Interview: Dubai Industrial City MD, Abdulla Belhoul
Interview with with Abdulla Belhoul. Belhoul is the managing director of Dubai Industrial City (DI). In this role, he is mandated to establish DI as the most competitive industrial destination in the UAE. DI is a non-free zone development catering to industrial tenants in manufacturing and logistics.
 Business has been good in Dubai this year: has this been true for Dubai Industrial City too?
Dubai Industrial City witnessed a very successful year, with a growing demand in land and an increase in warehouse occupancy. This emphasises that Dubai Industrial City continues to be an attractive industrial and logistics hub for local and regional companies. It also stresses the importance of the industrial sector, being the second largest contributor to the total GDP of the United Arab Emirates.
A large number of local and regional companies chose Dubai Industrial City as a preferred destination for their storage and logistical facilities, including Juma Al Majid Group, Home Centre, Al Gurg Unilever and Al Futtaim Logistics, which have occupied a combined area of more than 940,000 square feet of warehouses in the city.
 What have been some of the highlights for Dubai Industrial City this year?
One of the major milestones for us this year is signing the MoU with Ethiad Rail, to be the location for the Emirate’s sole station. The construction of this station and the Etihad Rail project more broadly, will greatly contribute to the diversification of Dubai’s economy. It will drive investment in infrastructure, transport and the wider value chain, while providing additional connectivity and operational efficiency for companies across the UAE. It will also provide new links between residential and industrial areas, as well as urban and remote communities.
 What role will Dubai Industrial City play for Expo 2020?
Expo 2020 will add to the continued development and success that the UAE has been witnessing over the years. It is the right platform to share Dubai’s business model and to highlight the tangible achievements of our Vision 2020.
While the Expo will be a major boost for all sectors, it will be particularly significant to the industrial sector, as it serves all other sectors through machinery and mechanical equipment, transport equipment and parts, base metal, chemicals, or food and beverage, and mineral products, which means a rise for all contributing to the whole UAE economy.
Being strategically located next to the new Al Maktoum Airport, and spreading across 55 square kilometres (560 million square feet) of land, DI has all the essential advantages that exhibitors and investors would benefit from. These include a large variety of warehousing and logistics facilities; advanced infrastructure; excellent communications and logistics solutions; in addition to the location benefits being close to the EXPO 2020 with access to sea ports and airports advantages.
In addition to that, DI has an ongoing collaboration between different government bodies, and has been offering investors and business partners easy processing for operating and licensing, which would also be considered of great value to those who wish to be based inside the City during the time of the Expo.
 How does the Gulf regions rate in terms of industry standards and potential growth?
The Middle East and Gulf have progressed enormously in the last 20 years both in industry standards and the level of services, and I see it as a long-term, sustainable and growing market.
 What are the biggest challenges facing the industry as a whole?
I see the biggest challenge is the ongoing development of the industry to keep ahead of the game, and making sure we as a business are able to change as other transport and logistics industries are globalised. This is a challenge but also provides great opportunities at the same time. We must never stop working to ensure continuous improvement including innovative ways of thinking.