Dubai Free Zones Council - About

Mission

To provide a platform for seamless collaboration amongst Dubai free zones in order to enhance their performance and global competitiveness by:

    • Working towards favorable regulations and ecosystems with local, regional and international bodies and regulators
    • Enabling the sharing of best practices amongst council members
    • Providing a fair representation of the various free zones offerings

Vision

To enable Dubai’s free zones in becoming a leading global destination for investments and a key contributor to the Emirates strategic goals.

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

Chairman, Dubai Free Zones Council

The Dubai Free Zones Council (DFZC) aims to drive the development of free zones in Dubai in order to attract investments and create an enabling environment for boosting diverse areas of the national economy, such as industry, trade, tourism, and services. Furthermore, it seeks to enhance collaboration between the free zones, building synergies based on the exchange of knowledge and best practices. The council’s efforts support Dubai Government’s strategic plans and contribute to establishing the emirate as a leading global investment destination.

Council Members

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His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni

Executive Chairman of Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority, Secretary General of the Dubai Free Zones Council

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His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni

Executive Chairman of Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority, Secretary General of the Dubai Free Zones Council

With over 25 years of experience leading and developing free economic zones, H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni is considered one of the world's top free zone influencing leaders. In 2021, H.E. Dr. Al Zarooni was appointed as Executive Chairman of Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ), holding three of Dubai's pioneering Free Zones, Dubai Airport Freezone, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Dubai CommerCity.

In 2000, H.E. Dr. Al Zarooni was appointed as Director-General of the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA), which, through his visionary leadership, quickly grew to become one of the top-performing free zones in the world. In 2002, the Dubai Government appointed him as Vice Chairman and CEO of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), one of the region's most advanced and successful technology hubs.

In 1995, His Excellency joined the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority as Director of Research and Administration and at that time, as he was one of the most prominent officials responsible for the establishment of the Dubai Airport Free Zone in 1996. Before joining the Department, he worked in the Ministry of Education for 8 years.

In 2014, H.E. Dr. Al Zarooni was instrumental in conceptualizing and establishing the non-profit World Free Zones Organization. He is presently the chairman of this multilateral organization which acts as an association for all free zones in the world. In 2015, he was appointed as the Secretary-General of the Dubai Free Zones Council.

A prominent personality in Dubai's economy, H.E. Dr. Al Zarooni is a member of the Dubai Economic Council. He also sits on several major institutions' boards, including Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirati Human Resources Development Council, and RIT Dubai Board of Directors, in addition, he is the Chairman of Tradeling Board (a B2B ecommerce marketplace). H.E. Dr. Al Zarooni is an accomplished speaker on free zones and has been invited to address keynotes worldwide at numerous conferences and forums.

H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni graduated with a Ph.D. Degree from the University of Durham in the U.K. His doctoral thesis was on "The Position of the Free Zones in Economic Development."

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Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dubai Multi Commodities Center

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Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dubai Multi Commodities Center

Ahmed Bin Sulayem is the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC and has driven its growth from a start-up of 28 member companies in 2003 to the world’s leading free zone in 2021 with over 20,000 member companies from 180 countries, employing over 65,000 people.

Tasked with enhancing commodity trade flows through Dubai, DMCC has introduced to the market a number of value-added products and services under Mr Bin Sulayem’s leadership. In 2021, DMCC has been named the ‘Global Free Zone of the Year’ by The Financial Times fDi Magazine, for a record seventh consecutive year.

Mr Bin Sulayem oversaw the exponential growth of the DMCC Free Zone master development in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), a 200-hectare business and residential community in Dubai of over 100,000 people living and working across 87 towers. Mr Bin Sulayem also oversees the development of DMCC’s latest real estate project; the much-anticipated Uptown Dubai district.

Mr Bin Sulayem currently serves as the Chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) and the Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX).

