The United Arab Emirates celebrates its golden jubilee in 2021. In five decades, it has gone from being an undeveloped desert country to reaching the red planet. No country in the world has seen a similar upward growth trajectory.

As per the Resonance Consultancy’s latest report, Dubai bags the no. 1 position as the best city in the Middle East and Africa. It ranks sixth in the Ten World’s Best Cities for 2020. The city has outranked London, New York, and Paris in the Quality-of-Life Category. Dubai Airport is the World’s number one airport for international travelers. Burj Khalifa, the largest man-made structure in the World, is in Dubai, as is the world’s largest mall. Dubai won the bid to host the Expo 2020 – the first time the event will take place in the Middle East. The city is continuously growing and is at the forefront of innovation in the Arab World.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, is – by any measure – one of the most known and admired leaders in the region. He has created an extraordinary legacy through his bold vision and ability to deliver, often against all odds. 

“We always seek to be number one. In the UAE and Dubai, we are number one in terms of investment, security, quality of stable life, economic and social progress, and infrastructure,” This is his vision that is passed down to the thousands of teams at the local and federal level who are instrumental in implementing it.

Innovation and Disruption as a mindset, delivered through a structured approach.

Innovation and Disruption are key to Dubai’s success. It permeates down to all aspects of life in Dubai – business, social or economic. The country has a finger on the pulse of global trends and is quick to identify opportunities the new order will bring. The leadership does not believe in resting on their laurels. They are busy in the pursuit of nimbleness and being future-ready.

At Axis Partners, we, too, are pushing the boundaries of innovation – our motto is always to “challenge the status quo”. We help organisations understand, design, and implement inspiring initiatives that are adapted to customer needs. We have a three-pronged approach to any innovation initiative. An idea must pass the test of desirability, feasibility, and viability before moving to the implementation stage.

We are very closely aligned with Dubai’s vision and strategy and are pleased to see the three-dimensional approach being put into practice successfully in business. In this feature, we present the story of EZDubai – a unique initiative that reflects Dubai’s entrepreneurial spirit

Why is EZDubai an innovative idea?

EZDubai is considered to be the first of its kind e-commerce hub in the Middle East. They have invented a one-stop-shop model delivered in an inclusive, fast, and customer-friendly manner.

Now more than ever, the market has widened in the e-commerce sphere, and EZDubai has shaped solutions that meet the needs of both multinationals and SMEs.

“We identified an opportunity and found an existing infrastructure that provided us a readymade plug and play solution. The timeline for implementation was compressed, as we skipped most of the steps of setting up a facility from scratch,” explains Mohsen Ahmad, CEO Logistics District, Dubai South.

To make the experience seamless, they activated multimodal connectivity services between road, air, and sea transportation and streamlined customs processes with an on-site licensing and visa authority. Companies from all over the World can hit the ground running thanks to this initiative.

To secure long-term growth, they have also activated a cross-continental distribution network, extending its reach to the high-growth markets of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

The free zone was launched in January 2019 by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and aims to consolidate the Emirate’s position as a global hub for e-commerce.

EZDubai – An initiative that has passed the Axis Partners test on areas of innovation

Any idea must pass the test of desirability, feasibility, and viability before it can be approved for implementation. Let us follow the journey of EZDubaifrom inception to study how they have done it.

1. It is Customer Desirable

There needs to be a genuine desire to identify problems (real customer listening) and associated opportunities. The right leadership is also required, as true listening leaders believe in customer-driven opportunities.

Mohsen Ahmad, CEO Logistics District, Dubai South, has led the EZDubai project from the start. Ahmad has a Bachelor’s degree in logistics and transportation from the University of Tennessee and a Masters’s degree in logistics and supply chain management from Cranfield University.

He tells us how the idea for this initiative was born.

“In an era of instant gratification, the speed of delivery , location and, low-cost distribution to a broad consumer market become critical factors that determine the success of the e-commerce hub. 

That is one reason why a growing number of e-commerce companies are choosing locations in densely populated markets, where customers and suppliers can be accessed easily. Access to transportation networks is essential for optimizing market accessibility. For e-commerce companies that rely on overseas goods, facilitated access to seaports and airports will ensure that product availability meets demand.” says Ahmad.

He adds, “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is taking giant strides toward becoming one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the Middle East. E-commerce is projected to contribute AED 12 billion (approximately €2.8 billion) to the local GDP by 2023. After thorough research and fact-led examinations of the international and regional markets, we concluded that there had been a significant shift in the sector and consumer behavior over the past few years, and there is a need in the market for an efficient e-commerce ecosystem.”

“The current pandemic has changed how business is conducted, and its impact has been monumental in the Middle East; due to the lockdown, consumers have opted to shop online more than ever before. Companies of all sizes have endured unprecedented challenges to maintain their operations and the inflow of profits during the current global economic slowdown.

Therefore, we decided to build a dedicated zone associated with an inclusive ecosystem that would contribute to the economy and support businesses that are keen on extending their footprint and connect with the World,” he concludes.

Constant innovation and an almost chameleon-like approach to business have been the hallmarks of Dubai’s success, and EZDubai is living proof of it.

2.  It is Technically Feasible

The solution must be ‘feasible’ to implement, cost-effective and efficient. It has to have a backbone that will make it a success.

The UAE has a unique geographical advantage in world trade and has historically invested in setting up world-class infrastructure and connectivity. Exceptional logistics facilities and seamless connectivity are game-changers that reinforce growth in the industry.

EZDubai has equipped itself with the infrastructure, technology, and team of professionals to make an efficient and seamless transfer of goods a reality.

They created a purpose-built, 920,000 square-meter e-commerce zone located at the heart of the Logistics District in Dubai South, right next to Al Maktoum International Airport and directly connected to the Jebel Ali Port.

“The ecosystem supports economies of scale that bring in cost efficiency and enhances operations so that our tenants can benefit and deliver better results to their customers. Efficient operations are at the heart of EZDubai, and our role is to provide a seamless end-to-end experience,” explains Ahmed.

The combination of speed and cost is where the ‘People desirability’ aspect of innovation meets the ‘Technical feasibility’ dimension.

3.  It is Business Viable

The concept should be financially sound and sustainably profitable for you and your customer. It has to be worth the effort and resources invested in the initiative.

Designing a service that drives profitability and agility to your customers will ensure sustained growth to your business. And that is precisely what EZDubai is set to do.

E-commerce is expected to contribute AED 12 billion to the UAE GDP by 2023, which shows a strong market potential. The infrastructure, regulatory framework, connectivity, and ease in logistics will position the UAE as the epitome of the global e-commerce industry.

Ahmad believes that EZDubai succeeds when its customers succeed. This goes to show that customer-centric initiatives drive profitable growth.

The model has been very successful, as is evidenced by the list of top e-commerce players such as Amazon, Noon, DHL, and First Cry, who have set up shop in EZ Dubai.

The three innovation areas meet in one place

Finding the equilibrium between the evolving market, customer needs, and the right technical elements is the perfect example of innovation successfully delivered.

The wide variety of e-commerce companies that have chosen EZDubai as their enabler in a short period shows the attractiveness of the service and its strong potential to grow.

Innovation and Excellence are key to business success and resilience. There is a beautiful quote from HH Shaikh Mohammed that sums up the genesis of Dubai’s success:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if whether you are a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better start running.”