UAE on track to achieve its industrial ambitions, says Dr Al Jaber

The UAE has developed a comprehensive road map to support the growth of the local industrial sector with several new initiatives launched to support public and private partnership within the sector, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, has said.

While the UAE has achieved significant progress, the industrial sector still has much work to do to keep pace with that growth and the country’s ambitions for the future, Dr Al Jaber told state news agency Wam in an interview.

“As such, the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) will continue to exert every effort to enable the sector, enhance its role in stimulating the national economy and increase its contribution to the GDP [gross domestic product] to Dh300 billion ($81.7bn) by 2031,” he said.

Here’s the interview in full.

The World Government Summit (WGS) concluded last week at Expo 2020 Dubai. How do you see the importance of the summit in anticipating the future, specifically in the industrial sector?

The WGS is a global knowledge exchange platform specifically designed to shape future governments and create a better future for humanity. While past editions presented an invaluable platform for discussion and knowledge sharing, I think this year in particular was very critical. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has truly shed light on the importance of resilience, long-term planning and future-proofing, all of which are core to the discussions at the WGS.

I would like to congratulate the WGS organisers for ensuring that we came together again, despite the pandemic, to discuss some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Bringing together presidents, heads of state, ministers, senior officials and thought leaders, WGS embodies the vision of the UAE leadership in establishing our nation as a centre of gravity for inclusive and collaborative progress.

This year’s summit, which brought together 4,000 participants and 30 international entities from 190 countries and took place one day before the closing of Expo 2020 Dubai, focused its attention on how future governments will harness technology and digital transformation, which is a main pillar for us at the MoIAT as we seek to empower industry by empowering advanced technology application.

In playing its part as a regulatory and legislative authority mandated with creating a conducive system for industrial growth, the ministry is committed to enabling industry, identifying sectors of strategic priority and empowering industry’s contribution to the national GDP.

How do you see the success of the UAE in organising Expo 2020 Dubai and what are its implications for the industrial sector?

I think the numbers, level of engagement and convening power speak for themselves. Over 24 million guests, 192 nations, in addition to international organisations, came together over a span of six months to truly connect minds and create the future.

Simply put, Expo 2020 Dubai, despite global unprecedented challenges, was a resounding success and a testament to our leadership’s perseverance and unwavering vision.

Expo 2020 Dubai is and will continue to be a reflection of the world’s confidence in our nation and its ability to mobilise and motivate positive social and economic progress. It has been an honour to be a part of the Expo 2020 higher committee that supported the effort.

The MoIAT is committed to continuing to connect minds and create the future through its engagements with the public and private sectors and all stakeholders to realise the ambitions of our leadership in the industrial sector and achieve sustainable industrial economic growth.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, delivered remarks about national industry at WGS. Can you give us your comments about his speech?

The remarks of Sheikh Mansour during WGS embody the vision of the UAE’s leadership to advance the country’s national industrial sector.

The remarks presented a comprehensive road map highlighting the strategic importance of developing the industrial sector and its role in enhancing self-sufficiency and resilience, diversifying the economy, supporting national manufacturing and enhancing competitiveness.

Sheikh Mansour also outlined the critical importance of developing the industrial sector and spoke of the historical relationship that the people of the UAE had with the sea as a vehicle for trade.

He highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic brought to light the importance of empowering vital industrial sectors such as food, pharmaceuticals and defence, and stressed the significance of increasing the contribution of the industrial sector to the GDP.

Sheikh Mansour also sent a very clear message on the importance of confidence in partnerships, emphasising the UAE’s unique value proposition as an attractive destination for local, regional and international investors offering transparency, reliability, flexibility and a willingness to develop and amend laws to serve national interests and the interests of investors.

And finally, he also highlighted that the leadership is adamant that UAE citizens take advantage of this drive for industrial development and actively contribute to the nation’s economic diversification efforts.

