Benefitting from a range of competitive advantages, manufacturing is set to see greater investment

Manufacturing is playing an increasingly important role as the emirate pushes ahead with efforts to diversify its economy to build a long-term growth path that is less dependent on hydrocarbons. Abu Dhabi’s industrial strategy seeks to leverage competitive advantages in resources, location, infrastructure and governmental support to become a leader in a range of sectors, from petrochemicals to metals.

Major Contributor

Manufacturing contributed 5.7% to the emirate’s GDP in 2013, and accounted for 12.6% of non-oil GDP, according to the “Statistical Yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2014”, published by the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD). This was up from 2012, when the sector accounted for 5.3% of GDP. The sector’s share of GDP has otherwise remained steady since the beginning of the decade, at 5.6% in 2010 and 5.7% in 2011. This can be explained by the fact that the rapid growth of manufacturing industry has been matched by the expansion of other sectors. However, manufacturing has broadly grown as a proportion of non-oil output, from 11.1% in 2010. The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a policy document serving as a blueprint for the long-term economic development of the emirate, foresees increasing the industrial sector’s contribution to GDP to 25% by 2030. This will entail huge investments from both the private and the public sectors in a range of other segments, from petrochemicals through metals to food processing.

The vision identifies a number of key sectors that the emirate is focusing on to support economic diversification, with an emphasis on capital-intensive, export-oriented sectors in which it has or can develop a competitive advantage.

Combined, the government is aiming to achieve 7.5% annual growth in these industries and increase their contribution to GDP.

The Economic Vision 2030 highlights some industries as “global focus sectors”, in which it can become a worldwide leader; others are defined as “regional focus sectors”, with the aim of consolidating a leading position within the Middle East and its environs.

A number of manufacturing industries are included as global focus sectors: chemicals; metal and mining; aviation, aerospace and defence; pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life sciences; and health care equipment. Regional focus sectors tend to be more service-oriented – for example, trade and logistics, and telecoms. Industrial investors can leverage a wide range of competitive advantages available. These benefits include abundant and competitively priced oil and gas feedstock; excellent infrastructure such as ports, airports and roads, as well as utilities; strong government support for key industries; relatively low labour costs and a flexible labour market that encourages development of the Emirati skills base while embracing immigration in areas in which there are shortages of workers locally.

Industrial Development Bureau

A key body involved in developing the strategy for the sector, including establishing priorities among sub-sectors and regulating industrial zones, is the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), which was established by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and commenced operations in 2013. The IDB’s mandate falls under three pillars: strategy and policy, sector development and investor services. The IDB also oversees the optimisation of energy use and utilities in the industrial sector to ensure the emirate is making the best use of its resources to support sustainable economic expansion across all sectors. The availability of affordable energy is a significant attraction for industrial players, and the IDB is responsible for recommending how these resources can be used as efficiently as possible and to the greatest economic effect.

The current industrial landscape is anchored by aluminium, fertilisers, petrochemicals and steel, all of which are energy-intensive. In line with Economic Vision 2030, the IDB is now also studying other segments to pursue to increased industrial contribution to GDP while optimising energy use.

The sectors being assessed at present include metal products, chemicals, plastic products, packaging systems, aerospace, engineered metals, oilfield equipment, transport equipment, machinery, semiconductors, construction materials, and food and beverage processing, among others.

The bureau makes investment recommendations based on three criteria, namely, the economic value, including direct and indirect contribution to GDP, support to diversification, and the ability to attract investment and promote exports; social factors such as job creation, knowledge transfer and the potential to involve private sector, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and environmental considerations. In cooperation with ADDED and the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, the IDB will also assess, license and review preliminary environmental studies for industrial projects and ensure compliance of licensees with the regulations concerning environmental protection.

“Energy prices play an important role for industrial actors. Abu Dhabi provides a key location with access to secure sources of low-cost energy. Nevertheless, it is important for industrials to also increasingly implement energy efficiency measures in their production,” Suhail Mubarak bin Athaeeth Al Ameri, the CEO of Senaat, told OBG.

The IDB is also responsible for all industrial licensing and compliance in the emirate and has launched the Industrial Licensing Services Centre to service industrial investors located outside industrial cities. The centre will provide licensing, Customs exemptions applications and environment, health and safety services for industrial investors in Abu Dhabi.

