ECA explores future development trends


DUBAI — The Economic Cities Authority (ECA) participated in the 2018 Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE) organized by the World Free Zones Organization (WFZO) and held in Dubai under the theme ‘Free Zone 10X – The Path to Prosperity”. The conference provided opportunities to explore future development trends and prospects in economic cities, in addition to insights and ideas from international experts and global policymakers.

Representing ECA at the conference was its Vice Secretary General for Economic Development, Eng. Abdulla Al Hasan, who participated in a session titled ‘Investing in Prosperity’. The session, which was moderated by the Chief Knowledge Officer of the WFZO Dr. Mohan Guruswamy, included the participation of Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, Dr. Sidi Ould Tag, director general of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, and Liu Fangzhou, deputy director of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administration.

Commenting on ECA’s presence at the event, Al Hasan stated: “ECA’s participation comes within the framework of its efforts to attract value adding investments that contribute to the diversification of the economy and the provision of quality jobs for Saudi youth.”

He added: “The conference offers the perfect opportunity to shed light on the Kingdom’s role as a promising global hub for economic cities and special economic zones. It also addresses critical issues, some of which are at the core of the Vision Realization Programs, in addition to investment and trade development strategies, among others.”

The session addressed the most important factors for achieving prosperity at the local level, as well as ways through which free zones can contribute to achieving a sustainable, prosperous future. Discussions focused on how free zones can support economic growth and local communities while simultaneously leveraging the mechanisms of global markets.

During his participation in the session, Al Hasan noted that economic and investment policies around the world focus exclusively on economic outcomes, which are represented in attracting investments, raising the levels of economic growth and exports, and creating jobs, among others.

He added: “Investing in prosperity is not limited to being a foundation for economic development; it also extends to include quality, inclusiveness and sustainability, as well as deepening the roots of socioeconomic development.”

“It is certain that investing in prosperity is critical, as it expands our policies and gives communities the chance to climb the development ladder on a regular basis,” Al Hasan explained, stressing that prosperity requires focusing investments on quality rather than just investment volume.

The session also addressed the index of prosperity that WFZO has developed over the past years and launched during the conference. In this regard, Al Hassan stressed the importance of this index and its significance as a qualitative step in the right direction, saying: “This index helps the special economic zones and their stakeholders to follow up and evaluate their development contribution objectively and systematically. It also serves as the developmental compass that enables cities and special economic zones to direct their programs and policies and benefit from the best practices of the world, in a way that serves the concept of prosperity in its different senses."

ECA is a voting member of the WFZO, which is a non-profit organization in Dubai bringing together more than 2,260 free zones located in more than 168 countries around the world. This membership enables ECA to play a vital role in the development of free zones on a global scale, in addition to utilizing research-based knowledge, including educational tools and training courses, and cooperating with associates. — SG