Sharjah Airport Free ZoneEyeing Indian Investments

Jaipur, Feb 25 | Updated: Feb 26 2004, 05:30am hrs
Spurred by the success of Indian companies in the Sharjah Airport International Free (SAIF) zone, the government of Sharjah is on a scouting mission to rope in new investments.

Promising to grant a licence to operate in less than 24 hours and a resident visa in 48 hours, SAIF zone deputy director general Sheikh Saqer Al Qassemi told FE: We are ready to provide help to Indian companies in any manner in setting up ventures in the zone.

SAIF zone, which is adjacent to the Sharjah airport, is claimed to be the best airport free zone in West Asia. Sheikh Qasemmi said, Sharjah being a crucial trade point between the east and the west, India could take advantage to develop its trade globally. The zone serves as a crucial sea and air link to major cities in the UAE, Dubai and Sharjah city.

Excluding any financial assistance, Sheikh Qasemmi said Indian companies were welcome to take any assistance to set up shop either to sell in the local market or export.

With almost 49 per cent of the 1,217 companies in the zone originating from India, SAIF zone has opened up its doors to more investments by providing affordable office premises, container depots and plots for investors.

Some of the incentives offered in the zone include a 100 per cent foreign ownership, 100 per cent repatriation of capital and profits, 100 per cent free transfer of funds, 100 per cent exemption of import and export duties, 25 years lease extended to similar period as well as no income or corporate tax.

Official sources said Sharjah was Indias second largest partner apart from US in overall trade. Out of this gems and jewellery exports between the two made up as much as US $542 million, the sources said.

Companies like Zee Telefilms, ICICI Infotech, Living Media, Godrej and Boyce, Ashok Leyland were already operating in the SAIF zone, the officials said.