Abu Dhabi outlines pharmaceutical and medical investment opportunities amid Covid-19 pandemic

Emirate identifies 23 areas of investment to spur local production of drugs and medical equipment as part of its Basic Industries Project

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 AUGUST 2020. The DPI Screening facility along the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi which screens travellers for the COVID-19 virus using a blood sample and laser technology. It is a quick blood test and results are out in a matter of minutes. Mohamed Khalid has a test conducted by the trained medical staff. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Nick Webster. Section: National.
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Abu Dhabi has identified 23 opportunities for investment in medical and pharmaceutical industries with the aim of spurring local production and pushing for self-sufficiency in the healthcare sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 23 industrial opportunities, 14 are investments in new areas of production such as face shields, medical gloves and antibiotics, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) told reporters in a virtual conference on Sunday. The nine remaining areas are to develop existing industries such as medical gases, surgical masks and medical beds.

The 23 areas of investment were identified after studying the gap between local consumption and production of supplies, Nabeel Saleh Al-Awlaki, director of the environment, health and safety department at the Industrial Development Office, said during the call.

The study is part of the Basic Industries Project spearheaded by Added to reach self-sufficiency in the healthcare, food and energy sectors. The aim is to supply basic products to the domestic market, boost local production, create new investment areas and increase the non-oil sector's contribution to the economy.

Demand for medical supplies has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic and some local manufacturing capacity in the UAE has been converted to meet this need. Strata, Mubadala Investment Company’s aerospace manufacturing unit, is looking to further diversify into the health technology sector, after producing N95 masks in partnership with Honeywell in May.

Abu Dhabi has issued a total of 23 licenses for medical manufacturing in the emirate for investments valued at nearly Dh2 billion, Rashed Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of Added, said in a statement. Of these, 10 new facilities are currently under construction with an investment value of Dh932 million. The remaining 13 have already reached production status, with an investment value of Dh1.069bn.

The emirate is offering local manufacturers in these vital industries incentives including customs exemptions, industrial licence exemption fees and reductions on electricity tariffs to industrial companies to reduce operational costs.

Currently, local producers in the UAE cover five per cent of the local consumption of healthcare products, Dr Sahar Fahmy, acting manager of the drug and medical products department at the Department of Health, said.

Identifying the 23 areas of investment in pharmaceuticals and healthcare under the Basic Industries Project was carried out by Added’s Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio), the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).

The areas identified were based on Added’s review of current circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 oubreak, Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of Added said in the statement.

Tariq Bin Hendi, director general of Adio, said the "thriving" healthcare sector offered "sizeable" opportunities for investors.

"The new investment areas represent a wealth of new possibilities for investors and manufacturers in or looking to establish in Abu Dhabi," Mr Bin Hendi said.

Adio is translating the investment areas identified by the Basic Industries Project into business opportunities, connecting investors to relevant local partners and helping to conduct feasibility studies for projects.  It is also looking at policy reforms directly related to the industries identified to ensure long-term, sustainable opportunities for businesses, he said.

The Basic Industries Project is being implemented by Added in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Adio.