The Department of Economic Development - Abu Dhabi organized yesterday, April 6th, the first virtual edition of the "The Future Economy" forum under the theme "Abu Dhabi Economy... The Leaders’ Vision for a Sustainable Future,” with the participation of 30 speakers including leaders, senior officials, experts, and economic advisors, in the presence of more than a thousand participants from 70 countries; along with 80 local entities and companies from Abu Dhabi that participated in the virtual exhibition.
The event served as a powerful platform in discussing how the Abu Dhabi government policies and emergency measures taken have succeeded in implementing to stimulate private sector companies, achieve business sustainability, and attract more investments in light of the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis that affected the economic landscape of the countries of the world.
In his welcome remarks, H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said: “One of the principal aims was to support companies through challenging economic times. This included allocating… AED 3 billion for the credit guarantee program to stimulate financing for SMEs and AED 1 billion for financial markets. Resilient Investment loan was also enacted to maintain Abu Dhabi’s economic prosperity.”
H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa stressed the Abu Dhabi government’s keenness to create more investment opportunities by encouraging innovation, research and development, and raising the level of the workforce in the private sector in light of Abu Dhabi’s continued implementation of its strategies to preserve its gains and achieve growth of the emirate’s economy at a rate ranging between 6 to 8% during the next two years, thanks to the growth of the oil sector, government spending, financial services and foreign direct investment.
“At the same time, the emirate’s economic strategy involves targeting specific economic sectors in which government entities can partner with the private sector, in order to enhance the growth and increase their contribution to the emirates GDP. This will be bolstered by new investments and implementation of development projects that enhance the governments competitiveness regionally and internationally,” emphasized H.E. Al Hammadi.
His Excellency Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy said: “The country's economic priorities for the next phase are based on achieving the fastest economic recovery and restoring growth rates according to a gradual and studied path of transformation towards a sustainable economic and development model based on investment in knowledge, innovation and creativity that establish the pillars and strengthening the UAE's position as a regional and global destination for minds and talents.”
H.E. Al Marri explained that in order to fulfill these ambitious goals, 10 main directions can be identified that serve this direction, including:
Developing the entrepreneurship sector and small and medium enterprises;
Developing new business partnerships
Attracting more foreign investments, especially in the sectors of the new economy;
Establishing the UAE's position as a global destination for attracting talents and minds;
Working to enhance the ease of doing business in the country;
Reducing business costs
Engaging the private sector in developing economic policies that support it
Raising the level of coordination and integration among government efforts at the federal and local levels;
Developing flexible economic policies in a way that serves the state’s orientations and contributes to bringing about the required transformations in the economic environment, business climate, trade and investment, benefiting the national economy and enhancing its competitiveness regionally and globally.
H.E. Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, the Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said: “We know that 51% of our economy relies on oil and 49% on non-oil sectors. Therefore, the DED is keen to focus its strategic plan for the coming years on developing non-oil sectors, especially promising strategic sectors such as industry, agriculture, tourism, energy, health, education, SMEs, technology and innovation."
His Excellency explained that Abu Dhabi government is keen to provide capabilities for current and targeted foreign investors, as the department works to facilitate the investor's journey to start their investment activity, through easy access to the market, easy export of their products, and easy access to their raw materials to start the processing; which are important pillars they are working to develop to achieve sustainable business in Abu Dhabi.
In its Conference sessions, “The Future Economy” addressed the needs of investors, startups, SMEs, entrepreneurs, and Special Economic Zones to support its overall business environment and shape sustainable strategies to build a stronger economy post-pandemic. The interactive forum helped identify risks, challenges, and opportunities in various sectors and discussed strategies towards building a more robust and resilient economy.
“The Abu Dhabi Experience” session featured different businesses and discussed the vital factors that make Abu Dhabi an ideal city to set up a business and expand. A group of experts and advisors participated from UAE International Investors Council, Tabreed, EGA, Boston Consulting Group.
The session “Accelerating Digital Transformation of the Economy & Instilling a Culture of Leadership and Innovation Among the Youth” highlighted the initiatives and measures taken by the government and the private sector to boost and contribute towards the digital transformation of the economy, instilling the culture of leadership and innovation among Emirati youth, with the participation of officials from Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), ADIB, Huawei Middle East, Accenture, and Takamul Academy for Talented Children Development
“Abu Dhabi Free Zones Attraction” session addressed how Special Economic Zones in the city can kick start economic growth, diversify economies, and trigger Industry 4.0 developments. The session was attended by chief executives from Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority, twofour54 Abu Dhabi & Image Nation Abu Dhabi (INAD), and Al Tamimi & Co.
“Strengthening the Startup Ecosystem in Abu Dhabi” session tackled how to strengthen and boost the startup ecosystem in Abu Dhabi; with the participation of Microsoft for StartUps MEA , NYU Abu Dhabi, startAD, Lamsa, Mubadala Investment Company, MidChains, and Bayzat.
The session “Made in Abu Dhabi – Empower SME Futurists” discussed the commitments of Abu Dhabi government entities and the private sector to strengthen SMEs' role in economic development by enabling them to contribute effectively to the emirate’s gross domestic product.
Likewise, “The Future Economy” was participated by several industrial companies in Abu Dhabi as it held the “Made in Abu Dhabi Virtual Exhibition” that served as a platform for SMEs and startups in the emirate to showcase their products and services.