Abu Dhabi is eyeing double-digit annual growth in foreign direct investments through the newly established Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio) as the emirate continues to diversify its economy.
From 2009 to 2016, Abu Dhabi attracted Dh95 billion in foreign investments, with an average growth of 8 per cent a year, a rate which Khalifa Bin Salem Al Mansouri, the undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said he wanted to push beyond 10 per cent.
"We want to have double-digit investment growth because we believe Abu Dhabi was not really open for investment previously," Mr Al Mansouri told The National at event on Tuesday evening to mark inauguration of the new investment body. "Now the message is Abu Dhabi is open for investment; investors are welcome," he said without giving a break down of the latest annual FDI figures.
UAE leads in the race to the post-oil, knowledge-based economy
While Abu Dhabi already has a number of offices promoting investment opportunities in certain sectors, it never had a single entity to facilitate the needs of international investors under one umbrella, Mr Al Mansouri said.
Through Adio, foreign investors will be able to explore investment opportunities, conduct feasibility studies and keep abreast with the latest rules and regulations governing FDI. The office will also facilitate agreements between investors and the different government and semi-government entities in the emirate, he said.
Among the sectors that the investment body would promote to foreign investors are education, health, tourism, financial services, manufacturing and logistics - all of which are essential to government's agenda of boosting economic diversity.
"We are open to any ideas," Mr Al Mansouri said. "Entrepreneurs are welcome, institutional investors are welcome."
The emirate, like its Arabian Gulf peers has been trying to transform the economy and cut its dependence on oil revenues to fuel growth.
FDI are high on government’s agenda and it is seeking partnerships with major players , especially in energy and industrial sector to boost productivity. The three-year slump in oil prices has added urgency to the government’s efforts to open up and streamline foreign investments.
The Economy Minister Sultan Al Mansouri told The National in August that the draft investment law, which addresses FDIs, has been submitted to legislative bodies for approval. Once passed, it will allow foreigners to hold majority stakes, if not full ownership, in a number of industries.
The Ministry of Economy is also working on a number of regulations simultaneously to help increase productivity of the economy and boost the contribution of the non-oil sector to 80 per cent by 2021 from current around 70 per cent level.
The undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic development said that Abu Dhabi Investment Office was pushing for the passing of the new legislation as it would be a catalyst for an increase in foreign direct investments.