This initiative isn’t new, is it?
No, not exactly. Back in June, the Abu Dhabi government approved an AED50bn package of measures that would be spent over the next three years on trying to further kick-start the emirate’s economy, which has been gradually improving since the sluggish performance in 2017 – a year that saw GDP contract by 0.5 percent in real terms, according to ratings agency S&P. It coincided with a range of measures put in place by Dubai, such as 10-year visas and new foreign ownership rules.
So what do we know?
The three-year initiative, which was unveiled by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, last week, will operate under the umbrella banner of Ghadan 21 – “ghadan” being the Arabic for “tomorrow” – and will comprise 50 separate programmes “that reflect the priorities of citizens, residents and investors”, he said. Of the allocated AED50bn, AED20bn will be spent in 2019 and among other goals it is hoped it will help create 10,000 jobs for Emiratis.
Where will it be spent?
The Ghadan 21 initiative has been divided into four pillars: business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation, and lifestyle. In the first, the emphasis will be on supporting industry and small businesses, promoting investment and focusing on key sectors such as renewable energy. Social programmes will include new housing and transport projects, as well as an uplift in education standards, while the development of a knowledge economy will be encouraged by supporting tech companies and R&D centres.
Have any specific measures been announced?
A few, yes. We already knew that the government will exempt new business licence applicants from requiring a physical presence in the emirate in the first two years, there is a now a process of “instant licensing” for most commercial license types, and a commitment to speed payments to private-sector contractors. Newer details include reducing electricity fees for UAE factories, with as much as a 29 percent drop for large factories and 10-22 percent for small and medium-sized units.
In conjunction with the Ghadan 21 plans, there has also been an immediate injection of funds into the UAE General Sports Authority (AED6.82m), the National Media Council (AED3.92m) and the Emirates Space Agency (AED3.5m).
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