The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Engineer Sultan Bin Saeed Almansoori, has responded positively to the UAE’s GDP growth rate of 1.3% while addressing several of the key challenges the country is facing. This at the opening of the Abu Dhabi Outlook Summit held at the Hilton, Abu Dhabi, UAE on November 2, 2009.
Acknowledging the significant contributions SME’s have made to the country’s GDP, Almansoori said: “The UAE is not an exclusive club for the rich, but a nation dedicated to promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship. We believe in the importance of small and medium enterprises and the role they can play in shaping our economy.”
According to a recent report, more than 98% of businesses registered in Dubai are micro, small or medium enterprises.
Referring to the Global Competiveness Report 2009-10 at the World Economic Forum – on which the UAE achieved 23rd position - Almansoori commented: “We have proved to the world that with clear focus, objectives, structure and strategy, even the toughest of challenges can be overcome. It is often said that adversity distinguishes the strong from the weak. The global financial crisis was an adversity that tested every nation.”
According to Almansoori, Abu Dhabi is a hub for capital flow - to and from the region, with the emirate currently overseeing projects worth over $100billion.
According to Almansoori, there is a clear indication that Abu Dhabi has defied the impact of the global financial crisis and continues to thrive, with planned medium-term investments implemented through Public Private Partnerships in infrastructure development, real estate and manufacturing sector expected to reach one trillion dollars. This will lead to an extraordinary demand for building materials and technological innovations, boosting the economy further.
Almansoori also announced that for the sixth time in a row, Abu Dhabi has achieved a zero-deficit budget. The 2010 budget has scheduled an increase of 3.4% in spending to Dhs43.6bn ($11.9bn), an amount that should impact positively on job creation, with a qualified manpower base giving thinking and creativity a global outlook.
During his speech, Almansoori acknowledged the emirate’s initiatives in renewable energy as well as the concerted efforts it has made on climate change, stating: “Moving away from the perception of a nation driven by oil wealth, today we are recognised as a diversified economy - as one of the nations that wisely invested our wealth in infrastructure creation. Our total non-oil trade was at Dhs792bn last year, an increase of 42% over the previous year.”
Reflecting on the growth in non-oil sectors, Almansoori revealed that the Federal budget has set aside 41% - equivalent to Dhs17.8bn ($4.9bn) - for education, healthcare and social affairs.
Almansoori emphasised the supreme vote of confidence the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has in the UAE economy at the 14th session of the Federal National Council held in September this year, saying: “Despite all the negative effects of the crisis - which hit all countries of the world - we have proved that our economy is solid and capable of absorbing its various ramifications.”
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