Numerous Pull Factors

The emirate’s location amidst the fast-growing economies of the Gulf, between the huge emerging markets of Asia and Africa, and with access and long trade ties to Europe, is a big advantage, though this equally applies to its regional competitors.

“Manufacturing companies in the UAE that are export-oriented are taking full advantage of the opportunities at hand,” Amer Kakish, CEO of Ittihad International Investment, a conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, told OBG. “World-class port infrastructure and the country’s geographical location make it an excellent hub for global commerce.”

The UAE also has a conducive business and investment environment. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s “Doing Business 2015” report ranked the country 22nd in the world, up from 25th in 2014. The country scored particularly highly on its tax-free environment, open borders for trade, the ease of registering property and obtaining construction permits, and the availability of electricity. These advantages are enhanced at a range of industrial zones in the emirate, where installed infrastructure and trade benefits are available to investors. Industries operating in zones run by the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (ZonesCorp) account for almost half of Abu Dhabi’s manufacturing GDP (see analysis).

Several industry leaders have additionally told OBG that a shortage of skilled labour is an issue, but following substantial investments in, and reform of, education and vocational training in the emirate, the situation is now improving. This has helped companies in the sector contribute to the long-term goal of Emiratisation. “The industrial sector has been identified as a key area for job creation and represents a genuine opportunity for nationals to gain meaningful employment,” Saeed G Al Romaithi, the CEO of Emirates Steel, told OBG. “However, it has not been around as long as the oil and gas industry, so there is some work that still needs to be done in order to encourage nationals to enter the sector. With proper skill development there will be a lot of potential for individuals to achieve technical and senior management positions, but it will require joint cooperation with universities and the development of advanced and tailor-made training programmes, which fortunately is already under way.”

Salem Al Mansoori, the general manager of ADNOC Linde Industrial Gases Company, more commonly known as Elixier, which provides industrial gases to the oil, gas, petrochemicals and additional industry sectors, told OBG, “The increased activity in Abu Dhabi’s industrial sector will be reflected in a greater demand for industrial gases. Elixier will be ready to meet such requirements and contribute to Abu Dhabi’s economic growth.”

Sector Facts & Figures

The gross output of the manufacturing sector totalled Dh182.9bn ($49.8bn) in 2012, the last year for which figures are available in the “Statistical Yearbook of Abu Dhabi 2014”, up from Dh177.5bn ($48.32bn) in 2011. The sector’s value added also grew, from Dh48bn ($13.07bn) in 2011 to Dh48.2bn ($13.12bn) in 2012. Gross fixed capital formation of manufacturing activity increased 29.3%, from Dh28.3bn ($7.7bn) to Dh36.6bn ($10bn) in 2012.

Capital formation in the sector was equivalent to 4.1% of GDP in 2013, according to initial figures, up from 4% the previous year.

As the sector has expanded, it has generated jobs and total wages have risen. Taken as a whole, comand Dh11bn ($3bn) in 2010.

By a large margin the biggest sub-sector of manufacturing is chemicals and plastics and related products, with a total gross output worth Dh114.9bn ($31.1bn) in 2012, or 62.8% of overall industrial production. It was followed by basic metals (Dh20.1bn, $5.5bn); non-metallic mineral products except oil (Dh12.5bn, $3.4bn); structural metal products except machinery and equipment (Dh9.4bn, $2.6bn); and food, beverages and tobacco (Dh7.9bn, $2.2bn).

The chemicals and plastics segment is also the biggest contributor to value-added manufacturing, generating around Dh24.5bn ($6.7bn), followed by basic metals (Dh5.5bn, $1.5bn) and structural metal products except machinery and equipment (Dh3.7bn, $1bn). The biggest contributors to gross fixed capital formation in the industry – that is, effectively the segments making the most capital investment – were chemicals (Dh26.6bn, $7.2bn), basic metals (Dh7.6bn, $2.1bn), structural metal products (Dh637m, $173.4m), machinery and equipment (Dh465m, $126.6m), and food and beverage manufacturers (Dh431m, $117.3m).

