Abu Dhabi aims to attract more foreign direct investment into its economy this year on the back of new government policies to support businesses and industries, a senior official has said.
“We are talking about the law that guarantees 100 per cent ownership, we are talking about the Musataha programme that would enable international players to rent land and then we have incentive programmes related to in-country value and utility tariffs” that will boost FDI into the economy, Rashed Alblooshi, undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department for Economic Development, told The National.
“We also have a programme to double the contribution of the industrial sector, which will attract more FDI into Abu Dhabi.”
Mr Alblooshi made the comments on the sidelines of a briefing on the upcoming Fortune Global Forum Abu Dhabi 2023 event.
Abu Dhabi has launched a number of new initiatives in recent years as it focuses on diversifying its economy away from oil.
In June, it launched a new industrial strategy to boost the contribution of the sector to the overall economy. As part of the strategy, it is investing Dh10 billion ($2.72 billion) across six industrial programmes to more than double the size of the emirate’s manufacturing sector to Dh172 billion by 2031.
The emirate also announced measures such as rent rebates, discounts on utility bills and loan guarantee packages to support businesses and stimulate economic growth during the pandemic.
In October 2021, Abu Dhabi also launched a Dh5 billion IPO fund to encourage and support private companies to list on the local stock market.
“The beauty of having a business in Abu Dhabi is the stability of its economy … the stability of its policies and the vision that we have,” Mr Alblooshi said.
Abu Dhabi’s economy expanded by 11.2 per cent in the first six months of 2022 on an annual basis, driven by a robust performance of the oil and non-oil sectors, despite mounting global macroeconomic challenges, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said in November, citing data released by the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.
The size of the emirate’s real gross domestic product at constant prices surpassed Dh543 billion at the end of the six-month period.
The value of non-oil GDP grew by Dh28.4 billion to Dh273 billion at the end of the first half of 2022.
“If you look at the first half of 2022, the non-oil was up by 11.7 [per cent] and the whole GDP up by 11.2 [per cent] and that shows the momentum of the growth,” Mr Alblooshi said.
While he did not disclose projected growth numbers for Abu Dhabi’s economy in 2023, he said he is “very positive, very strong numbers will be discussed”.
In May last year, S&P had forecast that Abu Dhabi’s real GDP growth would accelerate to more than 5 per cent in 2022, with real GDP reaching 2019 levels in 2023.
“We know that oil is driving our economy, however, we have a very clear vision to diversify our economy away from oil,” Mr Alblooshi said.
“We have concentrated on different sectors and we believe the impact of these sectors is going to be high on our economy.”
The sectors the emirate is focusing on include financial services, ICT (information and communications technology), AgriTech, healthcare, tourism and manufacturing.
The recent Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements deals signed by the UAE government with different countries including India, Indonesia and Israel will also have a positive impact on Abu Dhabi’s economy, he added.