Rosewood Hotel in Mariah Island in Abu Dhabi hosted today the sixth Emirates International Investment Forum, organized by the Department of Economic Development — Abu Dhabi in cooperation with Institutional Investor and witnessed the participation of more than 270 UAE senior officials and official and commercial delegations and businessmen from around 20 Arab and foreign countries.
HE Nasser Ahmad Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development — Abu Dhabi (DED) welcomed in his speech the forum's participants and said that since the "Emirates International Investment Forum" has been held for the first time in the capital Abu Dhabi in 2008 sponsored and organized by Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development , it has become one of the most important annual investment events in the country in general and in Abu Dhabi in particular and represents today the finest meeting place for prominent investors, businessmen, financial institutions, decision-makers and senior officials in Abu Dhabi.
"It is a great honour to witness with you the launch of the sixth Emirates International Investment Forum here in the new Central Business District in Abu Dhabi (CBD), which is currently experiencing an economic event, the first of its kind, in Sowwah Square, which confirms in fact that the new CBD is well prepared and concretizes the efforts of the Emirate in establishing Sowwah Square as a leading financial district and an integrated headquarters for the latest financial free zone in the Middle East, widely known as "Abu Dhabi Global Market" (ADGM), which was announced at the beginning of this year.", he added.
HE Nasser Al Suwaidi also explained that with the continued uncertainty hovering over investors and the macroeconomic fragility, the global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows have unfortunately failed to maintain the recovery course that started in 2010 and continued through 2011, when FDI flows were a few steps behind the pre-crisis levels.
Nasser Al Suwaidi said that according to the World Investment Report 2013, global FDI flows have declined by 18 per cent last year to reach 1.35 trillion U.S. dollars, compared to 1.408 trillion U.S. dollars in 2010 and 1.65 trillion U.S. dollars in 2011, which further expanded the economic gap, considering the vital levels of pre-crisis investment.
In his speech, HE explicated that the comprehensive examination of the global investment map reveals a decline in global FDI flows, and that the main dynamic developments merit further attention. He further pointed out that for the first time last year, developing countries attracted more FDI flows than developed countries with 52% of global FDI flows, compared to 41.5% for the developed countries, according to the same report.
DED's Chairman stated that in view of the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa, the region's changing investment map and its potential development, greatly enhance the role and status of the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular, as a leading investment hub, supported by its political stability, its competitive macroeconomic environment and the growing confidence of investors.
He pointed out that the United Arab Emirates has seen for the third consecutive year a stable increase in FDI flows, which amounted to 9.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, ranking our national economy as the second largest economy that attracts foreign direct investment flows in the Arab world, according to the statistics released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD).
His Excellency Nasser Al Suwaidi, praised Abu Dhabi's Government active and vigorous efforts, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, which attached great importance to major structural reforms accompanied by measures to enhance competitiveness, granting the national economy its leadership position among the twenty most competitive economies in the world, according to the report of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
HE also noted that the United Arab Emirates lived up from rank 24 to rank 19, at the global level, in the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, which praised UAE's advancement in adopting new technology and techniques contributing to productivity enhancement.
Al Suwaidi said that UAE competitiveness is based on solid foundations such as its high efficient commodity markets, which enabled its economy to rank fourth at the global level, and its strong infrastructure, which led the state to be ranked fifth. UAE also ranked seventh (7) in terms of macroeconomic strong stability, third (3) in terms of high confidence in political leadership and ninth (9) in efficient functioning of the government, which has had a significant impact in raising the state's ability to conquer a place among the most competitive economies in the world.
He added that, in view of the government's keenness to achieve its long-term objectives and given the major challenges faced by the global financial system, the long-term road map of sustainable development along with the Economic Vision 2030 of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi remained unchanged, while its short-term objectives and plans have been reviewed and assessed in order to ensure the Emirate's optimal level of resources in light of the variables and the economic situation on the national and international levels .
HE Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi affirmed in his key-speech that the government's approach has been very successful, as reflected by the announcement in 2012 of the re-activation of a large number of projects led by the government in the tourism, infrastructure and transport sectors, as well as a brilliant initiative launched by the government earlier this year, agreeing to pump 330 billion Dirham (the equivalent of 90 billion U.S. dollars) in development projects over the next five years.
He noted that this initiative involves a large share of the funds allocated for local and international investors as key partners in the ongoing development plans.
He added that, in an effort to take advantage of the great potential of the Middle East, North Africa in general and the United Arab Emirates in particular as an attractive financial hub, the prosperous future road map of Abu Dhabi focused on financial services as one of the main incentives for economic diversification plans in the emirate, in order to enable the financial markets to become the economic sectors and projects' leading financier.
He noted in this context that the announcement of a board of directors for the latest financial free zone in the Emirate and the establishment of an outstanding financial zone put Abu Dhabi at the heart of events and constitutes an important step towards the full activation of ADGM.
Al Suwaidi said that, being in a highly competitive region, ADGM shall differentiate itself through a wide range of measures to enhance competitiveness in addition to its three pillars i.e. the Registration Bureau, the Financial Services Regulations Bureau and the Global Market's Courts. He affirmed that the new financial free zone established adopts the best international practices and is supported by high-level consulting from financial institutions.
