In his speech to the UAE Global Investment Forum, Naser Ahmed Al Suwaidi said the government is also looking to knock down old barriers to foreign direct investment to enable capital to flow into the emirate. He highlighted changes in the economic system, specifically the banking sector, as proof of the government’s commitment to change.
The emirate is a distinctively attractive investment destination, he said, as it has a strong infrastructure, big industrial zones, a world-class port and airport, oil projects, international cities and a skilled labour force. Abu Dhabi’s share of FDI totalled $5bn (Dh18.36bn) out of the UAE’s total of $19bn in 2006. The latter figure forms a third of the FDI flowing into the Middle East and North Africa, according to the department’s statistics.
Foreign and local investments in the UAE jumped to $37bn in 2006 compared to $2.24bn in 2001.“We have in Abu Dhabi a positive attitude towards foreign investment in all economy sectors. We welcome foreign partnership that brings us advantage and profits,” Al Suwaidi said.
The UAE is continuing GCC commercial negotiations with some of its biggest trade partners, including India, China, Australia, South Korea and the European Union.
Waleed Ahmed Al Muqarab Al Muhairi, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, also speaking at the forum, predicted inflation in Abu Dhabi would decline within five or seven years.
“Abu Dhabi and Dubai governments intervened by introducing a rent cap. But what is required is pumping a big number of units into the real estate market to create a balance between supply and demand. This will not happen before five years at least,” said Al Muhairi.
As far as Dubai is concerned, Nasser Al Saidi, chief economist at the Dubai International Financial Centre, said the next five years will see new projects worth $780bn in the emirate.
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