One thing that all Al Gharbia residents would agree on: their hometown is changing. And it's certainly changing for the better with many new development projects coming to the region.
The Western region is a major generator of wealth; it contributes 45 per cent of the country's GDP. The government of Abu Dhabi has invested a huge sum of money in the last decade to transform the region's landscape, and the approval by the Executive Council to spend Dh267.5million on projects to improve the 80-kilometre motorway linking Madinat Zayed with Ghayathi earlier this month is an example.
In recent years, the region has become home to major renewable energy projects: the UAE's civil nuclear programme in Barakah, and Shams 1, the country's first large-scale solar power plant and the largest in the Middle East. Al Gharbia's development is an important component in the country's strategy to diversify the economy.
As The National reports today, the Western Region Development Council announced during Al Gharbia Development Forum yesterday that it is also aiming to attract private sector investment, offering property developers nearly 4 million square feet of development land in the seven towns of the Western Region free of charge. Local developers have already invested in housing, and will be required to provide community services such as shopping areas.
The plan is sound, as it will offer many opportunities for both investors and residents. Private sector investments will bring much needed homes, shops, healthcare and community services, and at the same time, create many jobs for residents, who make up 11 per cent of the population of Abu Dhabi emirate.
The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has also announced plans to target 12,000 nationals in the Western Region aged between 35 and 60 year-old who are qualified as entrepreneurial candidates and offer them the financial support to start new businesses.
This would open doors for those who face difficulties travelling or finding job opportunities, and benefit women who make up only 4 per cent of the workforce that is dominated by jobs in the oil and gas sector.