The UAE will increase manufacturing’s contribution to the country's economic output to Dh300 billion over the next decade as it embarks on a national programme to boost local production and create world-beating light and heavy industries.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, announced the launch of "Operation 300bn" on Monday.
It will "achieve a giant leap in the UAE’s industrial sector to become the main driving force of the national economy and lead the journey of our next 50 years with greater confidence and speed," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. "Developing the industrial sector and achieving self-sufficiency in some vital sectors safeguards our economy against emerging global crises."
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said the strategy sets "an ambitious objective to double the industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP and increase the in-country value. The comprehensive national programme builds on the country’s investment benefits to lead a sustainable economic development in line with national priorities for the post-Covid-19 phase".
"The UAE’s Industrial Strategy brings together the private and public sectors to re-imagine the future of industries. It is a determination to build our nation’s knowledge and expertise and forge our path towards long-term sustainable growth that benefits people and planet," said Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on Twitter.
"We need to unify efforts of national teams to achieve the objectives of the strategy and support the country’s sustainable economic diversification efforts," he said.
"The industrial strategy will empower our national industries and lead the country’s efforts to advance the industrial sector as a major driver of the national economy over the next 50 years."
The initiative, which will raise the manufacturing sector's contribution from the current level of Dh133bn, is being led by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology.
It includes a target of establishing 13,500 industrial companies. A ‘Make it in the Emirates’ marketing campaign will also highlight the benefits of being a manufacturer in the country, as well as building the reputation for quality. The announcement included an increase in R&D investment to Dh57bn from Dh21bn in the industrial sector by 2031. That would increase R&D's proportion to GDP to 2 per cent from 1.3 per cent currently.
'Make It In The Emirates' is the UAE's "industrial identity to support domestic products and promote the sector globally, aiming to strengthen the country's industrial competitiveness," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.
"The industrial sector in the UAE has made great strides. With competitive national products we take pride in, our mission is to double our success, increase the in-country value and build an export ecosystem that enhances the global competitiveness of local products," Sheikh Mohammed said.
The Operation Dh300bn and Make it in the Emirates initiatives are part of a shake up of the industrial ecosystem that is expected to include updating legislation and the reduction of red tape.
The overall aim will be to create jobs, stimulate R&D, boost competitiveness and ultimately build resilience by producing more domestically.
The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions on travel and work have highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency including the production of food and medicine.
"The industrial sector is the backbone of large economies, and the UAE has effective resources, policies and leadership to build a global economic base," said Sheikh Mohammed
"We aim to launch new industrial projects in a futuristic framework that creates out-of-the-box solutions to address challenges in a timely manner ... strengthening the industrial sector will establish our economic stability, global status and the future of our next generation," he said.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said it is essential to support youth to adapt to the rapidly-growing technological advancements and "harness their talents" to help expand vital future industrial sectors, Artificial Intelligence, space technologies, energy and pharmaceuticals industries. These efforts, he said, ensure a sustainable economic growth to build a safe and secure future for the next generation.
"The UAE has succeeded in establishing its status as an economic capital in the region and an ideal business landscape with world-class digital infrastructure, services, security and competitive investment benefits," he said.
Operation 300bn was launched in a special event held at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Also in attendance were Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, which is leading the strategy, said on Monday, Operation 300bn aims to boost productivity, create new jobs, enhance local skillsets and increasing national competitiveness.
"The strategy will build on the solid foundation of the UAE’s core competencies and unique advantages as a regional logistics, energy and manufacturing hub to enhance the country’s competitiveness at a regional and global level," Dr Al Jaber said. "It will significantly accelerate the process of economic diversification already underway in key industrial sectors."
These include energy, petrochemicals, plastics, metals and manufacturing as well as those that reinforce the country’s resilience and reduce its dependence on global supply chains, such as food, agriculture, water, and healthcare, he said.
The industries of the future, including space, biotech, medi-tech and other sectors that are enabled by Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, are also in focus, Dr Al Jaber said.
"A key enabler of the strategy will be updating the existing law that regulates industrial affairs in the UAE to encourage local entrepreneurs and attract Foreign Direct Investment. This will allow for 100 per cent foreign ownership of individual enterprises. In addition, SME growth will be targeted by making more flexible, preferred financing available through a number of facilities," he said.
The industrial strategy supports spending towards local products and local suppliers as well as promoting investment in R&D and incentivising advanced technology adoption in the UAE.
"Among its key initiatives, the new strategy is set to significantly increase in-country value and redirect funds into the local economy. Furthermore, it will drive the development of specifications and standards to ensure the continued competitiveness and value of locally manufactured products fit for global export markets," said Dr Al Jaber.
The impact of Covid-19, rapidly-evolving technologies and new globalisation trends have made the need to achieve self-sufficiency more urgent.
"The pandemic has compelled countries around the world to redefine their priorities. The UAE has demonstrated great resilience and agility in its post-pandemic recovery. In order to ensure the UAE’s continued competitiveness, and maintain its strong international standing, as the country embarks on preparations for the next 50 years, Operation 300bn is focused on knowledge, innovation, advanced technology ... [and] will significantly reduce the UAE’s reliance on imports in vital industries as it supports the building of new capabilities in future industries," Dr Al Jaber said.