Interview: Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh
What is being done to foster foreign direct investment (FDI) in the current challenging context?
AHMED ALI AL SAYEGH: The UAE economy has always been competitive, resilient, internationally connected and built on strong fundamentals. It is therefore able to withstand market volatility and challenges. The country remains an attractive destination for FDI despite the economic uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. During this crisis, the UAE has remained focused on protecting its people, supporting industries and businesses, and sustaining its economy through numerous stimulus packages and relief measures. The UAE has also strengthened its foreign trade relations and collaborations with partners to pursue new business, investment and commercial opportunities that will continue to foster an open economic environment.
In keeping with Abu Dhabi’s aim to facilitate business activities and stimulate growth, ADGM launched financial and support measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on registered entities operating in its jurisdiction on Al Maryah Island. These relief measures were designed to assist our community in weathering the business challenges through to early 2021 and served to complement the Abu Dhabi government’s support packages. We are confident that the economies of the UAE and Abu Dhabi will remain strong and sustainable because of their fiscal prudence, continuing growth diversification and financial innovation strategy. ADGM will also continue to work closely with the Abu Dhabi government to provide a well-functioning platform that promotes greater economic and financial sector growth. ADGM and key stakeholders have built a strong foundation to become a leading international financial centre with $29bn in asssets under management as of 2019. That same year saw ADGM launch a range of projects and initiatives, including new regulations and sustainable finance platforms, along with policies aimed at fostering strategic partnerships and building a sustainable tech ecosystem.
How is ADGM seeking to stimulate economic activity in the region and beyond?
AL SAYEGH: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) aim to introduce a futures contract for Abu Dhabi’s Murban crude oil. In addition, a new exchange – ICE Futures Abu Dhabi – is being established in ADGM to enable more market participants to trade Murban crude oil in a regulated and transparent environment.
We were heartened that the relationship between the UAE and China is continuing to strengthen every year based on mutual respect and common synergies developed over many decades. In order to support this cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, ADGM set up its first overseas office in Beijing in May 2018. This serves to reinforce Abu Dhabi’s commitment to strengthening its economic and regulatory collaboration with China’s government and enterprises. ADGM is also the first financial centre in the Middle East to be given financial regulatory approval and recognition by the Chinese government. In order to further enhance cross-border connectivity and boost opportunities between the two economies, ADGM expanded its partnerships with major Chinese governmental and corporate entities such as the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Local Financial Regulation, the National Development and Reform Commission, the China National Nuclear Corporation, China Everbright Group, Jiangsu Provincial Government, Hainan Free Trade Zone, the financial technology (fintech) company OneConnect and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. These efforts will create new development channels and support the economic diversification goals of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
Furthermore, to support the UAE’s digital economy strategy, ADGM’s latest fintech lab has created a virtual environment for UAE financial institutions, along with banks, regulators and global technology companies to collaborate, develop and test innovative new financial products on a platform that is both safe and reliable.
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