Senaat

One of the central driving forces behind the growth of industry in Abu Dhabi, and therefore the emirate’s diversification, is Senaat, a government-owned holding company which was formerly known as the General Holding Corporation.

Senaat has seven companies in its portfolio and in 2013 generated revenues of Dh12.4bn ($3.4bn), holding assets of Dh26.5bn ($7.2bn) and employing more than 15,000 people at year-end. Companies in Senaat’s portfolio include Emirates Steel, the only integrated steel plant in the UAE; National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC), which offers engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), as well as installation and commissioning services to the offshore oil and gas industry; construction materials company Arkan; Agthia, a food and beverages production and distribution company; metal cable and wire manufacturer Ducab; Al Foah, which develops and regulates the date palm sector; and the Taweelah Aluminium Extrusion Company.

Senaat’s NPCC is a major player in the EPC sector, with manufacturing capacity of 100,000 tonnes of structural tissue from its 1m-sq-metre facility in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi. Ducab has a production capacity of more than 110,000 tonnes of high-, medium- and low-voltage cables and wires per year, supplying customers in 40 countries. In 2013, the company generated revenues of Dh5.1bn ($1.4bn). The company was the first in the Gulf to obtain an ISO 9001:1994, an international quality standard.

Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest organic farm, which is owned by Al Foah. Al Foah exports 90% of the emirate’s date output, and has 17,000 farmers producing for 6m customers in 46 countries.

Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi

One of the centres of Abu Dhabi’s industrial development is the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, 60 km from Abu Dhabi City and 45 km from Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone. The zone is owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Ports and is intrinsically linked with Khalifa Port, which continues to expand and has access to markets with a total population of 4.5bn people, according to Abu Dhabi Ports.

One of the main reasons investors choose Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi is its integration with Khalifa Port, which provides optimal supply chain efficiencies. The infrastructure and transportation network are also key decision factors.

In a statement to OBG, Abu Dhabi Ports officials highlighted the role that the zone’s central position between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, its access to other regional and international markets via high-quality infrastructure (including Khalifa Port), and its ability to accommodate large distribution and processing facilities in a number of clusters have played in convincing investors to set up operations. The main pillar of the development has been aluminium production, but the food, pharmaceuticals, and printing and packaging sectors, as well as the production and supply of automotive parts, are all promising areas for growth, according to officials.

Metals

Basic metals manufacturing accounted for 0.6% of GDP and 1.4% of non-oil GDP in 2013, according to SCAD. However, it is a very important export earner for the emirate, contributing 45.4% of total non-oil exports. The sector’s imports are also substantial, accounting for 17.6% of all imports, as the emirate does not have large domestic supplies of inputs such as iron ore and coke.

Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) is developing one of the world’s largest aluminium plants at its 6-sq-km site at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi. The $5.7bn first phase of development began in 2007 and was completed in early 2011, ahead of time and on budget – relatively rare for big-ticket investments anywhere in the world – and brought initial capacity of 800,000 tonnes of aluminium a year.

Phase two, with an investment worth $4.5bn, will ramp capacity up to 1.3m tonnes, with a view to supporting downstream, value-added industries. Following its completion, EMAL will have the world’s longest potline, at 1.7 km.

EMAL is part of Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), a company formed by EMAL’s merger with Dubai-based DUBAL in 2013, creating a $15bn global giant.

In November 2014, Abdulla Kalban, CEO of EGA, announced that the company planned $5bn in capital expenditure by 2020, to consolidate its position as one of the world’s top five aluminium producers. Kalban said that he was bullish about the outlook for the global aluminium market, despite considerable supply increases and uncertainties besetting the world economy, including a slowdown in China, a major market for the metal.

“We’re expecting demand to come. Demand is coming from construction, electronics, packaging and transportation industries,” Kalban said, citing Russia, China and the Middle East as markets with particular medium-term potential. EGA’s five-year strategic plan includes consolidating the EMALDUBAL merger and developing an upstream asset in a bauxite mine in Guinea, West Africa.

Kalban also announced progress on the planned Shaheen alumina refinery beside the EMAL complex. Following the completion of feasibility studies, the project got the go-ahead and phase one should be completed by 2017, bringing 2m tonnes of capacity on-stream. Phase two is due to be completed by 2020, doubling Shaheen’s capacity to 4m tonnes.