The Kimberley Process officially appointed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the first and only Arab country to Chair the Kimberley Process in November 2015. Shortly after, the UAE Ministry of Economy officially appointed Mr Bin Sulayem as the UAE’s Chair of the Kimberley Process for 2016
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    His Excellency Dawoud Abdulrahman Alhajri

    Directo General Dubai Municipality

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    His Excellency Dawoud Abdulrahman Alhajri

    Directo General Dubai Municipality

    His Excellency Dawoud Al Hajri is the Director General of Dubai Municipality since 2018, his multiple missions include supervising the urban plan of the Emirate of Dubai, implementing policies related to building and construction system, focusing on sustainability at municipal fields and urban heritage projects, strengthening infrastructure services, increasing the green area, managing an integrated sewage and waste system and contribute to achieve global leadership and competitiveness. In addition to managing the nature reserves, parks and recreational facilities related to the municipality, organizing and controlling activities related to environmental protection, public health and food safety. Al Hajri participates in different general assemblies and committees at local and international sphere. He heads the Board of Directors of the Emirates International Accreditation Center. He also chairs the Future Cities Council, in addition to the Vice Chairman of the UAE Food Bank’s Board of Trustees as well as the President of the UAE Table Tennis Association. The Director General is also an active member in many committees and councils, including the Executive Council of Dubai, Strategic Affairs Council, Board of Trustees of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, the Higher Committee for Al Quoz Creative Zone Development Project, The Supreme Committee for Urban Planning in Dubai, The UAE Council for Climate Change and Environment, Dubai Future Foundation, Dubai Free Zones Council, Preparatory Committee of Expo 2020, the National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Committee & representative of the Emirate of Dubai in the Emirates Food Security Council. He is also a former president of UAE Society of Engineers, the former Secretary-General of the National Olympic Committee in the UAE, and a former member of the Board of Directors of Al Nasr Sports Club in Dubai. Dawoud Al Hajri holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Building Technology from Eastern Washington University-US. He is also a graduate of Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Leadership Development Program and winner of the Creative Leader Award in the Dubai Government Excellence Program 2015
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      His Excellency Essa Abdulfattah Kazim

      Governor of DIFC

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      His Excellency Essa Abdulfattah Kazim

      Governor of DIFC

      His Excellency Essa Kazim is the Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre 
      (DIFC), Chairman of Borse Dubai, Deputy Chairman of Supreme Legislation Committee 
      in Dubai, and Member of the Securities and Exchange Higher Committee and Dubai 
      Supreme Fiscal Committee.
      His Excellency Kazim began his career as a Senior Analyst in the Research and Statistics 
      Department of the UAE Central Bank in 1988 and then moved to the Dubai Department 
      of Economic Development as Director of Planning and Development in 1993. He was 
      then appointed as Director-General of Dubai Financial Market from 1999 to 2006, later 
      being elected its Chairman from 2007 until 2021.
      His Excellency Kazim holds an honorary Doctorate from Coe College, a Master's degree 
      in Economics from the University of Iowa, a Master's Degree in Total Quality Management 
      from the University of Wollongong and A Bachelor degree from Coe College.
      His Excellency Kazim currently sits on a number of official advisory committees and 
      boards; he is Member of the Higher Board of Directors of the Dubai International Financial 
      Centre (DIFC), Chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors, Chairman of DIFC 
      Investments Board of Directors, Board Member of Nasdaq Dubai, Board Member of Free 
      Zones Council, Board Member of Nasdaq, and Member of the Board of Etisalat.
      His Excellency Essa Kazim also serves as a board member for a number of educational 
      institutions, both in the region and around the world
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        His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri

        Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre

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        His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri

        Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre

        His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri is the Director General of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. He is a member of the Executive Council of Dubai, a member of the Board of Directors of the Investment Corporation of Dubai and also the Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA).

        Almarri was recently appointed as chairman of Dubai Financial Market and also serves as a member of the Supreme Committee of the Expo 2020 and board member at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Emaar Properties PJSC and Taaleem PJSC. 

