FOREWORD TO THE BUSINESS YEAR: ABU DHABI 2016

Abu Dhabi 2016 | DIPLOMACY | FOREWORD

His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister, Presidential Affairs.

His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan

As the UAE looks forward to celebrating its 45th anniversary, the reality of the country's economic experience is that with a clear vision, specific objectives, and committed leadership, the future should be one of steady progress. Benefitting from experience, the UAE national economy has proved to be one of the strongest and most promising economies at both the regional and world levels. Able to have withstood the impacts and consequences of the global financial crisis, the economy maintains a sustainable competence in its fundamentals and will continue in this vein. It is our goal, through the UAE Vision 2021, to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world in terms of GNI. The core of UAE Vision 2021 is simply to achieve "a global, competitive, diversified, knowledge-based economy, driven by qualified national cadres."

Guided by the vision and wise leadership of His Highness the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE is empowering its human resources and harnessing the full potential of its national human capital. In this, HH the President's leadership is ably supported by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Through their unstinting efforts, His Highness the President's vision has been translated into successful policies, strategies and pioneering initiatives, as well as innovative plans and projects that are producing results in line with the UAE government's aim to ensure that its populace is happy.

This combination of innovation and resilience stems from the UAE's strong foundations laid by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his fellow rulers of the Emirates. They paved the way for the development process that, from its very inception, has made achievements so impressive that, in less than half a century, the UAE now stands amongst the world's most developed countries and boasts a federation that is robust and firmly based on the unshakeable tenets of its judicial, administrative, socio-economic, security, foreign relations, and service systems.

In keeping with the guidelines of the UAE's National Agenda, the country's economic activity is following three major trajectories. Firstly, we are working to harness the full potential of our national human capital and to attract and retain the brightest and the best in all fields that are conducive to the positive development of the UAE by offering fulfilling employment and a favorable environment in which to live and work. Secondly, our country is increasingly benefitting from a sustainable and diversified economy that is flexible in adopting new economic models and that will capitalize on global economic partnerships for the long-term prosperity of the UAE. Thirdly, our economy is actively moving toward being knowledge based and both highly productive and highly competitive.

Today, this broadening of the economy beyond the hydrocarbon industries has ensured that the UAE is highly resilient in managing the fall in global oil prices. In fact, our economy has diversified such that the percentage contribution of non-oil sectors rose to 69% of the GDP and we plan to reduce further the oil sector's contribution to the GDP to less than 20% in the coming years.

The UAE government has taken, and continues to take, earnest steps to ensure that economic legislation has been upgraded, sound foreign trade policies have been developed, and the main regulatory framework has been enhanced. These efforts are seeing results in nurturing high value-added sectors, developing industries and exports, and, crucially, encouraging and attracting investment. Currently, in order to attract foreign investment, we are working on a new private investment law that will allow up to 100% ownership by foreign investors in certain sectors. There are already over 30 free zones throughout the UAE that allow 100% business ownership and, collectively, they have succeeded in attracting in excess of 40,000 free zone businesses.
A vital aspect of this economic strategy is the promotion of SMEs and the cultivating of a new class of hard-working entrepreneurs who have the innovation, responsibility, and ambition to prosper and we will continue our efforts to diversify the economy and regulate competition, as well as protect consumer and intellectual property rights. It is also guided by a set of governing values such as transparency, excellence, participation, innovation, respect of rights, and team spirit. These values entail a strict commitment to apply the principles of corporate governance and clarity of information, decisions, ethics, and all work-related mechanisms.

As a country, the UAE takes very seriously its place in international rankings. It is a matter of pride when our efforts are shown to be resulting in steady, sustainable improvements and since the economy is the lynchpin of every aspect of development, we do not take these positions lightly. The UAE holds a privileged ranking in the global economy as the second largest Arab economy and one of the fastest-growing countries in the world but we further aim to make it a leader in the Global Entrepreneurship and Development, the Global Competitiveness and the Global Innovation indices, as well as rank first globally in the Ease of Doing Business index.

We are optimistic about the future as well as about being able to both continue our economic growth and ensure its sustainability. Our country is a vital nexus in the Middle East region and it forms, too, key marine and aviation hubs connecting the East with the West. It is of additional major significance that the UAE enjoys political and security stability, an advanced infrastructure, a stable investment and economic environment, high-quality services, flexible laws and legislation, and ease of doing business. These are all factors that are fundamental to its future development and economic growth.

Put simply, the bottom line is that our ultimate goal, through meeting the aims of the UAE Vision 2021, is to provide a good, decent, and happy life for those who live in the UAE.