How the UAE and Mubadala's pledge to economic diversification can help shape the future

The right ecosystems and partnerships helped ensure resilience and agility during the Covid-19 pandemic

Emirati women constitute about a third of the staff of Strata, Mubadala's aerospace manufacturing subsidiary in Al Ain. Delores Johnson / The National
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As we drive towards the end of 2021, we are optimistic about the future. With borders opening and economies growing, we are witnessing positive signs that the impact of the global pandemic is diminishing. As we look to the future, we can acknowledge that over the past few years the UAE, with Mubadala alongside, has had to become more agile and shift its strategy to navigate a set of challenges.

We have witnessed the UAE’s agility in the past year alone after launching a major initiative to ensure the enhancement and diversification of its economy continues at pace. The UAE set clear targets to increase the country’s industrial sector’s contribution to the economy to $82 billion by 2031 from $36bn, which aligns with its Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) strategy. This, in turn, serves to strengthen the UAE's position as a global hub and increase the industrial sector’s economic contribution by advancing innovation and future technologies.

Mubadala has had to show similar resilience and flexibility to steer through the challenges faced. Both Mubadala and the UAE have the right ecosystems in place and the right partnerships to ensure we push economic diversification forward. And as we look to the future, our aspirations remain ambitious.

As a global investor, with the UAE as our home, we stood side-by-side with the government as we collectively responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. There has never been a more important time for businesses, healthcare organisations and governments to come together and help communities by tackling the critical challenges we have all been facing.

We have followed through on our commitment and focus on the UAE, supporting the country to continually outperform in sectors vital to its growth. We have remained steadfast in creating and investing in UAE champions that are going to ensure the country comes out of the pandemic stronger and more resilient than before. Our group companies Masdar, Emirates Global Aluminum, Strata and Yahsat are just some of the champions that are leading the recovery across the UAE’s ever-growing manufacturing sector.

Our new investment mandate is focused on innovation and future-focused sectors such as life sciences, artificial intelligence and, more importantly, healthcare technologies that contribute to sustainable development.

The emergence of a global pandemic presented us with an opportunity to adapt our business and restructure our organisation to capitalise on world-wide evolution, innovation and cutting-edge technological disruption. This new model allows us to leverage our strengths and subject matter expertise in a variety of sectors, geographies and asset classes. This change has led us to continue to deliver on our economic diversification mandate as we have done successfully over the past two decades.

In line with our values and approach to responsible investing, we continue to accelerate our investments and develop partnerships across tailwind sectors, where we have high conviction and where we see several positive short-term and long-term trends. In 2020 alone, at the height of the pandemic, we deployed a total of $29.4bn in investments, including in technology and life sciences, sectors vital to the future of the UAE and Mubadala.

As a result of the flexibility in our business approach, we were able to utilise our assets’ knowledge and experience and come together in the fight against Covid-19. Our group companies around the world were role models in this arena and embodied the spirit of partnership and spearheaded efforts in their respective global communities to help in every way possible, and in parallel maintained business agility and resilience to meet real and immediate demands presented by the pandemic.

With every challenge comes an opportunity, or many for that matter. Here in the UAE, Strata partnered with Honeywell to produce high-quality N95 and FFP2 standard face masks. Catering to the community amid stay-at-home directives, we launched a series of innovative services serving to combat the pandemic through Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the Imperial College London Diabetes Center and Healthpoint.

Back in 2020, we were one of the earliest healthcare providers to set up a Covid-19 testing and screening centre, which was established at the National Reference Laboratory in Abu Dhabi.

Another important example, our AI and cloud computing company Group42 (G42) joined with Sinopharm CNBG to produce Hayat-Vax, the first Covid-19 vaccine produced in the UAE to continue the global fight against the pandemic.

These are a just a few examples of the adaptability, resilience and agility that came to light through Mubadala’s companies and withstood the challenging circumstances of a global pandemic that touched the lives of all.

Our investment philosophy has always been built on partnerships and it continues to be our core focus.

As 2021 represented a post-pandemic recovery period, here in Abu Dhabi we are vividly experiencing a boost in economic activity and market movement across the UAE’s financial and investment space.

In Abu Dhabi, Hub71 continues to offer access to expertise and capital to help start-ups and entrepreneurs develop, scale and build transformational businesses. Through Hub71, we play a key role in supporting entrepreneurs and pioneers in multiple vital sectors such as AI, big data, healthcare and advanced manufacturing to build businesses that address current challenges and potential problems of the future.

In parallel, we have supported the UAE’s efforts to become a leading Arab nation in space, starting with launching a space-based work development programme in collaboration with the UAE Space Agency and Lockheed Martin.

We have also previously hosted the Global Aerospace Summit, bringing aspiring pilots, aerospace engineers and scientists one step closer to their ambitions. These partnerships illustrate Mubadala’s position as a global and responsible investor as we witness the positive impacts in these strategic steps forward.

The past two years have been unprecedented. Through the most challenging times, we managed our portfolio by adapting to change and pivoting our focus to sectors with strong tailwinds, continuing our capital deployment in-line with our ever-adapting strategy. The result was clear as we announced the highest total comprehensive income in our history of more than $19.6bn and our assets under management reached more than $243bn. With this approach, we continue to learn, grow and evolve as the global economy shows the green shoots of recovery.

As we look to the future with confidence, our ambition is to double the size of our portfolio. We fully recognise the vital role of partnerships in our growth and welcome collaborations with likeminded, ambitious and future looking partners and investors to work with us in the UAE and beyond.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi is the chief executive of UAE Investments Platform at Mubadala Investment Company

Updated: November 21, 2021, 4:38 AM