Dubai Free Zone to refund US$354 million in fees to spur economy

The refund is expected to help companies invest in their operations and strengthen their businesses. (Bloomberg pic)

DUBAI: Dubai’s main port and biggest free zone authority plans to return 1.3 billion dirhams (US$354 million) in cash and bank guarantees to its clients in an effort to stimulate the broader economy.

Jebel Ali Free Zone will start refunding companies operating in its jurisdiction in September.

Jafza, as the economic zone is known, said in a statement the move will help companies invest in their operations and strengthen their businesses.

Last year, the United Arab Emirates reduced fees required to hire foreign workers, cutting the annual cost to just 60 dirhams per employee from 3,000 dirhams.

The stimulus was intended to blunt the effects of lower oil prices and weakened regional economies which have hurt growth in the UAE, where expatriates make up about 80% of the population.

Jafza and port operator DP World Plc are key employers in Dubai accounting for 16.2% of the emirate’s total workforce.

The free zone said it contributed over 33% of Dubai’s economy in 2017. Dubai’s nominal gross domestic product in 2017 was 412 billion dirhams.