The UAE's leadership supports the transformation of the country's industrial sector into a global manufacturing hub, says Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.
The Arab world's second-largest economy has emerged from the pandemic stronger, helped by the country’s strategy to further strengthen its industrial sector to boost economic resilience in the faces of global challenges, Dr Al Jaber told the Make it in the Emirates forum on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
"The Covid pandemic and recent geopolitical challenges have disrupted our supply chains and affected the global economy; an experience from which we extracted many lessons," he said.
“One of the most important lessons we learned is that regardless of global economic conditions, enhancing self-sufficiency and resilience in vital sectors such as, food, healthcare, and the sectors critical to ensuring business continuity and economic growth, is critical.”
The sustainable economic development and leveraging on the UAE’s value proposition to build a strong industrial sector and localising supply chains remain at the heart of the country’s industrial strategy.
“The UAE, with its strong will, resources, capabilities and effective policies, is capable of building a global economic base," he said.
"By achieving self-sufficiency in a number of vital industries, we will enhance the resilience of our economy in the face of global crises and safeguard the UAE from global economic challenges.
"Based on the vision of our leadership, we worked on developing and launching a national industrial strategy, in consultation with all relevant parties in the industrial sector, including government and private sector companies, investors, and financial institutions through a transparent dialogue and various workshops, studies, and international and regional benchmarking."
The UAE last year launched its industrial strategy “Operation 300bn” to position it as a global industrial hub by 2031. The 10-year comprehensive roadmap focuses on increasing the industrial sector's contribution to the country's gross domestic product from Dh133 billion in 2021 to Dh300bn in 2031.
The strategy focuses on boosting production in 11 priority sectors, supporting the growth of national industries, attracting foreign investment, modernising legislation and ensuring availability of dedicated financing for local industrial companies.
"We have worked closely with the Emirates Development Bank to provide competitive financing solutions supporting the growth of industrial companies. And so far, the bank has provided Dh2bn to finance priority sectors. The Ministry is looking forward to more competitive financing programs through the various financial institutions and authorities in the country," Dr Al Jaber said.
EDB, founded in 2011 after a merger between Emirates Industrial Bank and the Real Estate Bank, aims to provide Dh30bn in financing over the next five years. It is funding companies in the priority sectors, including health care, infrastructure, food security and technology, and aims to generate 25,000 jobs in the next five years.
“Now is the time to step up our engagement collectively within the sector," Dr Al Jaber said.
“We are here to build on the industrial strategy that our visionary leadership created to ensure resilience, competitiveness and continuing the growth of our economy.”
The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has already launched the National In-Country Value scheme that aims to boost the private sector's participation in the economy, diversify output and localise critical parts of the supply chain.
There are more than 300 products available in the 11 priority sectors for local manufacturers as “primary targets for localising our industry”, Dr Al Jaber said.
More than Dh40bn has so far been redirected into the national economy through the in-country value scheme. Currently, 45 government entities, six leading national companies, and 5,500 local industrial companies are participating in the programme.
“We have put together all incentives and enablers to help you take advantage of multiple business and industrial opportunities,” Dr Al Jaber said.
“We have brought together with national champion companies who are offering Dh110bn ($30bn) in purchasing agreements.”
The UAE's industrial sector has grown rapidly over the past few years, despite global economic slowdown and pandemic-driven headwinds. Last year, 220 new factories went into service and began production as the government rolled out measures to improve the ease of doing business and ensuring the industrial sector's access to financing.
“Our industrial strategy aims to create an attractive business environment for local and international industrial investors, support the growth of national industries, enhance their competitiveness and empower innovation and the adoption of advanced technologies," Dr Al Jaber said.
"It also aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as a global destination for industries of the future.
“Our objective is to safeguard our national progress, leverage the legislative system, attract investments to our industrial sector, support local manufacturing and create growth opportunities, with an ultimate goal of empowering our national economy and increasing the industrial sector’s contribution to our GDP to more than Dh300bn by 2031,” he said.