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United Arab Emirates Table of Contents

United Arab Emirates


The first major factory in the amirate was the aluminum smelter opened by Dubal at Mina Jabal Ali in 1979. It has a capacity of 135,000 tons of aluminum ingots per year, which was reached in 1982. In 1991, after expansion, it produced 290,030 tons of aluminum ingots. The five gas turbines that generate power for the plant are fueled by Dugas's neighboring gas treatment plant. A desalination plant associated with the turbines supplies 40 percent of Dubayy's drinking water requirements.

Dubayy became a strong magnet for industries, large and small, with the opening in 1985 of the Mina Jabal Ali Free Zone. Starting with about forty companies in the first year, the zone hosted 382 firms by 1992, including multinational giants Mitsubishi, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, Union Carbide, and Xerox, and scores of small Indian firms, many producing textiles. Local firms include National Flour Mills and the National Cement Company. Among the inducements to firms are a large pool of cheap labor, no taxes, no import or export duties, the right to 100 percent foreign ownership, and the right to repatriate profits and capital.

Another major facility in the free zone is the Dubai Dry Docks, owned by the Dubayy government. One of the largest and most modern in the world, the facility has three dry docks that can handle vessels up to 1 million deadweight tons. The dry docks have well-equipped workshops for plate and pipe, machinery, rigging, and electric repair, as well as a sophisticated laboratory. Completed in 1979, the docks lay idle, incurring substantial maintenance costs, until 1983 when a contract for an operator was signed. The delay was attributed in part to indecision and the amir's poor health.

By 1985, however, 111 ships with a total capacity of 10 million deadweight tons had been repaired. In 1988 the dock was fully occupied by vessels damaged in the Iran-Iraq War.

Data as of January 1993