As Abu Dhabi develops its manufacturing sector, and particularly the high-value part of the industry, quality and conformity have become ever more important. To this end, the government has been putting in place a quality and conformity regulatory infrastructure. The overall aim is to improve standards to increase competitiveness on the international market, boost value domestically and enhance consumer safety.
In 2009 the government passed a law establishing the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC) to ensure provision of quality infrastructure in line with global standards. “The development of quality infrastructure is integral to preventing sub-par and harmful products from being imported into the country, to protect the local consumer,” Hussain Salem Al Katheeri, QCC secretary-general, told OBG. “The goal is to brand Abu Dhabi as a hub for quality manufacturing, establishing a quality mark for local manufacturers based on meeting the highest standards.” QCC was formally launched in 2011, and it established two committees to look into priority sectors. One oversees water, energy, the built environment and waste, and the other, food, agriculture, health care and medicine.
Areas Of Activity
The council operates in six main areas of activity: standards, metrology infrastructure, testing infrastructure, conformity schemes and certification, consumer safety and legal metrology. QCC is expected to review and oversee Abu Dhabi’s standards regime in products and services, under delegated authority from Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA). Through harmonising, developing and publicising standards, the QCC aims to ensure that Abu Dhabi businesses meet and maintain national and international requirements, including those of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In metrology infrastructure, similarly the QCC aims to ensure harmonisation with international measurements, while providing high-quality calibration services to industry – with effects such as reducing machinery down-time. The QCC is consolidating the existing testing infrastructure into a central testing laboratory to test and certify products against its standards, reducing the cost to regulators of testing, and helping stakeholders, including importers and consumers, ensure that goods are up to standard.
One of the QCC’s most successful initiatives has been in conformity and certification, in its establishment of the Abu Dhabi Trustmarks. These voluntary, opt-in schemes award certification to companies that meet quality or safety requirements or both for various products, personnel and services. Trustmarks are available in 14 different product areas from biodiesel through children’s toys to household electrical appliances. The QCC’s consumer safety division has a range of responsibilities: it works to control goods that pose health and safety risks to the people of Abu Dhabi through continuously monitoring the market in partnership with relevant authorities. It also develops policy, publishes a list of “controlled products”, promotes conformity marks, manages product risk and oversees product recalls. In legal metrology, the QCC manages the inspection and verification of pre-packaged goods and commercial measuring equipment to ensure that companies and organisations are using the same standards.
In September 2013, the QCC launched the Manaa Portal, an online, interactive product recall and incident reporting system that displays recalled and retracted products that have not met the safety standards. It allows consumers to see images, model numbers and the reasons for withdrawal from the market, and encourages feedback on unsafe products.
One of the QCC’s most important partnerships is with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, which operates its own Emirates Quality Mark. In 2013 the Emirates Quality Mark was extended to bottled water, ensuring the safety of the product and the biodegradability of the bottles. “Capacity expansion is required to support regulations and the industry,” said Al Katheeri. “This provides the private sector with opportunities to play a role through investments in facilities such as labs and test sites.”