Steel

The World Steel Association estimates that steel demand in the MENA region grew by 3.3% in 2014, to reach 67.6m tonnes, following slower growth in 2012 and 2013, of 2.4% and 1.8%, respectively.

Abu Dhabi is home to the UAE’s largest steel mill, Emirates Steel, owned by Senaat. Despite sluggish global demand and volatility in raw material prices, Emirates Steel performed strongly in 2013. It posted revenues of Dh6.5bn ($1.8bn), an increase of almost 8% on 2012.

The company produced 2.6m tonnes of long products, of which 1.7m tonnes were rebar, 573,000 tonnes wire rods and 316,000 tonnes structural steel.

Overall, the company sold 3m tonnes of steel in 2013, buoyed by rising regional demand as construction activity picked up strongly, both from government-funded mega-projects and private-sector investment in the recovering real estate sector. Some 1.9m tonnes went to the UAE market, with the remainder sold around the world, in Europe, East Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, according to a company statement.

New Markets At Home & Abroad

In 2013 Emirates Steel made its first shipments of structural steel to the US and Mexico. Its export markets have since grown to include Europe, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Australasia, a significant sign of its geographical reach and its growing international reputation. These new export markets represent the latest step in Emirates Steel’s efforts to establish a larger presence in developed markets.

The company sees a positive outlook going forward. “The GCC’s construction sector is becoming more stable, which will drive the demand for steel,” Al Romaithi said in a statement in early 2014. “But more importantly, the multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects planned across the region will be the main driver and the cornerstone of the region’s economic growth in the coming years.”

While supply in the region is increasing, Emirates Steel executives are confident that the pipeline of construction projects across the GCC member states – and in Abu Dhabi in particular – will provide enough demand to absorb this supply. It is expected that developments in the power sector will be among the main drivers of steel consumption.

Emirates Steel should see continued demand over the next six years from the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is constructing the Middle East’s first nuclear power plant at Barakah in Al Gharbia. The company made its first delivery of nuclear-grade steel to the site in September 2013, and ENEC will continue to place orders as the plant takes shape – the first reactor is expected to come on-line in 2017, with the four-unit station to be completed by 2020.

Expanding The Range

Senaat’s Emirates Steel is also expanding its range of products to increase its value added, to secure a presence in developed markets and to offer specialist items to fill niches in the competitive regional market. Its products include rebar, coil, wire rods and hot rolled structural steel sections such as beams, columns, channels, angles and sheet piles, as well as steel billets. It is now developing structural steel products tailored for the offshore oil and gas industries, which can work in extremely corrosive environments and temperatures as low as -20°C. In December 2013 the company announced that it had added sheet pile materials to its product range, making it the first steel manufacturer in the Middle East to do so. The product is aimed at the regional and world markets, and represents the latest value-added offering in its line.

“As a result of challenging market conditions, there is a need to introduce high-value-added products to maximise efficiencies and develop a more diversified product range,” Al Romaithi told OBG. “Demand both locally and regionally warrants an expanded portfolio of products to support increased steel consumption across the GCC, which has been underpinned by significant investment in the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors, specifically in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”

Ongoing Expansion & Training

Emirates Steel has an ongoing programme of plant expansion. The first phase was completed in June 2009 after Dh4.5bn ($1.2bn) investment, while phase two, which cost Dh6bn ($1.6bn), concluded in December 2011, taking the firm’s annual production capacity to 3.5m tonnes per annum (tpa). In June 2014 the company refinanced its debt by securing new credit facilities worth $1.3bn with 19 local and international banks without government guarantees.

The third expansion phase will add flat steel products to the firm’s portfolio and is intended to produce approximately 2.1m tpa of hot rolled coil for various applications including oil and gas sector, however, is still pending the necessary approvals and natural gas allocation.

In addition, Emirates Steel also places significant attention and focus on the development of a local pool of expertise for steel production and the career development of its national workforce, which has increased in number from around 50 persons in 2000 to approximately 500 in 2014.

The company has launched a range of training courses as part of an Emiratisation drive. By end-2013, the workforce was 19% Emirati, a proportion that it expects to increase to 30% by 2018.

