International Humanitarian City (IHC) seeks to provide aid agencies and airfreight operators with a total-solution humanitarian free zone hub, explains Ronald Kersbergen, operations manager at IHC.
What is the brief history of IHC?
IHC was created in March 2007, as an independent free zone authority. Today's set-up is the result of a series of transformations, including a merger between Dubai Aid City (DAC) and Dubai Humanitarian City (DHC).
In October 2005, DAC and DHC became Dubai Aid and Humanitarian City (DAHC). Over the next 14 months, the newly formed entity worked towards consolidating existing clients, systems, offerings and facilities, and with the appointment of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein as chairperson in 2006, her dedication to the humanitarian ideal fuelled the development of the project.
Under HRH's direction, DAHC evolved to become International Humanitarian City (IHC) and, in April 2007, IHC officially announced its relocation to a specially designated plot in Dubai World Central, in order to take advantage of access to port and airport facilities, enhancing the organisation's capabilities and focus on humanitarian logistics and emergency response.
Who would operators need to contact in order to gain membership to IHC?
We have detailed information on our website pertaining to the procedures and forms required when applying for a licence in IHC, and have a dedicated team that deals with prospective companies in the event there are any queries or specific needs that need to be discussed prior to initiating the registration procedures. All contact details are available on our website and further details about IHC's fees will be shared in due course.
What sort of benefits does IHC offer aid agencies and airfreight operators?
IHC today serves as a key aid and humanitarian hub, providing support to 56 members, including UN agencies, local and international aid organisations, and commercial companies. We offer all the benefits of a tax-free environment, and we see ourselves as a facilitator for the aid agencies as well as for the commercial companies working in the humanitarian sector.
With so many free zones being established in the Middle East, what makes IHC different from the others?
The services we provide to members help to differentiate IHC. This could range from facilities management, such as maintenance and security, to governmental services, such as registration and licensing. We also provide very customised solutions, such as such a recruitment website, which gives IHC members access to a database of online CVs and job openings.
By relocating, we have also taken advantage of the seven-hour maximum flight time to major crisis-prone areas, together with direct access to Jebel Ali's international airport and seaport.
What are the benefits of Dubai as a strategic location for the aid community?
Dubai benefits from a strategic location geographically, but the city benefits from a wealth of technology, infrastructure, security and concentration of resources.
Our masterplan unveiled in April was designed as a synthesis between IHC's unique concept, value proposition, comprehensive offer and facilities, and the strategic environment in order to deliver a total-solution humanitarian hub; one that offers adequate infrastructure, meets security requirements, employs the highest standards and best practices, and above all offers an accelerated global emergency response.
How do you see IHC developing in the short and medium terms?
As IHC moves to Jebel Ali, our role will enhance as well, in order to create a stronger footing for IHC as an instrumental humanitarian logistics, procurement, communications and training hub.
Organisations and commercial companies registered with IHC will benefit from additional realty and value-added services specifically designed to support their operations, encourage networking and coordination.
From added-value governmental services (such as dedicated registration and licensing centre, visa-issuing services, legal support and governmental paperwork), to customs clearance, humanitarian support services, emergency response facilitation, donor assistance and CSR consultancy, to name but a few.