9th edition highlights the emirate’s successful integrated and interactive model, which is reflected in its Free Zones, and the wise leadership’s support to realize its high economic potential. It also underscores the international business community’s confidence in Dubai’s Free Zones, which presents an advanced concept for their activation and operation in achieving development.”

During the event, a ministerial meeting was held in the presence of HE Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy of the UAE, and 19 ministers from 17 countries, including Martin G. Pedersen, Chairman of IFZA. The ministers deliberated on the role of governments in developing Free Zones and the need to enhance their performance to realize their full economic potential. They also emphasized the importance of building trust between Free Zones and their respective governments to foster prosperity and growth through collaboration.

The second day of the conference began with a session on navigating the changing rules of corporate governance. The session featured an expert panel of speakers, including Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, Aradhna Aggarwal, Claudia Pellerano, and Hanane Taidi, moderated by Cesare Zingone.

Corporate governance is critical to enhancing the credibility of zones and their leaders. Compliance with good corporate governance standards and principles supports transparency, competence, integrity, and the reputation of zones and their leaders. The panelists focused on instilling trust as a fundamental value within the zones’ management. They emphasized the role of the Board of Directors in driving the reform agenda and promoting high performance and strict adherence to corporate governance within the zones.

The last session was on digitization and data. An expert panel of speakers, including Stacy Dieve, Juan Pablo Rivera, Xavi Anglada, Kelli-Dawn Hamilton, and Audrey Tang, moderated by Walter Trezek, discussed the benefits of digitizing data leading to Global Free Trade Zones.

Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time, and the experts emphasized the importance of digitization to improve efficiency, productivity, facilitation, regulation, and even to build trust. Over the last decade, businesses have been talking about data warehouses, big data, and data science. The potential and outcomes for the future are far greater than its current application. A natural extension of digitization is the deployment of data. With zones having such a long-storied history and increasingly spreading, it could lead to the logical conclusion that they are a resounding success.

During the closing ceremony World FZO’s chairman expressed his gratitude to the speakers, sponsors, and attendees for their valuable contributions to the success of the event. It served as a befitting end to a conference that was both inspiring and informative.

IFZA is excited to carry forward the fruitful conversations and collaborations that were initiated at the event. As title sponsor, our support of this event is part of our commitment to forging longstanding partnerships. We aim to drive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Dubai’s economy and cement the city’s leading position in global trade.

“As a Free Zone, we are the facilitators and multipliers of opportunity. We enable and empower the entrepreneurs of the future.”

– Martin G. Pedersen, Chairman of IFZA during his speech at AICE 2023.

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