Abu Dhabi’s drive to accelerate its economic growth will come under the banner of Tomorrow 2021, the Crown Prince revealed on Sunday, in what marks the culmination of a summer of reforms aimed at preparing the emirate for a more prosperous future.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the plan includes “50 initiatives that reflect the priorities of citizens, residents and investors”. The move is part of an action plan to generate a vision of the future economy in a post-oil world that aims to stimulate investment, create jobs, spur innovation and improve the overall quality of life in the emirate.
Government officials were set a 90-day deadline on June 5 to put in motion wide-ranging economic reforms ordered as part of a Dh50 billion stimulus package over three years.
“We have approved a three year, Dh50 billion budget for the Abu Dhabi Government Accelerators Program ‘Ghadan 21’,” the Crown Prince wrote on Twitter.
“Dh20 billion will be allocated to the 2019 development package.
“The aim of ‘Ghadan 21’ is to enhance the competitiveness of Abu Dhabi, based on 4 main tenets – business & investment, society, knowledge & innovation, and lifestyle.”
“The first phase includes over 50 initiatives that reflect the priorities of citizens, residents and investors.
“We have commissioned the launch of the 1st phase of ‘Ghadan 21’ with the aim of improving the business environment. We are confident in the success of ‘Ghadan 21’ and of our partnerships with the community and business sector.”
In recent months, a series of changes have been unveiled in tandem with the Dh50 billion in planned spending, from allowing start-ups to launch without a physical address to making it easier for free zone businesses to trade onshore.
Tajer Abu Dhabi’s ‘golden package’ – which allows companies to reduce costs by letting them obtain licences to trade without a physical office – is being expanded to Gulf nationals and UAE residents, for example.
At the same time, sweeping changes to the country’s immigration system were announced by the Cabinet, making key workers such as doctors and engineers and their families eligible for long-stay visas for up to 10 years.
Sheikh Mohammed on Sunday set out four economic objectives to prepare the emirate for the future, national news agency Wam reported.
The first is to stimulate business and investment and promote economic development for the private sector and small businesses, as well as supporting industry projects for the renewable energy sector.
The second is ensuring the employment of UAE nationals, launching new housing projects, protecting quality education at reasonable cost, and guaranteeing that citizens are well provided for.
The third focuses on developing the knowledge sector by encouraging technology companies, supporting research and development centres, and training and developing talent and expertise.
The fourth goal is to enhance the quality of life in Abu Dhabi by improving recreational, cultural, sporting and active initiatives, as well as developing infrastructure including transportation, communication and urban development.
Analysts said financial investment in the public sector will serve to boost private companies, including struggling small businesses.
“Any time the government starts to expand its spending you will start to see stronger growth”, said Tariq Qaqish, head of asset management at the financial services group Menacorp.
“This is an additional budget in effect and it is not an inconsequential amount.
“The question now is exactly which sectors will be invested in.
“This has to be done quickly to bring back confidence.
“Companies in Abu Dhabi have had to lay off people and there has been a knock-on effect on property prices, and occupancy and so on.”
Emirati businessman Hamad Al Junaibi, who runs a fitness business, said the cash injection would strengthen Abu Dhabi’s local economy and shore up confidence.
“It will encourage more people to invest business here, especially since we are going through a critical situation with regards to oil prices, worldwide,” he said.
He said he plans to expand and move into the manufacturing of gym equipment.
“We are looking for investors at the moment because it will be a big project,” he said.
Originally published on The National on 16/09/2018