Dubai Industrial City canters on

Saud Abu Al-Shawareb, managing director, Dubai Industrial City talks about the business park's multi-million dollar investment
Dubai industrial city

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As the world looks for avenues of positivity during an unprecedented time, the logistics industry are soon becoming the unsung heroes transporting essentials to the needy. Saud Abu Al-Shawareb tells Nikhil Pereira how Dubai Industrial City is doing its bit.

The Dubai Industrial City has been a significant contributor to Dubai’s non-oil revenue. The business park, which is a member of the TECOM Group and part of Dubai Holding, is home to more than 200 operational factories, a number that is projected to rise in excess of 250 by the end of this year.

Saud Abu Al-Shawareb, managing director of  Dubai Industrial City joined as a project manager in the engineering department back in 2006. “I’ve been lucky to hold several leadership positions including head of operations and executive director of partner relations,” he tells Logistics ME.

Al-Shawareb shares his straightforward strategy for success: “to attract players in the light and medium manufacturing sectors to its ecosystem”. Dubai Industrial City sits on a 550 ft2 million plot of land with an abundance of real estate space available.

Fresh on the back of an AED410m investment at the start of 2020, the business hub has undertaken several expansion measures to ensure the growth of manufacturing and logistics. “The enhancements include two highway extensions (AED75m) to Emirates Road and a worker accommodation village. The infrastructure project provides heavy-tow trucks with direct access to the major causeway linking Abu Dhabi with the Northern Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia. In addition, a 14,000-bed worker accommodation village (AED335m) brings the total number of beds in our community to more than 56,000,” Al-Shawareb adds.

Automation will create efficient warehouses that are smart, interconnected and less labour-intensive. Predictive analysis will enable warehouse operators to predict volume demand for goods, as well as highlight risks and identify trends in the supply chain. Technology also improves traceability and this transparency will help suppliers and manufacturers build stronger relationships.

To date the business park has made direct investments of more than AED5.2bn throughout its ecosystem.

Strength-to-strength

Al-Shawareb says the business park went from “strength to strength last year” as it continued to attract new business partners after Badia Farms and Baofeng Grain Mills joined its community.

“The former is building a high-tech vertical farm that will produce 3,500 kg of high-quality fruits and vegetables each year. Baofeng Grain Mills from China will open the region’s first fresh rice noodle factory with a capacity of 250,000 kg per day. Both will contribute to food security in the UAE,” he notes.

In addition Enviroserve opened the world’s largest e-waste recycling plant in March 2019. While UAE-based Al Madina Group opened a 400,000 ft2 corporate headquarters, which houses Al Madina Distribution Centre and Oasis Cuisines. “We signed a long-term agreement with Lootah Real Estate Development to establish a pre-built modern industrial development called Senaeyat,” Al- Shawareb adds.

In 2020 Dubai Industrial City had a flying start, along with the aforementioned AED410m expansion projects, the business hub continues to witness a steady demand for real estate in its “well-designed masterplan”. Dubai Industrial City has six sector-focused zones: minerals, base metals, food and beverages, trading and distribution, transport, chemicals, and machinery and equipment. “This continued growth in our community supports the UAE government,” he adds.

The enhancements include two highway extensions (AED75m) to Emirates Road and a worker accommodation village. The infrastructure project provides heavy-tow trucks with direct access to the major causeway linking Abu Dhabi with the Northern Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia. In addition, a 14,000-bed worker accommodation village (AED335m) brings the total number of beds in our community to more than 56,000

We are living in unprecedented times with the coronavirus disease steadily making its ill-effects felt across the world. The pandemic has ground world economies to a halt, with manufacturing  across several sectors stalling.

The Dubai Industrial City is playing its part in one way or the other to supplement the country’s efforts. “The UAE is supporting all residents with timely deliveries of food and medicine and is prepared to face any challenge. While it is difficult to see how the global coronavirus pandemic will impact the logistics market in Dubai and around the world, a short-term rise in demand for FMCG products ordered online could boost the local sector,” Al-Shawareb says.

He adds that the UAE government’s increased economic stimulus package of AED126 billion “will reduce the cost of doing business, bolster small and medium-sized enterprises, support infrastructure projects and reinforce the business sector during these unprecedented times”.

Towards 2030

As the strategy unfolds Al-Sharaweb has his sights firmly set on a long-term plan — the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030. As a “key enabler” of the strategy Al-Shawareb sheds light on the progress made towards strategy.

“Last year stakeholders of the initiative reached a major milestone by completing 60% of the phase one objectives in the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030. The first phase will enhance production in Dubai by no less than 3% and positively reflect on the economic value added in Dubai and the UAE. With the volume of production rising as a result of this, logistics companies — from local distributors and warehouse operators to multinational corporations — can expect to see an uptick in activity. We can support this demand with pre-built industrial units, scalable warehouses and land leasing services,” he says.


Al-Shawareb’s passion for the logistics sector is unparalleled, apart from having his finger firmly on the pulse locally, he dissects the evolution of the sector globally. “Like other sectors, the logistics industry is undergoing immense change and transformation driven by technology and sustainability. Locally — as well as internationally — this brings new opportunities and uncertainties to the industry. The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority predicts the country’s logistics sector will see its contribution to the national GDP rise from 5.4% in 2019 to 8% in 2021,” he tells Logistics ME.

Tapping into his expertise and knowledge of the logistics industry Al-Shawareb predicts the fourth industrial revolution will create “monumental opportunities across the manufacturing and logistics supply chain”.

He adds: “Automation will create efficient warehouses that are smart, interconnected and less labour-intensive. Predictive analysis will enable warehouse operators to predict volume demand for goods, as well as highlight risks and identify trends in the supply chain. Technology also improves traceability and this transparency will help suppliers and manufacturers build stronger relationships.

“Our business partner Unilever is one of many companies at the forefront of new technologies. The FMCG giant operates an AED1bn Personal Care Plant that manufactures household beauty and personal care brands and was named an ‘Advanced Industrial Revolution Lighthouse’ by the World Economic Forum in 2020.”

Challenges and opportunities

“Our main challenge has been transforming Dubai Industrial City into a vibrant live-work-play community and this journey started in 2018,” Al-Shawareb tells Logsitics ME. To help businesses thrive the authority created an interconnected supply chain representing every aspect from raw materials like cement and asphalt to vertical farming, packaging, warehousing and logistics.

“To strengthen our retail and dining offering, we inaugurated the AED100m Sapphire Mall in December 2018. We have continued to invest in infrastructure and accommodation to create a world-class business-focused community full of life, sustainability and innovation,” he says.

Meanwhile the burgeoning e-commerce sector in the UAE spells success for Dubai Industrial City as e-commerce has put warehousing and logistics on an upward trajectory. It is the top sector driving demand for warehousing space in Dubai, followed by engineering and manufacturing along with third-party logistics, according to a recent report.

In conclusion Al-Shawareb says: “This transition from bricks to clicks has facilitated a surge in global e-commerce revenue sales. Thanks to the region’s highest mobile penetration and strong purchasing power per capita, the UAE is the fastest-growing market in the MENA region for e-commerce. And e-commerce sales in the UAE are estimated to grow by an average of 23% annually between 2018 and 2022.

“On the back of this, demand for industrial and warehousing space witnessed a strong increase the second half of 2019. As Dubai Industrial City sits on a 550 ft2 million plot of land, we are ready to support players in e-commerce with land for self-build and land for lease. We also have high-quality, high-powered and scalable warehouse units ranging between 5,000ft2 and 11,500ft2. This provides companies with the flexibility to merge multiple plots and create larger industrial units.”

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