A massive Dh50 billion stimulus package for Abu Dhabi has been announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince.
Officials have been given just 90 days to create a detailed execution plan for the package, which seeks to transform the ease of doing business, and bring lasting economic benefits to Emiratis, residents and investors.
At the heart of the announcement are 10 initiatives, with the aim of accelerating the economy over the next three years.
They include allowing people to officially work from home for the first time, with a new licencing system that drops the current requirement for an office or work space for two years
A comprehensive review of building regulations for both private and commercial property construction will be carried out, to reducing costs for developers and encourage urban development.
Sheikh Mohammed has also ordered a review of the length of time the public sector takes to pay private contractors, including fines that can accumulate in the healthcare and education sectors as a result of construction delays caused by slow or non-payment.
The Executive Council has been given a deadline of early September to draw up a detailed execution plan, with initiatives that will cover infrastructure and legislative projects, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and industrial and social projects.
Sheikh Mohammed is stressing the importance of supporting the development of the local economy and creating jobs in Abu Dhabi.
This will include at least 10,000 new jobs for Emiratis in both the public and private sector, with an emphasis on promoting partnerships between the two sectors, and establishing them by the end of the year.
There will be more support for local industrial production, and for small and medium sized businesses to improve their competitiveness both locally and in the region.
Companies already operating in Abu Dhabi free zones will be offered dual licences that will allow them to also operate outside the free zones, and to compete for Government tenders.
The new home work licences will also be accompanied by an instant licencing system for most commercial licences and all Government services.
A new body, to be called Ghadan, Arabic for tomorrow, will seek out new technologies and investments that will speed up economic diversification.
Also known as the Abu Dhabi Accelerators and Advanced Industries Council, its role will to be attract and support technologies and investment that will ensure the future development of the economy both locally and in the region.
On the issue of slow payments for contracts, Sheikh Mohammed has ordered the formation of a special committee, headed by the Executive Office and the Department of Finance, to oversee all relevant and related procedures.
The stimulus package also highlights the importance of tourism in establishing Abu Dhabi as a global destination that includes not just short term visits, but investment and longer term residence.
The Crown Prince has ordered more development of eco-tourism, and programmes both on land on water. They will include establishing camping villages and a variety of areas dedicated to recreation sports.
The 10-step stimulus plan
- Permanent home licences that will except the requirement of having an office or work space for two years.
- Instant licensing for most commercial license types and all Government services.
- New speedy payments for private sector contractors and a review of fines incurred by delays they cause.
- A cost-cutting review of building regulations for infrastructure, residential properties, commercial and industrial sectors.
- The establishment of Abu Dhabi Accelerators and Advanced Industries Council, called Ghadan, to identify new technologies and investments that will boost the future economy.
- Developing eco-tourism, creating camping villages and areas for recreational sports areas.
- Promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors and accelerating projects between the two by the end of 2018.
- Creating at least 10,000 jobs for Emiratis in the private and public sectors over the next five years.
- Encouraging and organising local production and supporting SMEs to boost their competitiveness locally and regionally.
- Dual licences for companies in Abu Dhabi free zones to allow them to work outside the free zones and bid for government tenders.