UAE has measures in place to face any crisis, say top officials

Economic diversification, development of non-oil sectors, attracting global talent, offering support to the private sector helped the country to continue on a growth trajectory

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 11:56 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 12:07 AM

The UAE and Abu Dhabi have mechanisms in place to manage and sort out any global economic headwinds, top officials said during a business event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“Whenever any crisis happens, we always prepare. We always have the right stimulus, the right programme, the right attitude, in terms of being agile. Whether it’s putting new regulations, policies, exploring new frontiers, I think during Covid-19, there were a lot of new frontiers that were explored, like 100 per cent foreign ownership, golden visa, the full regulatory revamp of the corporate law. So, there were a lot of changes that were put into effect,” Sameh Al Qubaisi, director-general of economic affairs at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), said at the Abu Dhabi Economic Summit.

Economic diversification, development of non-oil sectors, attracting global talent, offering support to the private sector are among measures that are helping the UAE to continue on a growth trajectory.

He stressed that the UAE capital’s diversification strategy is paying off. “Abu Dhabi’s GDP grew 10.5 per cent in the first nine months of 2022 — the highest rate in the Mena region (compared to the same period of 2021). Our non-oil GDP grew by 10.3 per cent by the end of the third quarter of 2022,” Al Qubaisi said. The focus has been on non-oil sectors like fintech, agtech, tourism, ICT, healthcare, pharma etc, he added.

In the past, Abu Dhabi launched a Dh5 billion IPO Fund to encourage more private sector companies to list on the local stock market. The Abu Dhabi Government, as part of its Dh10 billion industrial strategy, aims to expand its manufacturing sector to more than double its current size, to hit Dh172 billion and create 13,600 skilled jobs by 2031. “The industrial strategy works to enhance the sector’s competitiveness by focusing on ease of doing business, large-scale industry 4.0 adoption, and market openness.”

Against global trends, inflation in the UAE has dropped from the last quarter of 2022. “The estimate for this year is much lower. We are serious about inflation. We try to take all measures to help companies,” Al Qubaisi said.

UAE is in a fortunate position

While preparing for the future market, the UAE has been encouraging Emiratis to join the private sector through Nafis scheme, Al Qubaisi highlighted, investing in programmes like reskilling and upskilling, taking several steps to reduce cost of setting up businesses, and aiming to become a hub of global talent by offering Golden Visas.

The UAE, Al Qubaisi underlined, is in a very “fortunate position”. “I think it’s the unknown that keeps us always on our toes. But it’s a good thing. Because we know whenever a reversal of changes comes, we have the mechanism to come up with the right policy, changes required to adapt to that new status quo,” he said, and added: “We learn from experience. No one is resilient, but we are able to move quickly and sort it out.”

Transport, electric grid connectivity

Issam Abousleiman, country director of GCC countries, Mena, the World Bank, underscored the importance of connecting through transport and the electric grid, which will ensure greater growth and development. “The region lacks competitiveness in trading with each other.”

Stressing on the significance of regional policy, politics and physical infrastructure, Abousleiman expressed hope that the GCC Railway, once functional, and then getting connected to Europe will “increase competitiveness” of the entire region.

“This place has the cheapest production of electricity anywhere in the world from renewables. Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia produce electricity from solar at one cent per kilowatt hour, that’s not seen anywhere else in the world,” Abousleiman said and noted that if the policy in the region gets coordinated, it will have a huge “positive implication” for the GCC and Mena.

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