x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Khalifa Fund to focus on developing Western Region's entrepreneurs

The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development is focusing on about 12,000 nationals in the Western Region to help them qualify as entrepreneurial candidates.

The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development is focusing on about 12,000 nationals from 35 to 60 years of age in the Western Region to help them qualify as entrepreneurial candidates.

The plan is expected to "empower citizens and improve their lifestyle", said Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki, the fund's chief executive.

"The people we are targeting are within the 35 to 60-year-old age bracket who face difficulty moving to Abu Dhabi city or eastern region of Abu Dhabi for jobs. The younger generation seems to find better work opportunities and jobs in the capital."

Mr Al Darmaki's statements were made on the sidelines of the Al Gharbia Development Forum, which aimed to attract private sector investment in an array of industries to diversify the Western Region's economy.

Since it launched nearly six years ago, the Khalifa Fund has provided almost Dh650 million in support to about 365 projects. It has also expanded its presence in the UAE by opening additional branches in Abu Dhabi, as well as Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman.

Today the organisation supports about 100 new ventures each year that are owned by Emiratis, with up to Dh3m in loans or a maximum of Dh10m in project investments. The largest city in the Western Region, Al Gharbia, will also benefit from Dh1.5 billion in infrastructure projects earmarked for the area, announced by the Executive Council on May 8.

Policymakers are banking on small to medium-sized businesses to play an important role in the development of the Western Region, thus the push to help develop local entrepreneurs.

"Gharbia's economic growth is factored into our GDP forecasts," said Mohammed Omar Abdullah, the undersecretary of Abu Dhabi's Department of Economic Development on the sidelines of the forum. "It's a very important target for us as we look forward to developing the non-oil sector. Gharbia will help us achieve it, especially SMEs, to develop oil, petrochemicals and transport."

Al Gharbia, which is home to the Shams 1 solar power plant, makes up 60 per cent of the emirate of Abu Dhabi's land mass but has just 11 per cent of its population, at about 225,700 people - or 6.4 per square kilometre.

 

halsayegh@thenational.ae