        Almarri’s responsibilities span enhancing Dubai’s positioning as the preferred destination for investment, business and leisure and for developing and strengthening the Emirate’s economy. 

        Helal Almarri holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the London Business School (LBS). Almarri is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and previously worked at consulting firms, McKinsey and KPMG.
         
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          His Excellency Ibrahim Mohammed BuMelha

          Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Humanitarian City

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          His Excellency Ibrahim Mohammed BuMelha

          Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Humanitarian City

          Other Positions:
          • Advisor to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for Cultural and 
          Humanitarian Affairs
          • The Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum 
          Humanitarian & Charity Establishment
          Professional History
          1977 – 1983 Director of Sessions and Committees at the Federal National Council 
          1983 – 1984 Director for Public Prosecution in the Emirate of Dubai
          1984 – 1992 Director General for Dubai Courts 
          1992 – 2003 Attorney General for the Emirate of Dubai
          2005 – Special Advisor for HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for Cultural and 
          Humanitarian Affairs
           
          Other Social, Islamic and Membership Positions
          • Chairman of the Organizing Committee of Dubai International Holy Quran Award.
          • Former Chairman of Dubai Cultural and Scientific Foundation
          • Former Chairman of the Dubai Charitable Action Council
          • Former Board Member of Dubai Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Council
          • Former Board Member of the Federal Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Authority
          • Former Chairman of Dubai Judicial Institute
          • Board Member of Dubai Free Zones
          • Board Member of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives
          Publications
          • A book on the life and achievements of the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Father of 
          the United Arab Emirates.
          • A Book on the life and achievements of the Late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Former 
          Ruler of Dubai, and Father of the His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 
          Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
          • A Book on the journey of Education in Dubai, since the arrival of the education mission from 
          Kuwait to support the Education System in Dubai.
          • A book of the Poetry of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
          • A book titled “Al Fareej” which documents the cultural and traditional heritage of the United 
          Arab Emirates.
          • A collection of studies on social, cultural, and literary affairs
           
          • A collection of poems on different topics. Four of them won prominent awards
          Education
          • Graduated with a BA Degree in 1976b from Al Azhar Al Sharif University in Cairo, Egypt (the 
          Leading Arab University for Islamic Law and Islamic Studies in the Arab World)
          • Completed his elementary, preparatory, and secondary education at Dubai Schools
          • H.E BuMelha was born in Dubai in 1953
           
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            His Excellency Jamal Abdul-Salam

            Chief Executive officer, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), the governing body of the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) free zone.

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            His Excellency Jamal Abdul-Salam

            Chief Executive officer, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), the governing body of the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) free zone.

            As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dubai Health City Authority (DHCA), the governing body of Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), Jamal Abdusalam leads the strategic growth of DHCC, the integrated healthcare and wellness freezone and a healthcare investment hub where local, regional and global businesses thrive and patients find quality care.

            Before joining DHCA, Abdulsalam was CEO at Nasser Bin Abdullatif Alserkal Establishment. Prior to that, he was a member of the team that founded Dubai Internet City (DIC), and later became an Executive Director at DIC. In his early career, Abdulsalam served as Assistant Regional Manager at Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, where he was responsible for JAFZA’s growth across Asia-Pacific.

            He holds a BA degree in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Point Loma Nazarene University, California. 
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              His Excellency Khalifa Al Zaffin

              EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN DUBAI AVIATION CITY CORPORATION AND DUBAI SOUTH

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              His Excellency Khalifa Al Zaffin

              EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN DUBAI AVIATION CITY CORPORATION AND DUBAI SOUTH

              Khalifa Al Zaffin is the Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC), a government of Dubai entity formulated to cement the emirate’s leading position as a logistics and aviation hub. The expansive scope of DACC includes, the management and strategy of Dubai’s twin aviation hub: the Dubai International Airport and world’s largest airport in the making, the Al Maktoum International Airport. The far reaching purview of DACC also includes Dubai South and Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, the construction arm of the Dubai aviation sector dedicated to developing the infrastructure and enhancing the capacity of airports. At the forefront of Dubai’s dynamic aviation expansion, Al Zaffin is an eminent leader in the industry. He plays a key role in formulating economic, investment, fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching aviation vision, with emphasis on planning, execution and building the region’s first master planned airport city, Dubai South. An integrated city that spans 145 square kilometres and built around the Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai South, home to the Expo 2020 Dubai, is integral to maintaining the emirate’s position among the top global centers for trade and transportation, as well as a leading business hub. It serves to boost Dubai’s status as the aviation capital of the world and will ultimately host 1 million people and create 500,000 jobs. With a view to achieving long-term growth and prosperity and building a futureproof dynamic destination, Al Zaffin’s ingenuity is the key driver powering the strategy, execution and operations of Dubai South. Prior to his two decades of experience in aviation, Al Zaffin was a Senior Project Engineer at Dubai Aluminum Company Ltd. (DUBAL) and currently serves as board member of the Executive Council for Infrastructure Affairs, Dubai World Trade Center, Cleveland Bridge and Deyaar. Al Zaffin is also Member of the EXPO 2020 Dubai Higher Committee. Al Zaffin is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemical Engineering and outside his work, he has a broad range of academic, cultural and public service interests.
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              H E Malik Al Malik - Director General of the Dubai Development Authority

              His Excellency Malik Al Malik

              Director General of the Dubai Development Authority

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              His Excellency Malik Al Malik

              Director General of the Dubai Development Authority

              Malek Al Malek is the Group CEO of TECOM Group, the core enabler of 11 thriving business communities that host over 5,400 companies with over 86,000-strong workforce operating across the rapidly expanding technology, media, education, design, manufacturing and science sectors. Previously, Al Malek served as Chief Executive Officer of TECOM Business Parks. In this role, he led the transformation of TECOM Group’s tech, media, education and science communities into destinations of choice for world-renowned companies and entrepreneurs.
              Al Malek has played an integral and strategic role in TECOM Group’s growth story since joining in 2002, evolving TECOM’s status as a key enabler of Dubai’s Knowledge Economy Plan.

              Through his efforts, he promoted entrepreneurism, built an intellectual framework, and contributed to creating a unique business environment making TECOM a key accelerator of economic development in line with the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021. The outcome of his resilient efforts is evident through TECOM’s unique business destinations that continue to attract investments from Fortune 500 companies helping to transform Dubai into one of the most innovative cities worldwide.

              In addition, Al Malek spearheaded the launch of in5, an integrated innovation platform providing a well-rounded ecosystem that incubates talents, entrepreneurs and start-ups nurturing them to their next phase of growth.

              Formerly at TECOM Group, Al Malek was the Managing Director of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City.

              TECOM Group’s portfolio of successful business communities include Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, Dubai Industrial Park, Dubai Outsource City, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Science Park and Emirates Towers District.

              Al Malek serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Media Council, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (DU), DXB Entertainment, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, as well as actively serving in the development of the UAE’s education sector through his roles on the Board of Trustees of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), as a member of HCT’s Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training (CERT) and as Chairman of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. Previously, Al Malek was a member of the Dubai Free Zones Council, as well as a board member of Energy Management Services International, SmartCity Kochi and SmartCity Malta.
                H E Malik Al Malik - Director General of the Dubai Development Authority
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                His Excellency Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani

                Chairman of the Board & CEO - Meydan City Corporation

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                His Excellency Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani

