ABU DHABI // More than US$100 billion will be spent on Abu Dhabi’s ambitious plans for growth by 2020, with building, oil and gas, and transport the major contributors.
That was the forecast for spending in the emirate by the Middle East Economic Digest, presented on Monday to the opening day of the Abu Dhabi Conference.
Government bodies and private-sector companies discussed developments, ranging from health care to energy to infrastructure, as Abu Dhabi strives to achieve the goals of Vision 2030.
“The UAE economy is on solid ground,” said Mohammed Al Shehhi, under secretary at the Ministry of Economy, who delivered the keynote address. “It has been attracting visitors and investors looking for a safe haven in the Middle East.
“Growth was 4.4 per cent in 2012, its fastest pace since 2006. We expect GDP to expand by 4.5 per cent this year.”
Meed estimates that by 2020, the construction sector will be the most active in the emirate, with about $30bn (Dh110.19bn) in projects to be awarded within the next seven years.
Oil and gas will be a close second with $25bn.
Richard Thompson, editor of Meed, said the UAE had been the “major driver” behind the rise in the Middle East’s spending index.
“The return to growth is the latest chapter in what has been a roller-coaster ride for the index over the past seven years,” said Mr Thompson.
“The index remained relatively flat until about 12 months ago, when it began to move upwards as stalled projects were revived and new schemes launched, which has seen it grow more than 30 per cent to its current level of $3.19 trillion.
“The major driver of this growth has been the UAE, with Abu Dhabi contributing a significant chunk of investments.”
Meed predicts transport developments such as Etihad Rail and Abu Dhabi airport’s Midfield Terminal, along with chemical projects, are set to make up $20bn.
The industrial and power and water sectors will also be busy, with contracts valued at $6bn and $5bn to be awarded until 2020.
One of the topics highlighted was Abu Dhabi’s “Onwani” (My Address) project, the move to rename the city’s roads and provide unique addresses for buildings.
Dr Abdullah Al Bloushi, executive director of land and property management at the department of municipal affairs, said the system should be implemented by 2015 and would boost commerce, business and emergency response times.
“We will align our coordinates with international platforms such as Google to provide comprehensive access to the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” Mr Al Bloushi said.
“It will mark a turning point for our society. The response times for emergency services should be much faster and accurate. In certain circumstances this could mean saving someone’s life.
“It will speed up the delivery of goods and services. The new system will lead to more tourists and residents exploring more of the emirate and reduce wasteful journeys, thus reducing our carbon footprint.”
He said streets and buildings could be equipped with quick-response codes to digitally provide information on locations when scanned with a smartphone.
The conference continues on Tuesday with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group, Western Region Development Council and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority present as supporting partners.
Events at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa will be chaired on Tuesday by Mustafa Alrawi, business editor at The National.