Interview: Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri
To what extent has industrial growth contributed towards the emirate’s 2030 target of having 64% of GDP generated by non-oil sectors?
JAMAL SALEM AL DHAHERI: Good progress has been made recently in terms of increasing non-oil contributions to the country’s GDP. The realisation of major infrastructure projects has played a critical role in this regard. Their continued development will be vital in supporting Abu Dhabi’s further economic diversification and its becoming less dependent on hydrocarbons, which is profoundly more important now, given the drop in oil prices.
Specifically, the construction of Khalifa Port, KIZAD (the Khalifa Industrial Zone adjacent to the port), Etihad Rail and the new Midfield Terminal at the airport, combined with a supportive government policy and the emirate’s close proximity to the rapidly growing economies in the Gulf, South Asia and Africa, have all been instrumental in creating the necessary conditions to attract investment in many sectors, including metals, building materials, and food and beverage manufacturing. As a result, major players such as Emirates Global Aluminium have committed substantial sums of capital to increase their capacity. We too share a similar outlook and have committed to investing Dh5bn ($1.4bn) over the next few years to diversify and expand our industrial portfolio. Three such developments are Ducab Aluminium, Taweelah Aluminium Extrusion Company and the Al Gharbia Pipe Company. Additionally, we currently have multiple investment plans and strategic projects in the pipeline which will contribute further to the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s industrial sector.
Investment companies such as Senaat create, optimise, promote and champion capital- and power-intensive assets, providing significant industrial capability and thereby supporting further investment in downstream, value-added industries.
What needs to be done to ensure that future economic growth will achieve the country’s desired strategic objectives?
AL DHAHERI: Given the number of stakeholders as well as the complexities related to large-scale industrial development, coordination is essential in order to achieve optimal efficiency. The establishment of the Industrial Development Bureau to oversee the implementation of policies, plans and programmes related to the development of the industrial sector will ensure that stakeholders are working in unison and towards the long-term objectives outlined within the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 strategy. However, coordination among the stakeholders themselves has always been at the forefront of all of our strategic development. There continues to be clear and open discussion between key entities, in terms of our investment programmes and how we can complement each other. This avoids any duplication of work and ensures the creation of a full production chain composed of different companies from the UAE, which in turn will boost the local industry.
Another priority is protecting our domestic market, as in the last few years we have witnessed a significant inflow of imports into the UAE at prices below fair market value. One example of this is in the steel industry, where the dumping practices by foreign steel suppliers have impacted UAE steel players and affected their production volumes and profitability. In the UAE, the government is drafting legislation that will address limitations in the existing law and ensure fair trade.
Additionally, we hope that a uniform standard will be introduced into the domestic market in order to fend off imports of low-quality and force exporters of low-quality steel into the UAE to comply. Similar practices are being applied in the US and Europe and are a sensible approach here.
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