The second UAE investment conference Investopia will be held in Abu Dhabi on March 2 next year with the theme ‘Envisioning opportunities in times of change’, said Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy.
The event will take place against the backdrop of supply chain bottlenecks, global inflation, technology disruptions and geopolitical tensions, the minister said on Tuesday, while launching Investopia 2023 in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
“In an ever-changing world, there’s a lot more need for policymakers, investors and businesses to tackle such issues,” Mr Bin Touq said.
“The UAE government is setting solid foundations to support the growth of knowledge-based economies around innovative and future-focused industries. We’re moving forward with an ambitious agenda of bold and deep structural reforms, improved business environment and increased competitiveness.”
The summit would also focus on addressing trade challenges, said the economic development department undersecretary Rashed Al Blooshi.
“The rapidly evolving trajectory the world is on requires joint action to address concerns around trade imbalances, ESG [environmental, social and governance] and food security, among many other elements,” Mr Al Blooshi said.
The rise of emerging markets and the sluggish growth of traditional economic powers have created new opportunities and the UAE will delve deeper into these opportunities during Investopia 2023, he added.
Investopia is one of the events within the first set of the Projects of the 50 developmental and economic initiative announced by the UAE government in 2021 to accelerate the nation’s growth over the next five decades. The summit’s inaugural event took place in March this year along with the World Government Summit in Dubai.
The UAE, the Arab world’s second-biggest economy, is exploring future investment opportunities. This comes after the Covid-19 pandemic transformed economies, paved the way for new sectors, hastened the use of advanced technology and raised the need for sustainable growth.
The country ranked 19th globally in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $20.7 billion in 2021, the Ministry of Economy reported.
“Before the pandemic, the UAE’s economy was focused mostly on oil and gas," Mr Bin Touq said. "Tourism and aviation each contributed about 15 per cent to the economy. So, 60 per cent of our economy got hit on day one of Covid-19.
“Our government has worked tirelessly to have one of the fastest recoveries from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Investopia aims to increase FDI flows to the UAE’s new and future sectors to Dh550bn ($149.76bn) by 2030 and to Dh1 trillion by 2050, he said.
The inaugural Investopia attracted 800 participants from around the world. Some of the most successful global businesses took part in discussions about new markets.
The event initiated business dialogues across 12 economic sectors, such as education, renewable energy, supply chain, logistics, space, agritech and health care, Mr Bin Touq said.
It featured discussions with policymakers, investors and ministers in India, Morocco, Switzerland and the US. The dialogues addressed issues affecting the global business environment and explored key sectors to watch out for in the coming years, Mr Bin Touq added.
“The private sector needs to be more ambitious and take more risks in testing new technologies," he said. "The UAE has announced a lot of opportunities for testing new technologies for future investors."
Referring to initiatives to attract and retain talent such as the golden visa and green visa, the minister said the best economies were those with the best talent.
Government officials, investors and other stakeholders also discussed business trends and the UAE’s investment outlook during a panel discussion at the event.
"We are working with various stakeholders to redefine our sectors of focus to attract investors after the Covid-19 pandemic," said Mohammed Al Musharkkh, chief executive of Invest in Sharjah, the emirate’s FDI office.
The sectors identified with a 10-year focus include advanced manufacturing, health and well-being, adventure and eco-tourism, innovation and human capital, mobility and logistics, agro-food technology and green technology, he added.
Stuart Isted, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, said there was massive growth towards the metaverse in the UAE. He said traditional businesses were moving towards these new spaces.
“This is underpinned by a very welcoming legislative environment,” Mr Isted said.
Paschalis Bouchoris, regional managing director of investment company BlackRock, said the risk of recession had increased over the summer.
"Central banks in developed markets will overtighten. There is pain in store for most investments and risk assets," he said.
“Investors need to adjust their strategies amid strong volatility and persistent inflation.”
Meanwhile, the region has a golden opportunity in terms of attracting investments, with Egypt hosting Cop27 in November this year and the UAE hosting Cop28 next year, said Sufyan Al Issa, regional head of Mena at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.
“In the Mena region, there is $265bn worth of investment opportunities in climate-related businesses,” he said.