The authority running Abu Dhabi’s industrial zones says it will launch Energy Capital project aimed at the oil and gas sector.
Investment in Abu Dhabi industrial areas has totalled more than Dh8.4bn and there are plans to increase the number of industrial areas in the capital to 11 with Dh12.4bn investment.
Abu Dhabi has put strategic industries at the top of its priority list as it is keen to develop its economy to be in line with growth, whether in terms of Dh367bn revenue earned from the local market in 2006 or the growth in the rate of foreign trade, which stood at Dh281.7bn.
The priorities are reflected in the creation of compounds of strategic industries and the transformation of Abu Dhabi into a centre for industry, services and logistic supplies.
The Abu Dhabi Government has tried to implement its aims through Zones Corp or Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones.
Jaber Al Khaili, CEO of Zones Corp, said the latest plan was Energy Capital project, which is specialised in oil, gas and commercial services related to the needs of the energy sector. Although he declined to reveal the total investments made in the project, he indicated that the development, which extends more than 36 hectares, has reached the final phase of the master plan. The project will focus on bringing in competitive industries, such as those working in the energy field, along with industries banking on capital, latest technology and lean labour force.
Zones Corp runs the Abu Dhabi Industrial City (ICAD 1), which is dedicated to heavy- and medium-size engineering and complementary industries.
Due to the increase in demand for rental space in industrial areas, the Abu Dhabi Industrial City (ICAD2) was launched. It is dedicated to light and medium engineering and complementary industries. It extends more than 11 square kilometres and attracts direct and indirect investments valued at more than Dh9bn.
Also announced was the start of work on the infrastructure of Abu Dhabi Industrial City (ICAD Three) for light- and medium-size engineering and complementary industries with focus on “internationalism”.
The project will be built on more than 12 square kilometres. There is also Al Ain Industrial City with focus on light and medium engineering and supplementary industries. The total area will be 10 square kilometres and more than 60 per cent of the land has been allocated to projects. The city will officially open in February.
Al Khaili said the number of factories operating in Abu Dhabi will exceed 500 when work on the three industrial cities is completed.
Investment in the factories will amount to Dh20bn, and they will accommodate more than 100,000 workers.
Al Khaili said Abu Dhabi has many elements to attract industrial investments given the emirate’s strategic geographical position. It is also witnessing a huge growth in gross domestic product. The emirate has advance infrastructure and networks and means of transport and shipping available, he said.
He said the UAE is one of the most stable countries politically in the Middle East and North Africa, which highly facilitates access to regional and world markets.
Al Khaili says Zones Corp is the company that represents the industrial sector.
He said in light of the government strategy for 2030, an industrial strategy has been set up for the corporation based on development of the industrial sector over the next five years. Zones Corp relies on its own institutions to develop the quality of local industries to reach international quality and competitiveness.
The corporation is currently working on the establishment of a specialised company to promote investment opportunities at industrial areas according to world standards. It is also seeking help from the experience of countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia to select industries that would suit Abu Dhabi.
Al Khaili said steps have been taken to prevent trading in land allocated for industrial investment. The land is the property of the state and has been leased under the POT system for more than 30 years and on highly competitive prices.
However, if an industry fails to build its project in six months, it risks having the land withdrawn and leased to a second investor, he said.
He said so far about 10 per cent of the land in Industrial City One has been withdrawn and given to other investors since the demand for land exceeds supply. Al Khaili said Zones Corp has sought to create serious investment opportunities through partnership with the private sector as a basic and strategic partner to take part in building the infrastructure of industrial cities.
This mechanism has attracted big investment from Macquarie Bank of Australia to build infrastructure projects of the three industrial cities, a factor that has helped move the economy and find job opportunities.
He said foreign investments are not one-sided but formed through partnership with UAE nationals owning 51 per cent, while the rest is in the hands of the foreign partner to ensure expertise, technology and know-how.
The executive director believes that small- and medium-size industries enjoy priority and therefore a system will be established to support them based on co-operation with Khalifa Fund for supporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
Also through the fund, a system will be set up to allocate plot of land where nurseries can be built for reasonable prices for owners of small projects to enable them start their work.
Al Khaili said Zones Corp will establish professional and craftwork institutes for nationals who fail to continue their education so that they may be provided work in factories.
He said in an effort to develop Abu Dhabi’s economy by finding non-oil resources, the emirate’s government started to support economic sectors and industrial zones to boost the gross domestic product, a move that started to show positive results last year. The signals started to appear with the announcement of future projects, said Al Khaili.
He said Law Number Three of 2004, which provides for the establishment of Zones Corp in Abu Dhabi, aims to secure an integrated infrastructure and specialised and distinguished services to make Abu Dhabi a prominent place for local and international investment, said Al Khaili.