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Abu Dhabi reviews capital projects spending under five-year financial plan

The Abu Dhabi Government is carrying out a review of its spending on capital projects, including media investments, as it puts the finishing touches on its second five-year financial plan.

The Abu Dhabi Government is carrying out a review of its spending on capital projects, including media investments, as it puts the finishing touches on its second five-year financial plan.

According to Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the national security adviser and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Government is looking at ways of adapting its short-term policies in light of the global financial crisis in its 2013-2017 budget.

In his interview last month with the financial think tank Oxford Business Group, Sheikh Hazza said that the Government was "actively reviewing" its investment in sectors such as media to ensure they "generate a contribution" to the country's GDP.

"Since 2008 the global economy has been under severe pressure, and this has been compounded by unsettled geopolitical events across the Middle East," he said.

"The banking crisis has evolved into a sovereign debt crisis which caused widespread damage to the global financial system.

"Political actors and government leaders across the world are now facing serious challenges.

"It was within this context that the Abu Dhabi Government decided to carry out an extensive review of its capital projects, with the aim of optimising our resources while effectively addressing the strategic issues that emerged as a result of changes in the global economy," he added.

"Our long-term strategy, as articulated in the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, remains unchanged, yet it was clear that our short-term priorities needed to be altered to accommodate the changing realities on the ground."

The Abu Dhabi Government uses the five-year economic development strategy to choose the short-term goals and priorities to budget for in order to achieve its longer term Vision 2030.

The new five-year budget will succeed the initial plan that lasted from 2008 until 2012 and focused on rapid and sustainable GDP growth, diversifying the economy away from the oil sector and integrating Abu Dhabi into the global economy by showcasing the emirate as an attractive investment hub.

According to Sheikh Hazza, the emirate's economic diversification strategy is evolving in eight areas: cultural tourism, aviation, manufacturing, media, health care, petrochemicals, financial services and renewable energy.

He said that the emirate's current priorities have been reflected in the list of projects announced by the Executive Council at the start of the year.

In January the Abu Dhabi Government announced a Dh330 billion (US$89.84bn) spending package that included investing Dh3bn in housing loans, developing 12,500 homes. It also gave the green light for work to start on the delayed Dh2.4bn Louvre project on Saadiyat Island after Arabtec was awarded the contract.

"The Abu Dhabi Louvre and the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim museums projects on Saadiyat Island will form the cornerstone of our strategy of diversifying cultural tourism," Sheikh Hazza said.

He added that Abu Dhabi had started building capacity in the high-tech aviation industry through Mubadala's investment in the Strata aerospace manufacturing facility in Al Ain and had invested heavily in the aluminium, steel, copper and petrochemicals sectors through state-owned General Holding Corporation.

The healthcare and renewable energy sectors were also high on Abu Dhabi's priorities, with work continuing on the Cleveland Clinic on Al Maryah Island and the Shams solar power plant near Madinat Zayed.

Sheikh Hazza also said that the Government was setting strict standards to make sure that the investment programme benefits the private sector in the emirate and is privatising some services so that in future it could concentrate on issues of policy development and managing the emirate's affairs.

The Government also plans to increase investment in research and development and to raise the standards of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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