Special economic zones in the Gulf Cooperation Council - statistics & facts

The creation of special economic zones (SEZ) since the 1950s have contributed to increasing globalization of world trade. Today they are established in over 140 countries worldwide. The main purpose of a special economic zone is to provide an area within a country for liberalized business and tax legislation in order to encourage foreign trade, generate job opportunities and de facto increase state revenue. Special economic zones can be broken down into free trade zones (FTZ), free economic zones (FEZ), free ports, industry parks and special urban enterprises in the case of the GCC.

Special economic zones in the Gulf Cooperation Council region

At present there are over 5.4 thousand special economic zones worldwide. Only around one hundred special economic zones can be found in the Middle East and North African region, with almost half of them based in the United Arab Emirates alone. The goal of the special economic zones in the Gulf Cooperation Council region is to promote the process of economic diversification. Domestic and economic reforms by the governments of the region are being enacted to prepare their countries for a future without reliance on oil revenues.
The significance of special economic zones for this purpose is that they allow one hundred percent foreign ownership of businesses, normally restricted to GCC operations only. Furthermore, they have either very attractive tax breaks or in certain cases nil taxation regimes which also aid in appeal to foreign direct investment into the region.

Logistics hubs

Apart from establishing innovation hubs and cities, a leading branch of SEZs in the Gulf Cooperation Council region are the logistics centers and seaports. The region is an important junction for global sea cargo. Additionally, its seaports are crucial for transporting oil and gas commodities from the Middle East to the rest of the world.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 22 most important statistics relating to "GCC SEZ".


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