Abu Dhabi announced yesterday that its long-term target of achieving annual growth of seven per cent in its economy remains on track despite the adverse effects of the global economic crisis and the collapse of crude prices.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Planning and Economy (DPE) said the industrial sector would play a vital role in achieving that target and diversifying the emirate's sources of income which are heavily reliant on volatile oil sales.
DPE's Undersecretary Mohammed Omar Abdullah said the growth target is within the emirate's Vision-2030 aimed at attracting investment, diversifying the economy and meeting a steady and rapid increase in the population.
"Vision 2030 has set economic diversification as the pillar of our economic plans during that period… we still aim to achieve seven per cent real growth in the overall economy and this of course will help restore the balance to the non-oil trade," Abdullah told the seminar on the industry's role in diversification in Musaffah.
"This in turn will create the right environment for the development of businesses and all sectors in the emirate, including industry, tourism and other sectors."
Abdullah said oil is still the main provider of hard currency for Abu Dhabi, adding that massive hydrocarbon exports have allowed the emirate to record large surpluses in its overall trade and current account balances.
"We are now working within Vision-2030 to lessen reliance on oil exports to ensure sustained economic growth through a clear diversification programme… we are pushing ahead with programmes to develop all non-oil sectors that will allow us to achieve viable growth away from unpredictable hydrocarbon exports… we will focus on capital-intensive and export oriented projects which we believe will enable us to realise these objectives," he said.
In recent comments, another DPE official said the ambitious growth target of seven per cent remains in force despite a deepening global crisis, credit tightness, and economic downturn in many countries.
DPE's International Economic Relations Executive Director, Hamad Al Mass, said the plan is to turn Abu Dhabi into one of the best five places in the world in terms of economic and human development.
He explained that the target is an annual average and that in some years growth could either exceed or fall short of the target.
High spending has allied with massive investments by the government and the private sector over the past few years to sharply boost Abu Dhabi's economy, which has accounted for more than 60 per cent of the UAE's total GDP.
In 2007, Abu Dhabi's GDP jumped by 18.7 per cent to Dh436.8 billion from Dh368.7bn in 2006 and growth was expected to have slowed down to 14.8 per cent to push the GDP to Dh502.2bn.
Figures by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed the private sector leaped by 19 per cent in 2007 and around 7.4 per cent in 2008 while the public sector swelled by 13 and 9.1 per cent in the same period. The oil sector shot up by around 19.7 per cent in 2007 and nearly 18.2 per cent in 2008.