As a regulatory and legislative authority for the industrial sector, the ministry will continue to work and co-operate with local partners to implement the [country’s] strategic objectives. By doing so we can achieve the national vision aimed at encouraging the growth of the industrial sector, improving its performance and enhancing its competitiveness in line with the UAE’s ambitions for the next 50 years.

MoIAT is the regulatory and legislative authority for the industrial sector. Wam

Can you elaborate on the role of the MoIAT in supporting the growth of the industrial sector in the UAE during the coming decades?

To answer this question, we have to go back to the beginning. Until recently, and more specifically up until the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry was just a sector associated with a ministry. That changed in July 2020 with the establishment of a stand-alone Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology when the portfolio of the industry was merged with the Standards and Metrology Authority as well as the Advanced Technology mandate to establish a solid base and an independent body focused specifically on developing and regulating the industrial sector and enhancing industrial competitiveness to build industrial resilience and realise the national development agenda.

The mandate of the ministry is to increase the industrial sector’s GDP contribution and ensure a sustainable knowledge-based economy centred on the adoption of advanced technology empowered by the National In-Country Value Programme [ICV programme] and focused on key priority industrial sectors.

With that in mind, the ministry immediately went to work on preparing the National Strategy for Industry and Advanced Technology, which is based on two tracks.

The first track focuses on empowering the development of our existing and priority industries and the second track is focused on developing new competitive advantages for the industries of the future.

To achieve those tracks, the strategy includes more than 16 initiatives and projects. Implementation has begun and the ministry continues to work on ensuring that it creates the environment and ecosystem that empowers the much-needed major leap in this vital sector.

The strategy of the ministry has four objectives: Creating a suitable and attractive business environment for local and international investors, supporting the growth of national industries and enhancing their competitiveness, stimulating innovation and the adoption of advanced technology in the industrial sector, and implementing solutions to highlight the nation’s unique value proposition as a leading global destination for industries of the future.

In an effort to ensure that the strategy is built in a practical, relevant and inclusive way, the ministry organised a series of Future of Industry Dialogue sessions with industrialists and stakeholders. These engagements are ongoing and continue to be critical to enhancing ways to facilitate the advancement of the sector and remove any barriers.

The UAE has achieved significant growth and progress across various sectors. However, the industrial sector still has much work to do to keep pace with that growth and our leadership’s ambitions for the future. As such, the MoIAT will continue to exert every effort to support the sector, enhance its role in stimulating the national economy and increase its contribution to the GDP to Dh300bn [$81.68bn] by 2031.

What are the main pillars on which the ministry is founded?

Stemming from its federal role as a legislative and regulatory authority, the ministry is working to create an investment, legislative and technical ecosystem that is conducive to the growth of the industrial sector.

The ministry does this in co-ordination, co-operation and integration with all federal and local authorities, and in consultation with partners from the private sector, through the Industrial Development Council, the Standards and Metrology Steering Committee, and the National Committee for the National ICV Programme.

The strategy is enabled through four pillars.

The first is to provide enablers for industrial sector growth supportive legislation that attracts partners, investors and talent from around the world.

The second is to enhance the competitive advantages of national products across priority sectors such as food and medicine, heavy industries such as iron and aluminium, as well as defence, electrical industries and petrochemicals. In addition, this will focus on capacity building in future industries, such as space, hydrogen and agricultural technology.

The third is to strengthen the national industry by supporting the adoption of advanced technology, which in turn enhances production quality, operational efficiencies and, as a result, consumer satisfaction.

And finally, our fourth pillar focuses on incentive programmes such as the ICV Programme to empower national industries to enhance their competitiveness and expand their growth.

We already have some great success stories in the UAE of industrial companies that we support and enable.

Borouge, for example, is a leading company in the petrochemicals industry that produces polyolefins and, in fact, is the fourth largest producer in Asia and the Middle East. The company has multiplied its production ten-fold since 2001. Today, it produces 5 million tonnes of polyolefins annually with sales of more than $6bn in 2021.

Borouge has announced the successful launch of its fifth polypropylene unit (PP5) in Ruwais. Photo: Adnoc

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