ABU DHABI // Forty billion down, one trillion to go. Fresh from a successful first Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit, Abu Dhabi is gearing up to spend as much as 25 times the amount committed to Yas Island on building up its infrastructure, including roads, power plants and a metro. It represents a stimulus package that rivals those offered in the developed world. "This will lead to extraordinary demand for building materials and technological innovations, thus boosting the economy further," said Sultan bin Saeed al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy.
Boosting Abu Dhabi's infrastructure and manufacturing sector is central to the UAE's plans to wean its economy off oil. Economists also see such spending as a key to reviving growth after the global recession by creating jobs, lowering the costs of running businesses and attracting more foreign investment. Infrastructure will account for 17.5 per cent of the Dh43.6 billion (US$11.9bn) budget for 2010 announced by the Ministry of Finance last week.
When dipping into the stimulus fund, planners will use the development of the US$40 billion Yas Island as a template for future projects. At a panel discussion about the Yas Marina Circuit held by New York University Abu Dhabi last month, Khaldoon al Mubarak, the circuit chairman, said the development would act as a blueprint for the city's future. "We used Yas as almost the future urban component within the overall city of Abu Dhabi and we wanted to test things out," he said.