Interview : Saif Mohamed Al Hajeri

How can public-private partnerships (PPPs) contribute to the emirate’s economic development?

SAIF MOHAMED AL HAJERI: Through the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, the emirate seeks to achieve a number of important objectives for the future, such as sustained growth, diversification and balanced and equitable regional development. Economic Vision 2030 emphasises the importance of the private sector in encouraging progress across different sectors and regions.

PPPs are an important tool for engaging the private sector to contribute their expertise, dynamism and efficiency in the implementation of large-scale developments, such as infrastructure projects, thus reducing risks to the government in driving growth and development. In short, the private sector will be a partner to the government in the pursuit of strategic objectives as part of its economic transformation process, whether through PPPs or developing individual projects.

What is the government doing to facilitate the innovation of entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

AL HAJERI: The government follows a clear approach to the planning process. This ensures transparency and incentives in priority sectors, contributing to the visibility of opportunities for local and international SMEs. The emirate is also using the Technology and Innovation Pioneers platform to link inventors, business incubators, universities and priority sectors. The aim is to ensure that the system continues to work and address the challenges faced by inventors, students and researchers through innovations that are developed locally and are also able to compete globally. The government has prepared the required legislative environment for SMEs to grow by increasing the number of modern and innovative business activities within the existing licensing mechanisms.

However, there are still many opportunities for improvement, which are being explored in cooperation with strategic partners within the emirate as well as across the UAE. With regards to entrepreneurship, the emirate continues to find mechanisms and programmes to compete globally, and solve challenges in cooperation with partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. By meeting with entrepreneurs on a regular basis, we can ensure the compatibility of our strategies and our ability to keep pace with their growth.

What steps have been implemented to improve trading activity in Abu Dhabi?

AL HAJERI: A combination of factors can create a stimulating investment environment for Abu Dhabi to become a leading trade centre. Such factors include strong GDP growth, stable currency, simplified import and export procedures, and economic stability.

Abu Dhabi has always been keen to open up new economic opportunities while continuing to expand in existing sectors. For example, the emirate has developed an integrated strategy focusing on non-oil exports, improving and developing local products to qualify in international markets, and entering into free trade agreements with many countries from the MENA region and the rest of the world. Abu Dhabi’s close ties with the international community contribute significantly to the flourishing of commercial and investment activity. Furthermore, the emirate pursues a flexible economic policy of establishing strong commercial relations, and entering into regional and international trade alliances based on the principle of partnership and achieving realistic long-term economic goals.

To this end, the UAE government has entered into a number of trade, economic, investment and technical agreements with various countries to encourage long-term integration and cooperation. Additionally, the Advisory Committee on Free Trade Agreements established by Abu Dhabi is responsible for identifying strategic export opportunities for goods that can be exported from the emirate to the rest of the world.