How will Emirates Development Bank help the UAE to achieve its Operation 300bn goals?

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, EDB's chairman and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, explains the lender's role in helping deliver the country's new industrial strategy

Tell us about the strategy of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology and how its close collaboration with the Emirates Development Bank will contribute to the UAE’s economic development?

The strategy comprises a comprehensive national programme that aims to drive industrial growth in the UAE – doubling its GDP contribution of Dh133 billion by 2031.

This strategy builds on the UAE’s solid industrial foundation and unique advantages as a logistics, energy and manufacturing hub, to enhance the country’s competitiveness at a regional and global level by boosting productivity, creating new jobs, enhancing local skill sets and increasing national competitiveness.

The programme we have put in place will significantly accelerate the process of economic diversification already under way in key industrial sectors – industries where the UAE already has an established presence and expertise, including energy, petrochemicals, plastics, heavy industries such as aluminium & steel, defence and manufacturing as well as industries that reinforce the country’s resilience and reduce dependence on global supply chains, such as food, agriculture and healthcare in addition to industries of the future, including space, biotech, medi-tech and other sectors that are enabled by Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies.

In large part, the programme is supported by the Emirates Development Bank; that has also launched its strategy and has allocated a portfolio of Dh30bn to support priority sectors by 2025, expanding reach to both UAE nationals and residents. Through this portfolio and EDB’s additional services, we will contribute to financing 13,500 small, medium and large companies and creating over 25,000 jobs.

Moreover, underpinning this strategy is the ‘Make it in the Emirates’ campaign – a first-of-its-kind campaign in the UAE that encourages local and international investors, innovators and developers to benefit from the facilities and incentives offered by the country’s industrial sector, and to fulfil their ambitions of developing, manufacturing and exporting their products. The campaign aims to help enable aspirations and ambitions; something that is very distinctive in the way we operate here in the UAE.

In summary, the ministry will create the enabling environment, the bank will provide financial and non-financial support and the Make it the Emirates campaign will provide local and global engagement and a promotional platform that showcases our current and future industrial sectors as well as the unique value proposition that the UAE offers for all those who choose to do business here.

Tell us more about the Emirates Development Bank's new strategy and how it will support this industrial growth?

Through its new strategy, EDB will be a key driver for economic advancement in the UAE by supporting the national agenda to diversity the economy, empowering industrial growth and preparing for the future.

By 2025, EDB will extend its funding portfolio to Dh30bn to benefit entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs, and large corporates and will contribute to the growth of the UAE’s GDP, enhancing in-country value, productivity and employment in an expanded knowledge-based economy.

EDB will do this by accelerating industrial development and the adoption of advanced technology using these dedicated funds as well as enhancing and supporting the role of small and medium enterprises in the national economy and stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation by providing practical support and guidance to entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs. EDB’s strategy also includes a wider offering such as supply chain, project and long-term finance, an investment arm for start-ups and SMEs (accelerator, equity finance, business growth fund) as well as business advisory services for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies (coaching, consulting, mentoring and market research). This, of course, is in addition to the continued funding of housing for UAE nationals.

The new EDB strategy is aligned with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, and will focus its funding on manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, healthcare and food security.

Can you give us more details about some of the key initiatives that the ministry will be launching?

It's important to note that we were determined that this strategy would be formulated through a practical, ambitious and bottom-up approach. To do that, we engaged with over 200 stakeholders and held over 40 workshops with key members of the public and private sector and conducted over 10 specialised surveys.

Based on those practical and transparent discussions as well as local and global benchmarking and an extensive stock take of the ecosystem, we were able to identify a strategy that is both practical and ambitious in nature and was designed to capture the opportunity created by 4IR.

As such, the initiatives include the updating of the existing industrial law to enhance the business environment for local and international investors in the industrial sector. This law will include flexible conditions to provide opportunities to SMEs and industrial enterprises while allowing foreigners to own 100 per cent of their industrial establishments. We are also establishing a unified digital platform for industrial services and licenses in order to enhance efficiencies.

Moreover, we aim to catalyse industrial development and stimulate the national economy through launching a national in-country value programme in order to increase the demand for UAE products, create new jobs and reduce our reliance on imports. We also plan on expanding and promoting our Made in the Emirates programme to encourage local consumption of UAE-made products and increase their export value

Importantly, we will encourage innovation, and the adoption of advanced technology and 4IR solutions to increase productivity and enhance competitive capabilities in new sectors by setting an advanced technology agenda and by designing programmes to adopt 4IR solutions to boost the output of priority industries.

We also plan on creating a strong foundation to enhance the UAE’s position as a leading global hub for future industries through the establishment of a national R&D ecosystem and by building partnerships with leading providers of Industry 4.0 and advanced technology applications.

And last but certainly not least, we aim to provide access to financing facilities for priority industrial sectors at preferential terms, which is where EDB and other financial institutions come in.

The broad scope of industries we will focus on will include pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, space technology, medical supplies, clean and renewable energy – including hydrogen production – sustainable products and machinery and equipment. Targeted sectors also include the production of rubber and plastics, chemicals and metals. Advanced technologies and electronics and electrical gadgets are other key industries in focus, among others.

What is the UAE’s competitive edge in manufacturing?

The UAE boasts an existing strong industrial base and a vibrant and enabling industrial ecosystem with all the requisite elements to accelerate further growth. The UAE also builds on a proven track record of business and industrial development built on strategic partnerships that deliver growth and innovation.

We enjoy a vastly diverse energy mix at competitive tariffs, we have best-in-class, transport, communications, logistics and services infrastructure as well as multiple industrial and free zones across the Emirates. We are among the top-performing countries in 2020 for economic performance and entrepreneurship, we enjoy a highly trusted credit rating, an advanced transport infrastructure comprising 10 civilian airports, 105 cargo companies and 12 sea and commercial trading ports, boasting a capacity of 17 million tons a year and 80 million tons of cargo tonnage.

More than 5 billion people around the world can fly to the UAE within eight hours, making it a leader in the regional and global logistics sector. We also have a legislative and regularity framework that is among the most competitive in the region.

It is important to also note that many companies in the UAE’s industrial sector have contributed significantly to our progress to date, and they are vital to our continuous efforts to diversify the economy sustainably. In fact, one of the key objectives of the Make it the Emirates campaign is to highlight these success stories to the local and international community.

In combination with all of its elements, be it in the enabling environment set out by the ministry’s strategy, the engine for growth that the EDB strategy will bring to fruition and the Make it in the Emirates campaign that will put a spotlight on the great strides our industrial sector has achieved and the unique value proposition on offer by the UAE, we believe this programme will herald a new era of industrial growth for the UAE.

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