Putting Carbon To Good Use

In November 2013 Emirates Steel signed a partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar, a wholly owned subsidiary of the government-owned investment firm Mubadala Development Company, for a carbon capture, usage and storage project.

A $123m carbon dioxide receiving and compressing station is being built near the plant, connected to a 50-km pipeline carrying the gas to ADNOC’s oilfields to be used in oil recovery. Up to 730,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be captured annually when the system becomes operational in 2016.

The project, which is one of several planned or under way in Abu Dhabi, is a win-win: Emirates Steel will see much of its carbon footprint eliminated, while ADNOC will use the product to boost recovery levels, one of its major strategic objectives for the coming years. This will also help preserve gas – currently used in oil recovery – for use in power generation and as a feedstock.

A New Mill

According to local media, in April 2014 ZonesCorp signed an agreement with Jordan’s United Iron and Steel Company for the construction of a Dh507m ($138m) steel-rolling mill.

The plant, expected to begin commercial production in early 2016, will have an initial capacity of 300,000 tonnes a year, with a view to increasing this to 500,000 tonnes. It will produce galvanised steel coils, including pre-painted coils, for use in roofing, ducting and cladding. The 126,000-sq-metre plant will supply the UAE, MENA and Europe, employing around 250 people, ZonesCorp said. Jamal Jawhari, partner and member of the board of United Iron and Steel Company, said that the ZonesCorp model was “extremely attractive” given its one-stop-shop approach, industrial clusters, and low energy and fuel costs, as well as Abu Dhabi’s central location.

Petrochemicals

The petrochemicals industry is the manufacturing segment in which Abu Dhabi has the most apparent competitive advantages, and thus it is unsurprising that it is both long-established and has become one of the most important drivers of economic diversification.

The emirate’s huge crude oil reserves and its substantial gas resources – which are in the course of being further developed – provide easily accessible and cheap feedstock for the industry.

Other advantages include the UAE’s location, which gives it access to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and its established ties to the developed markets of Europe and East Asia. Local demand is also significant – Abu Dhabi’s domestic petrochemicals market grew by 19.5% from 256,777 tonnes in 2012 to 306,937 tonnes in 2013. Demand for polyethylene and polypropylene is particularly strong, with 153,136 tonnes and 125,630 tonnes sold, respectively – up from 126,888 tonnes and 95,606 tonnes in 2012.

Leveraging these advantages, Abu Dhabi produced approximately 3.7m tonnes of petrochemical products in 2013, exporting some 2.6m tonnes, according to SCAD. Major products include urea fertiliser, of which the emirate produced 1.34m tonnes in 2013, exporting 1.31m tonnes; polyethylene (950,778 tonnes produced, 838,998 tonnes exported); ammonia (802,561 tonnes produced, 27,438 tonnes exported); and polypropylene (611,260 tonnes produced of which 467,146 exported).

One company making strides in this segment is Borouge, which provides innovative, value-creating plastics solutions for infrastructure, such as pipe systems and power and communications cables, in addition to automotive and advanced packaging applications. The company has just completed the third phase of a multi-year expansion programme, bringing total annual capacity to 4.5m tonnes.

The most recent expansion works include Borouge’s third ethane cracker – the largest in the world – as well as two polyethylene units, two polypropylene units and a low-density polyethylene unit.

Moving forward, Borouge is looking to improve internal operations and, further afield, is considering investments in utilising liquid feedstock such as naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas and light condensate. “Ethane has been all allocated,” Abdulaziz Alhajri, CEO of Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge), told OBG. “It is unlikely that there will be new sources of ethane. If there are, it will be small sources. In light of this, if companies like Borouge want to grow, they will have to look to other alternative feedstocks.”

Alhajri also stressed that emerging markets in Asia and Africa have a low per-capita usage of polymers and plastics compared to more developed markets, and as those economies continue to grow, it is likely their use of such petrochemicals will rise.

As a result, it will be imperative for companies in the segment to invest in their supply chain if they are to enter these high-potential markets in future. This is where additional incentives to encourage production of higher-value-added products would be needed, he added.

