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Professor Dr. Jean-Yves de Cara, the Executive Director of the Paris-Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi poses for a portrait following an interview on July 18, 2011, in his office at the university campus in Abu Dhabi. (Silvia Razgova/The National)
Professor Dr. Jean-Yves de Cara, the Executive Director of the Paris-Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi poses for a portrait following an interview on July 18, 2011, in his office at the university campus in Abu Dhabi. (Silvia Razgova/The National)

Diversification is an important plank in the long-term outlook

Abu Dhabi Model Economies: The National's special series on the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 looks at trade with the capital.

Historic photos hung in the halls of the Universite Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi to illustrate just how developed the capital's network of ports, roads and airports have become over the past 40 years.

But while Abu Dhabi has certainly become better connected to trading partners around the world through newly developed infrastructure, it still has a way to go before it can cut its reliance on oil to its target of 36 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Last week, Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi reported the oil sector still accounted for 49.7 per cent of the capital's GDP last year, up slightly from 49 per cent the year before.

To help accomplish the Government's goal as outlined in its 2030 vision, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has recently been attending international trade shows in places such as China, South Korea and Germany to promote the capital while boosting trade and investment from different countries.

About a dozen partners have joined the organisation, including the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, the local chamber of commerce and a handful of private companies in various sectors.

Meanwhile, the emirate's free zones have also stimulated trade and investment from foreign companies. The Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, which is already home to Emirates Aluminium, is planned to occupy an area two-thirds the size of Singapore and fully open by the end of next year. Combined, this and other efforts drew some Dh86.6 billion (US$23.57bn) worth of commodity imports to the capital last year, predominantly in the form of machinery and transport equipment.

The Government has also been fostering unique tie-ups between different organisations to boost the flow of services, as well as knowledge in sectors such as education and the arts. The Universite Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi has created graduate degrees in fields highlighted within the Economic Vision, including urban planning and tourism.

The school custom-built a master's degree in art history and museum studies linked to Saadiyat Island, due to be home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

" Because the 2030 vision is that of a post-oil society and knowledge-based economy, what you need first is to have educated people and world-class education," says Dr Jean-Yves de Cara, the executive director of Universite Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi.

* Neil Parmar

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