May. 4, 2020


Rashed A. Al Balooshi

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Rashed A. Al Balooshi

Undersecretary, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED)

The government has announced a series of new initiatives to boost development in the private sector, including instant business licenses and loans for SMEs.

BIO

As Undersecretary of ADDED, Rashed A. Al Balooshi oversees the development and implementation of leading initiatives at ADDED, with the ultimate goal of elevating the global competitiveness of Abu Dhabi's business ecosystem. Al Balooshi is guided by his two decades of experience at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), where he was entrusted with a multitude of roles on his journey to becoming the CEO. He holds an MBA from UAE University and a bachelor's in computer science and information systems from Benedict College.


How is the government working to encourage deeper cooperation between the public and private sectors?
Abu Dhabi seeks to build a resilient and robust economy with a strong private sector; thus, solid relations between the private and public sectors is a must. As part of Abu Dhabi's development accelerator program, Ghadan 21, the Emirate has enacted a new law to promote PPPs through the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), which was given the responsibility of leading the UAE's first PPP program, which will work with government departments to identify key projects that will benefit from a PPP model and bring them to fruition. The new law provides a new structure for regulating partnerships between the public and private sectors in Abu Dhabi, enhancing the Emirate's FDI strategy to support the participation of the private sector in certain key strategic sectors including technology, urban infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing, and transportation. ADIO will support investors in making commitments in line with Abu Dhabi's economic strategy and work with government and private-sector partners to use financial, technical, and regulatory criteria to screen proposed projects and assess their feasibility for PPP.

What technologies will be vital to ensure Abu Dhabi's future economic growth, and what steps is the government taking to encourage investment in these areas?
In line with Abu Dhabi's economic priorities, ADIO's objective is to create clear and specific investment opportunities for domestic and foreign investors aligned with our interests. In practice, ADIO is working to accelerate the advanced agritech ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and become a global leader in desert agriculture. To support this, ADIO has introduced a three-year program with up to AED1 billion in incentives for innovators within select agricultural technology sub-sectors to expand their knowledge-focused operations to Abu Dhabi. ADIO is awarding highly competitive and comprehensive cash and non-cash incentive packages for innovative companies within the agritech sector, including a rebate of up to 75% on all R&D activities. Moreover, Abu Dhabi also offers various advantages to businesses and innovators, such as globally competitive tax rates, world-class infrastructure, the ability to handle high-volume commodities, inexpensive energy sources, and favorable tariff structures. The packages will be awarded to local and international companies that develop technologies to support precision farming and agriculture robotics, bioenergy, and indoor farming.

What specific ways does ADDED work to encourage and support local entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SMEs?
The importance of SMEs ranks high among the government's ongoing concerns for socioeconomic development. ADDED's progress in accelerating the establishment of a robust SME sector according to highest standards is achieved through building strategic partnerships with developed countries and establishing strong partnerships with the private sector. The government has announced a series of new initiatives to boost development in the private sector, including granting instant business licenses and access to loans for SMEs. The SME credit guarantee scheme will see more accessible financing opportunities provided to SMEs based in the Emirate through a guarantee provided by the government to Abu Dhabi banks. The scheme guarantees up to 75% of loan value, which will be provided to the bank in case of default, enabling banks to secure a certain level of lending to the market. It has been launched jointly by ADIO, the Department of Finance, and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

What are some of the future plans in store for ADDED regarding sustainability?
As we move ahead, and in line with global emerging trends, ADDED is keen to revitalize the economy by integrating structural reforms needed to foster strong, more sustainable, and inclusive growth and unlocking new growth engines. ADDED aims to enhance productivity by creating incentives for greater efficiency in the use of natural resources, reducing waste and energy consumption, unlocking opportunities for innovation and value creation, and allocating resources to the highest value use.

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