“Currently, one-third of Borouge plastics go to China. They are then transformed there, and the converted products are shipped throughout the world,” Alhajri told OBG. “Their labour costs are going up, and the UAE is close to many important markets, so there is a lot of potential for the conversion industry of high value-added plastic goods here.”

Food & Beverages

The food, beverages and tobacco segment is another significant contributor to the local manufacturing sector, with gross output of Dh6.89bn ($1.88bn) and value added of Dh2.46bn ($669.61m) in 2011, rising to Dh7.90bn ($2.15bn) and Dh3bn ($816.6m) in 2012, according to SCAD. Over the same period, gross fixed capital formation in the segment fell slightly from Dh493m ($134.19m) to Dh431m ($117.32m).

Senaat’s Agthia is a major local player in the segment. The company is growing strongly, with net profit rising 28% to Dh160m ($43.5m) in 2013, supported by a solid sales performance and improved margins in both its agribusiness and its consumer goods divisions. Total net sales rose 14% to Dh1.5bn ($411m) in 2013. Agthia’s portfolio includes Al Ain bottled water, its flagship brand, and a leading bottled water player across the UAE. It also produces fresh dairy products under the Yoplait brand, the Capri Sun juice drink, fresh juices, frozen vegetables, tomato paste, frozen bakery products, flour or various kinds and a full range of animal feed products.

Agthia continued to perform well in 2014. Nine-month results reflect sales and profit growth of 9% and 26%, respectively. Iqbal Hamzah, the company’s CEO, said the company is on a growth path, pursuing a strategy of distribution expansion, improving in-store merchandising and visibility, new product launches, acquisitions and creating value by improving profitability. In addition, Agthia also plans to expand bottled water capacity in Turkey and animal feed capacity in the UAE.

Building Materials

In another growth segment, building materials, local producers are well placed to benefit from the slate of upcoming construction projects in the emirate, estimated by Middle East Economic Digest in December 2013 at around $100bn by 2020, including projects in the oil and gas, infrastructure, transport and chemical sectors.

Growth in real estate in Abu Dhabi could also drive growth in the segment. “Industrial real estate is an area that is greatly underserved, especially if we take into consideration Abu Dhabi’s growing trend in manufacturing and retail,” Salem Al Noaimi, CEO of Waha Capital, told OBG, indicating that there could be more positive knock-on effects for related industries going forward.

“Large logistics companies as well as local SMEs are driving demand for warehouses and related services.” One such local producer of building materials is Arkan, part of Senaat’s portfolio, which has an annual capacity of 4m tonnes of clinker and 5.7m tonnes of cement, as well as 35m concrete bricks and 95m plastic bags. In November 2014 Arkan opened the biggest cement plant in the UAE, at Al Ain. The Dh1.3bn ($353.9m) factory has a production capacity of 4m tonnes of clinker and 5.7m tonnes of cement per annum, substantially boosting the country’s total output. The plant is fuelled by natural gas, which will lead to a relatively low carbon footprint, better energy efficiency and lower operational costs, Senaat said in a statement.

The factory will broaden Arkan’s product portfolio as part of its strategy of focusing on core construction materials and supporting the emirate’s diversification. It is geared towards the domestic and regional market, which Arkan expects to continue to grow in the coming years.

Important drivers of regional market growth include the run-up to the Dubai Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022 (which is hosted by Qatar), as well as a number of large-scale projects that are now pushing forward following a slowdown in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Outlook

Abu Dhabi’s industrial strategy aims to leverage competitive advantages in a range of areas. The growth of the manufacturing sector over the past two years, accelerating after the crisis, is testament to the benefits of this approach. Over the coming years, large-scale investments in segments including steel, petrochemicals and food processing will contribute to the continuing expansion of the manufacturing sector. With the oil price declining sharply towards the end of 2014 and into early 2015, industry’s contribution to the economy is certain to rise.

The presence of major international companies in Abu Dhabi is testament to the competitive advantages of locating in the emirate, particularly with an eye on exports to the region and the major emerging markets on either side of it. Over the coming years, organisations such as ZonesCorp also aim to encourage the development of suppliers and service companies, both international and locally owned, to strengthen the in-country value chain, promote employment and skills development among locals, and ensure sustainable long-term growth.

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The Report: Abu Dhabi 2015

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