Abu Dhabi has taken a seeming proactive measure to boost and diversify the economy of the emirate. To this end, they have established a new government agency and given it more authority to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the emirate.
Stakeholders say two laws were passed by United Arab Emirate (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to firstly formally establish the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), which opened last year, and secondly to regulate partnerships between public and private sectors.
The office is part of Abu Dhabi government’s Ghadan 21 accelerator’s programme, a $13.6 billion investment plan that includes 50 initiatives aimed at stimulating the emirate’s economy. A total of $5.45 billion has been allocated to the 2019 development package.
The initiative, announced by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed, is based on four main tenets: business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation, and lifestyle.
The ADIO’s activities will expand to include key levers to accelerate economic growth such as public-private partnership (PPP) and targeted incentives for Abu Dhabi’s priority sectors such as technology, tourism, and advanced manufacturing.
‘’The formal establishment of ADIO is an important milestone for Abu Dhabi’s economic development’’, said Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Saif Mohamed Al Hajeri.
‘’With a growing, diversified economy, it is essential we continue to attract inward investment from international players. Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s most attractive investment destinations and I am confident that ADIO will drive further progress in line with our economic strategy.’’
Adding, Acting CEO of ADIO, Elham Abdulghafoor Mohamed AlQasim, said ‘’our goal is to channel FDI towards priority sectors and enhance private sector participation in strategic projects where there are growing opportunities.
‘’We want to boost economic growth and competitiveness by executing an ambitious, targeted FDI strategy and driving partnership across the private and public sectors, where there are global precedents of private sector participation in priority public sector projects.’’
The ADIO will implement the FDI strategy through a range of strategic programmes, including the establishment of a ‘PPP Centre of Excellence’. This platform will be designed to deliver best practice and develop attractive investment models for international and local investors, in line with the Government of Abu Dhabi’s economic strategy.
The PPP framework will bolster FDI inflows and enhance the private sector’s participation in key strategic sectors such as technology and the creation of urban infrastructure as well as the provision of services in education, healthcare, housing and transportation.
The ADIO will also support investors in making commitments in line with Abu Dhabi’s economic strategy and work with government and private sector partners to use financial, technical, and regulatory criteria to screen proposed projects and assess their feasibility for PPP.
The UAE accounted for 37% the FDI flows into the Middle East and North Africa region in 2017, while the UAE’s FDI stock has increased from $64 billion to $130 billion since 2010.
In addition, Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 programme and the reform of business and investment regulations is contributing to the advancement of a vibrant commercial ecosystem around key sectors and helping build an attractive FDI environment.
As the gateway for all inward investment into the emirate, ADIO’s mandate includes providing guidance to investors and promoting Abu Dhabi as a world-class investment destination.
With its location at the heart of the Middle East and the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, the emirate already offers unique trade, industry and tourism opportunities.
With a rapidly diversifying economy that is increasingly integrated into global supply chains, a stable and well-capitalised banking sector, a flexible and highly skilled labour force and excellent infrastructure, ADIO will build on these existing economic fundamentals to accelerate FDI and create new opportunities for people of the UAE.