The UAE’s key focus for the next decade will be on growing its industrial sector and achieving greater self-sufficiency, said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
On the second day of the World Government Summit, he said the pandemic had shown UAE decision-makers how few sources of food and medicines were produced in the Emirates.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic helped governments to realise the importance of the ability to manufacture products locally.
“We need to know what the key pillars are, which the state will focus on in the coming years, and the industrial sector is key to our country,” Sheikh Mansour said.
“When we entered the pandemic we realised its importance and there was pressure on local industry, with an increase in demands on local production.
“We were a little oblivious to the industrial sector. If we compare our revenue of the industrial sector to our GDP, 10 years ago it was 8 per cent and today the growth is 9 per cent and this is sad and shameful.
“We have to focus more on the industrial sector and support it even more. We have ambitious projects and we must set the priorities.”
Last year, the UAE launched the Operation 300bn strategy in hopes that it would transform the country into an industrial hub by 2031.
The strategy supports spending on local products and local suppliers, as well as promoting investment in research and development and incentivising adoption of advanced technology in the UAE.
It will focus on expanding sectors including petrochemicals, plastics and metals, and further develop food, water and health care industrial bases.
Sheikh Mansour said the new priorities require “raising the level of education” in the country, and that the “Emirati society must be open to foreign investments”.
“I hope our fellow citizens will participate in the foreign investments that we’ll see in the coming years,” he said.
“There are several priorities for the industrial sector, such as food, pharmaceuticals and the military industry.
“We have partnerships for the food industry with very important countries and they’ve started the knowledge transfer.
“For the pharmaceuticals industry, we have factories and an example of that is the Covid-19 vaccines we made here.”
He said that the "UAE is transparent" and a country that foreign investors “can rely and depend on”.
“No investor will find any legal violations or any surprises that could harm or impact their investment.
“There will be co-operation between the investors and the UAE.
“The laws of the UAE are clear and if they need to be modified or adjusted, they will be. These laws will serve the interests of our country.
“My message for our people is to be positive and know that their leadership is very keen to focus on citizens and their productivity. They can benefit from the industrial sector and this is an opportunity for us to diversify our sectors.”