                Chairman of the Board & CEO - Meydan City Corporation

                Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Shaibani is the Director General of H.H. The Dubai 
                Ruler’s Court, and Managing Director of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, 
                the principal investment arm of the government of Dubai. He is also the Vice 
                Chairman of the Supreme Fiscal Committee of Dubai which oversees the 
                Emirate’s fiscal policies, and is a member of Dubai’s Executive Council, an 
                entity charged with supervising and supporting Dubai’s government bodies. 
                In addition, H.E. Al Shaibani is Deputy Chairman of the Higher Committee of 
                World Expo 2020, the upcoming universal fair to be held in Dubai, and 
                Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of International 
                Humanitarian City (IHC), founded in 2003 in Dubai by H.H. the Ruler of Dubai 
                as a global center for humanitarian emergency preparedness and response. 
                His Excellency also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Nakheel, 
                the world-leading property developer of landmark projects in Dubai, including 
                the award-winning iconic Palm Jumeirah, as well as Chairman of the Board of 
                Directors at Dubai Islamic Bank and Meydan City Corporation.
                H.E. Al-Shaibani is also a member of the board of several government-related 
                organizations including Dubai World and Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Limited.
                In 2009, he played a pivotal role in restructuring Dubai’s debt.
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                  Sultan Bin Sulayem

                  Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DP World and the Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation

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                  Sultan Bin Sulayem

                  Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DP World and the Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation

                  Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem is one of Dubai's leading businessmen. He is the Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DP World and the Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation.


                  Mr. Bin Sulayem’s expertise and visionary leadership spearheaded the rapid expansion of Dubai’s infrastructure, including ports and free zones, contributing significantly to the stellar growth trajectory of the United Arab Emirates. He was also a leader in developing the infrastructure supporting Dubai’s successful tourism industry, among various other sectors.

                  Highlights of his three-decade business career include:

                  • Leading marine terminal operator DP World’s expansion internationally, including the purchase of the P&O group for US$6.8 billion in March 2006, which propelled it to one of the largest global port operators and trade enablers in the world with 78 marine and inland terminals in six continents.

                  • Overseeing the rapid development of the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) into an unrivalled business park of more than 7300 companies.

                  • Establishing and leading Nakheel, a real estate and tourism property development firm that has created many iconic Dubai projects including The Palm, the world’s largest man-made islands.

                  • Establishing and leading Istithmar World, a major investment house focusing on private equity with a portfolio of investments in diverse sectors across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East including retail, financial services, industry, tourism and hospitality and healthcare.

                  • Pioneering the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a market for gold and precious metals, diamonds and coloured stones, energy and other commodities.

                  Mr. Bin Sulayem has a BSc in Economics from Temple University in the USA. He is a Board Member of the Dubai Executive Council, the UAE Federal Tax Authority. He is also a Non-Executive Chairman of Virgin Hyperloop.
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                    H E Talal Humaid Belhoul - Director General State Security - Dubai

                    Lieutenant General Talal Humaid Belhoul

                    Director General State Security - Dubai

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                    Lieutenant General Talal Humaid Belhoul

                    Director General State Security - Dubai

                      H E Talal Humaid Belhoul - Director General State Security - Dubai
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                      His Excellency Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah

                      PRESIDENT & CEO DUBAI CHAMBERS

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                      His Excellency Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah

                      PRESIDENT & CEO DUBAI CHAMBERS

                      Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah is the President & CEO of Dubai Chambers, one of the largest
                      economic development arms in Dubai. In his current role, he oversees the implementation of
                      Dubai Chambers’ strategic initiatives and plans, which aim to improve ease of doing business
                      in Dubai, support businesses expanding globally, attract foreign companies and investment and
                      advance the digital economy.
                      Previously, Lootah served as CEO of the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection for
                      Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, where he was responsible for overseeing
                      consumer protection, business protection, intellectual property protection and commercial
                      compliance.
                      He also held several other leadership positions at the Department of Economic Development,
                      namely Deputy CEO of the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection Sector, Deputy
                      CEO of the Dubai Export Development Corporation, Executive Director of Corporate Quality
                      and Excellence and Deputy Director of Information Technology Department in Dubai Land
                      Department.
                      He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering from Arizona State University
                      in the United States and an Executive MBA - Strategic Management from the Higher Colleges
                      of Technology in Dubai.
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