The UAE explained: What are the new plans for the economy and why?

A raft of reforms were announced on a milestone day aimed at shoring up the future prosperity of the UAE


Abu Dhabi city seen from Etihad Tower.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Jennifer Gnana
Section:  BZ
Powered by automated translation

On Sunday, the government announced the latest developments to its previously announced stimulus package, as well as a budget increase for the upcoming year and the introduction of a visa for retirees.

Just how will these changes affect you? Here's everything you need to know:

Tomorrow 2021 

What is it? Tomorrow 2021 is the banner name applied yesterday to Abu Dhabi's sweeping economic reforms that were announced in June.

Why? Government officials were set a 90-day deadline to put economic reforms in motion as part of a Dh50 billion stimulus package over three years. The aim is to diversify Abu Dhabi beyond its reliance on oil income and cement its status as a growing world power.

What is the plan? Tomorrow 21 is a four-point plan to shape the economic future of the capital. The idea is to:

  • Stimulate business and investment, as well as promote economic development for the private sector and small businesses and support industry projects for the renewable energy sector.
  • Improve the lives of UAE nationals by launching new housing projects and providing quality education at an affordable cost.
  • Develop the knowledge sector by encouraging technology companies, supporting research and development centres, and training and developing talent and expertise.
  • Enhance the quality of life for all through improved cultural, sporting and transport initiatives

How will it affect jobs? The package will also include the creation of 10,000 new jobs for Emiratis in private and public sector over the next five years, while dual licenses will be available for companies in Abu Dhabi free zones to allow them to work outside free zones and bid for government tenders.

When will it start? The impact of the Dh50 billion investment programme will soon be felt. Dh20b will be ploughed into the economy as part of a 2019 development package.


Read more:

Abu Dhabi's plans to liberalise the economy are progressing fast — but how are other countries planning for post-oil?

Wide-ranging changes to boost UAE's economy and Government revenue

Why Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's new economic plans are a game changer for Abu Dhabi and its people

Abu Dhabi’s journey towards celebrating the last barrel of oil gathers pace


Visa changes: Giving expats a stake in the UAE's future

There are around 8 million non-Emirati residents living and working in the UAE and their key place in society is being recognised by new reforms rolled out by the UAE cabinet on Sunday.

Who is eligible? Non-Emiratis over 55 can remain in the UAE for five years post retirement should they have properties worth at least Dh2 million, have at least Dh1 million in savings or receive an active income of more than Dh20,000 per month.

The move comes after major changes to the country's immigration system, which will allow key workers such as doctors and engineers and their families to apply for long-term visas for up to 10 years.

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , JULY 20  – 2018 :- Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan , Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces and  Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum , Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai arriving  to receive the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For News. Story by John

Reducing business costs

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid also announced support at the Cabinet meeting for the industrial sector by agreeing to reduce electricity fees for UAE factories.

Under the plans, larger factories would receive a 29 per cent reduction in tariffs while small and medium-sized units would have fees reduced by between 10 and 22 per cent.

Budget increases

On top of the other reforms, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed announced on Sunday a Dh1.97b budget increase for the current financial year with money taken from the country's general reserves. It includes an additional budget of Dh21 million for the Office of the Minister of Tolerance, a Dh6.82m increase for the UAE General Sports Authority, an extra Dh3.917m for the National Media Council and a Dh3.5m boost for the Emirates Space Agency.

The injection of funds has been welcomed by one of the leading figures spearheading the UAE's space initiatives.