City of Promises – Aired April 2008
As countries in the Arabian Gulf race to modernise and expand, now more than ever they are seeking to attract the best talents there are in the world.
What does the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, offer both potential investors and job-seekers?
Which are the most promising sectors in the emirate? And how are the players in these sectors coping with the fast-paced changes in the city?
Join Asia Business Channel as we explore this city of promises, and take a closer look at what it has to offer.
The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, lies in the heart of the Arabian Gulf. It was formed in 1971, after the British pulled out of ruling the area.
The largest, the richest and the most heavily populated emirate is Abu Dhabi. It accounts for over 60% of the UAE’s GDP, with enough oil reserves to last another century.
Both the political and business capital of the federation, it has a per capita GDP that is higher than that of several European countries, and is well on its way to becoming a state-of-the-art metropolis.
As one of its leaders highlights, the city already has a strong vision.
Abu Dhabi is the place to do business in the region. It has a strong entrepreneurial culture, and is the wealthiest of all the emirates.
Almost everywhere in Abu Dhabi there is evidence of development and change. Buildings that are deemed not up to the standards of this rising metropolis are torn down to make way for newer and higher structures.
But does this fast pace of development mean that the city’s natural environment is being overlooked?
The government of Abu Dhabi has come up with a long-term plan for the city – The Urban Structure Framework Plan, also known as “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030”. It outlines a way to take advantage of the economic opportunities at hand, without sacrificing the character of the city. Opportunities for growth and new elements that will help to make it a metropolis are also highlighted.
The incentives to invest in Abu Dhabi are plenty. Apart from a tax-free environment and physical security, the rate of return available in the city is one of the highest in the region. The government is also keen to make investors feel very welcome.
With its stable economy, open markets, and a sound regulatory framework, Abu Dhabi offers many concrete investment opportunities.
The UAE plays a key role in global affairs, holding nearly 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves, and the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Under the UAE’s constitution, each emirate controls its own oil production and development.
Abu Dhabi is the largest oil producer in the UAE, controlling 85% of the federation’s total oil output and 90% of crude reserves.
Abu Dhabi handles all its production through joint ventures with international partners. Oil companies from Japan, France, the UK and others, own up to 40% of the energy sector in Abu Dhabi.
The energy sector in Abu Dhabi has undergone a successful privatisation programme.
The Director of Privatisation at the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority tells us more.
Potential investors can look forward to more such successful partnerships in the sector.
One of the first steps in privatizing traditionally government-led services, is the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector. After around 3 decades of monopoly, there are now 2 telecommunication operators in the country – Etisalat and du.
Among the Arab States, the UAE has the highest penetration for fixed line, mobile and internet, and now has the 2nd largest telecommunications sector in the region.
Acknowledging that the telecommunications sector in the UAE is linked to the economic success of the country, the players in the sector are keen that the facilities available should be top-notch.
With these further initiatives and liberalisation, the telecommunications sector in the UAE is one to keep an eye on in the region.
A destination for the discerning traveller, Abu Dhabi brings together old world charm and cosmopolitan sophistication in a clean and safe environment.
Abu Dhabi expects to attract 3 million tourists by 2015, and to increase its hotel rooms to 25,000. In view of this, the government is already investing heavily in the sector.
One of the key developments is the construction of a new airport terminal to accommodate the expected arrivals.
International players in the hospitality industry are also jumping on the bandwagon in anticipation of the boom in the tourism sector.
The emirate’s offering of year-round sunshine and the strong tradition of desert hospitality continues to welcome every visitor.
At the Heritage Village, past crafts such as carpet-weaving, sword-making and leatherwork are all re-enacted. Scenes of traditional village life have been re-created to give visitors a glimpse of what it was like. There is also a mini-souk where tourists can purchase a local memento of their visit.
A visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a good way for tourists to learn more about the country’s heritage. The small but comprehensive museum provides insight into this much-loved sport. At the functioning hospital, visitors are welcome to watch and learn more about the different species.
A popular way to see the desert is an organised half-day desert safari. After a visit to a camel camp, there is a thrilling ride down the desert sand dunes. This is followed by dinner at a campsite, where the revellers are entertained by a belly-dancer late into the night.
With a strong foundation already in place, Abu Dhabi’s position as a prime and safe location looks set to climb, and she will remain a popular choice for many investors and job-seekers as the emirate continues to strive towards sustainable development.
Further, as the city’s leaders point out, Abu Dhabi and Asia share ties that go back a long way.