When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the UAE’s National Strategy for Industry and Advanced Technology earlier this year, he ushered in a new era.
Known as Operation 300bn, the strategy provides a clear roadmap for the UAE to become a world-leading industrial hub within the next decade. With its focus on developing our capabilities in industries of the future like space, green hydrogen and biotechnology, the announcement instantly attracted widespread attention from a swathe of international investors, policymakers and commentators. The consensus that emerged was that this latest – in a long line – of bold moves from the UAE’s leadership, marked a quantum leap for the nation’s industrial sector.
At its heart, the strategy aims to increase the industrial sector’s GDP contribution to AED300 billion by 2031 by accelerating the adoption of advanced technology across the value chain. This, we firmly believe, will boost productivity, generate added in-country value, create a raft of new, highly skilled jobs for the nation’s emerging talents, further diversify our economy and enhance global competitiveness.
In short, we are setting out to transform the industrial sector into a key driver of sustainable growth – and a pillar of the national economy. We will turbocharge existing industries where we have an established presence, and we will venture to new frontiers by leveraging advanced technologies and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions and applications. We will research what the future could look like, and we will develop the technologies to take us there.
Under the new strategy, innovation will not be a mere buzzword. It will be our de facto approach to industry as we cultivate a culture of ingenuity and entrepreneurship, and encourage everyone, from around the world, to come and make it in The Emirates.
Though it sets a new tone for the UAE, this strategy was not developed out of the blue. Boasting the strongest credit ratings in the region, the UAE has long enjoyed investment safe haven status, with enviable economic stability and a promising growth landscape; bolstered by its strategic location, robust financial reserves, huge sovereign wealth funds, and sustainable government spending that ensures a healthy economic cycle.
Energy resources and raw materials required for industrial use are also available at competitive costs. Furthermore, UAE-based manufacturers can take advantage of laws that guarantee full ownership rights for foreigners in 122 economic activities across 13 sectors – soon to be expanded to cover the majority of industrial sectors – which will come into full effect as of 1 June 2021. Combine this with zero percent corporation tax and a wealth of accessible geographic locations and specific business zones ready to boost further industrial development, and it is easy to see why so many global, regional and local manufacturers were already developing their businesses in the UAE. Simply put, the UAE is an ideal strategic market for the world’s most innovative companies, reached new levels of high-tech excellence worldwide.
An appealing business landscape
As part of our journey towards enhanced economic diversification, the UAE has long sought to develop policies, procedures and practices that foster the growth of both the national economy and the private sector.
Our efforts here speak for themselves. The UAE is consistently ranked among the top countries around the world in key economic competitiveness and ease of doing business indices. This is largely as a result of the many incentives, legal and logistical facilities, and collaborative regulatory environment we have introduced for businesses over the years. The results speak for themselves; we are proud to support a stable private sector with an ambitious growth agenda.
The UAE has a transport and logistics ecosystem that’s considered the most efficient and comprehensive in the region, and one of the easiest to reach from anywhere in the world, via 10 airports and 12 seaports. With a handling capability of more than 17 million tons annually and a cargo capacity of 80 million tons, the UAE sits at the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa, giving its manufacturers easy access to markets where more than five billion people live.
Enabling Operation 300bn
The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology will be the enabler of Operation 300bn. We will be responsible for developing legislative and regulatory frameworks, providing energy at competitive prices, and developing an advanced technology roadmap, a framework for research and development (R&D), and launching the National In-Country Value (ICV) program.
The ICV program is a core component of the UAE’s industrial transformation. It aims to redirect expenditure on procuring goods and services into the national economy. In parallel, the metrology standards developed by Ministry will ensure local industrial infrastructure meets international standards and enable the ICV Program to enhance the competitiveness of local products and services and boost collaboration between the public and private sectors.
To achieve these targets, industry players should prepare to work with the Ministry on the adoption of new and updated industrial laws, the roll-out of digital platforms for services and licensing, the promotion of locally produced goods and the enablement of an R&D ecosystem.
The strategy leaves no single industry behind but has established a framework through which the current industrial landscape can continue to thrive. Industries with existing national significance, such as energy, petrochemicals, plastics, heavy industries and manufacturing; strategic industries that aim to enhance economic resilience and reduce dependence on global supply chains, such as food, water, agriculture and healthcare; and future industries, such as space, biotechnology, medical technology, sustainable products and sectors that can be supported by 4IR applications.
Enabling these sectors and facilitating the entry of innovators and investors are some of the key pillars of the strategy. Furthermore, the role of the Emirates Development Bank (EDB) as the financial engine of the strategy is crucial. By 2025, the bank will expand its financing portfolio to AED30 billion to support entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs and large corporates, who will help spur the nation’s transition to a knowledge-based economy.
Make it in The Emirates: Gateway to the Future
The strategy is complemented by the first-of-its-kind industrial campaign, ‘Make it in The Emirates’. It’s an open invitation to investors, industrialists and innovators to participate in the growth of the industrial sector in the UAE. The UAE has always been a land of opportunity for those with the talent and imagination to realize their dreams. Our investment environment and openness to global markets and competitive advantages ensure a capital-rich landscape for the industry-minded creator. Consider this your invitation to come and make it in The Emirates. It’s your opportunity to engage with the ministry and to invest in a forward-thinking, industrious, global future.