HE also pointed out ADGM's determination to offer an attractive financial services package, provided for the first time in the region, which allows it to act as a vital link between Asian and European markets and grants it the ability to host first-class financial services providers. ADGM is also expected to be associated with an active network that includes airports, ports and railway lines and thus become a designated and distinct area in dealing with material goods.
Al Suwaidi said in this context that it is important to highlight the fact that, according to the Financial Times Group, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is the only region in the world that has been able to achieve a growth in FDI outflows in 2012 and that the UAE remained the region's leading country with regard to FDI with an increased share in the total number of FDI projects of 26.44% and an increased FDI market share of nearly 34% in 2012, according to the same source.
He added that the financial services sector confirmed last year its status as the main destination of FDI projects in the region (the Middle East) with approximately 34% of the total FDI in the region, according to "Foreign Direct Investment" -2013 - Financial Times Group's report.
Al Suwaidi also confirmed Abu Dhabi's commitment to its long-term road map and Economic Vision 2030 and pointed out that the efforts made by Abu Dhabi Government over the last five years have resulted in real gains, tangible achievements and the potential of a promising future, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Board.
HE stated that, the latest statistics of key economic diversification priorities in the context of the larger goal to increase the total non-oil GDP in Abu Dhabi, revealed that non-oil activities could maintain their growth course over the past few years and achieved a real growth rate of 7.7% during the past year, compared to 6.7 % in 2011 and 6% in 2010.
He pointed out that the increasing performance of non-oil activities in the past year has been accompanied by a rise in non-oil exports, which increased by more than 34% in 2012, compared to a decrease of 1% in 2011.
HE Nasser Ahmad Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development — Abu Dhabi also explained that the confidence in Abu Dhabi's business climate and companies' optimism have increased owing to the huge projects led by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the multiple opportunities provided for local investors along with the high ability to attract foreign investment and that DED's Business Climate Indicator recorded high levels for the third consecutive quarter.
He mentioned in this context that DED' Confidence in Business Climate Indicator increased by two points during the second quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of the same year and that its results signify an increased improvement in all business activities in light of the current economic conditions in general and facilities' performance in particular, especially during the second quarter of this year, compared to the first quarter of the same year.
Al Suwaidi also stated that in the light of the objective of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 to increase the contribution of FDI to about 23% of GDP by 2030, the Department of Economic Development - Abu Dhabi, in close collaboration with key local and federal stakeholders, has come a long way in this area.
He added that, investors being on top of our priorities, a large amount of work has been done so far in order to realize the main objective, which is to provide them with insight backed by prestigious international services to be able to take advantage of various investment opportunities.
HE Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development - Abu Dhabi expressed at the end of his speech his full confidence in the increasing convenient opportunities to take advantage of the growing investment multiplicity now existing in the United Arab Emirates in general and in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in particular, calling on everyone to take advantage of the best investment opportunities offered by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates in general, to attain gains, prosperity and mutual benefit.
During the opening session of today, His Excellency Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, highlighted in his speech delivered on his behalf by H.E. Abduallah Ahmed AL Saleh, Undersecretary of the ministry of Economy the importance of UAE's location today as a strategic hub for foreign investments and major international companies, owing to its economic components and its prudent policy based on openness, diversity and flexibility, which enabled the country to be a prominent strategic and distinctive investment destination.
HE the Minister confirmed the keenness of the Ministry of Economy to develop the country's economic legislative system, affirming that it continues to work on completion of a set of draft laws to enhance the performance of business and investment climate in the state, most notably the foreign investment law, corporate, industry and small and medium enterprises and competition and intellectual property rights protection, all in final stages. The Minister added that the new investment law ensures greater protection for foreign investors in addition to incentives to encourage foreign investment and aims to promote and develop the investment climate of the state and to diversify the economic activity in line with UAE Vision 2021.
HE praised the motivating investment environment reflected in the political stability and security, full business ownership in free zones, advanced infrastructure, availability of efficient and highly qualified human resources, the protection of intellectual property rights, laws against piracy and the strategic geographical location of the UAE, which is the gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and offers major global companies ideal investment opportunities.
His Excellency mentioned UAE's living up in the overall competitiveness of its economy by five ranks in one year, exceeding countries such as France, Ireland and Australia and scoring advanced global positions by many indicators. The state also ranked first globally in a number of sub-indicators such as the quality of the roads, the absence of organized crime and the contention of inflation effects. The state ranked second in the world in FDI and technology transfer, third in the world in the citizens' confidence in political leaders and fourth in the markets' efficiency. The UAE government ranked third globally in government procurement of advanced technology index, fourth in the quality of infrastructure, second in the lack of impact of crime on the business sector and third worldwide in air transport infrastructure.
The forum witnessed the participation of each of HE Fahd Al Raqabani, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, Rashid Al Balushi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), Mahmood Ibrahim Al Mahmood, CEO of "Las Securities", Alex Thorsba, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Bank (NBAD), Khaled Salmeen Al Kuwari, CEO and Managing Director of Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad).
The discussion sessions considered several topics that highlighted the most prominent investment opportunities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Emirate's distinguishing strengths as a foreign investment hub, in light of the government's support to the economy by pumping money for the implementation of several development projects in the industrial, financial, business, trade, energy, education, health, and other sectors.