FULL STEAM AHEAD

Abu Dhabi 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Ali Majed Al Mansouri, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), on the robustness of the Abu Dhabi economy and how Abu Dhabi's Vision 2030 is being implemented.

HE Ali Majed Al Mansouri
BIOGRAPHY
HE Ali Majed Al Mansouri is the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development. His Excellency is a member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi and the Executive Director at the office of the Vice Chairman at the Executive Council. He is also the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, member of the Audit Committee at Abu Dhabi Investment Council, Board member of Al Hilal Bank, Board Member at Al Dar - Sorouh Company, as well as Board Member at Abu Dhabi Global Market. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Warner Pacific University in the US and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CDA).

How is the economy of Abu Dhabi coping with lower oil prices?

Anyone reviewing the economic growth history of Abu Dhabi would recognize that, over the past decades, Abu Dhabi was consistent in achieving its main development objectives and especially in expanding and diversifying the non-oil sector. From simple trend analysis of oil-price to non-oil sector growth, one would find that, since the nineties, the non-oil sector has become almost independent from oil price fluctuations. This has become more evident in the past 10 years, with the non-oil sector achieving around 8% CAGR, regardless of fluctuations in oil prices. And currently, non-oil activities account for more than 51% of the overall economy at constant prices, compared to 41% in 2005. From that aspect, we are really ahead of the trend when it comes to achieving the economic vision for 2030.

One of the primary aims of the 2030 Vision is to create a knowledge-based economy. How do you assess that goal, 15 years out from the target date?

The vision identified a number of strategic economic sectors that are expected to form the engines constructing a sustainable knowledge-based economy. The industrial sector is expected to play a critical role in achieving the Emirate's aspirations, through developing advanced industries, as is the case in establishing the aerospace cluster in Al Ain. Abu Dhabi aims to develop a highly skilled productive workforce, particularly nationals, that are equipped for the increasingly competitive global knowledge economy. The education sector is a major determinant for achieving the Emirate's aspirations. Thus, there is a strong local commitment to invest in education, coupled with partnerships with a number of renowned foreign universities and academic institutions that are establishing a presence in the Emirate, such as Paris-Sorbonne, NYU, and INSEAD. The Abu Dhabi economy is undergoing a new phase of development with real commitment at both the government as well as business levels to accomplish ambitious goals and deliver our desired vision.

The General Secretariat of the Executive Council (GSEC) has just launched the five-year plan. What is ADDED's specific role in coordination and alignment regarding the 83 initiatives and 25 objectives?

The Abu Dhabi Plan set out five sectors, which are social development, economic development, infrastructure and environment, security, justice, and safety, and government affairs. ADDED is one of the stakeholders that has worked with GSEC from the early stages of the plan. ADDED is mainly responsible for the economic development sector of the plan in coordination with its strategic partners from the public and semi-government organizations. For example, one of the main programs we have is to create a common platform for the Abu Dhabi government to interact with both local and foreign investors and cater for opportunity development and support at the same time. Another program looks at enhancing the share of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the market and creating the right environment for SMEs to thrive. The main point of all of this is that ADDED will be using the common platform that the five-year government plan provides to assure delivery and continuous push from all stakeholders.

Looking ahead, what are Abu Dhabi's most attractive sectors for investment?

Abu Dhabi is one of the safest and most stable destinations in the world for living, working, and establishing a business. Vision 2030 has identified several sectors as engines of the Emirate's future growth in order to provide the essential development to achieve Abu Dhabial sectors as engines of the Emiation and to successfully target both regional and global markets, including petrochemicals, metals, aviation, energy, financial services, and media. It is globally recognized that the economy of Abu Dhabi is one of the fastest growing in the region. With Vision 2030 targeting investments to capture more than 23% of GDP by 2030, Abu Dhabi is highly committed to an attractive, business-friendly environment in parallel with active collaboration with private-sector entities and foreign investment companies, in order to release the hidden potential of our economy, marking the Emirate as one of the most favorable business destinations in the world.