x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dh8bn Industrial zone part of master plan

An Dh8 billion industrial zone in the Abu Dhabi desert for construction and building materials firms is one of a host of Government projects.

An Dh8 billion (US$2.17bn) industrial zone in the Abu Dhabi desert for construction and building materials firms is one of a host of projects the Government is planning to industrialise the emirate. The 34-square-kilometre Al Fayah Industrial Zone, being constructed by the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (ZonesCorp), reflects the Government's latest efforts to create industrial clusters to boost economic growth and diversify away from oil revenues. The location, 75km east of the capital, is also a sign of efforts to relocate industries away from residential areas and relieve congestion.

The Abu Dhabi Ports Company has begun grading works on what will eventually become a 137 sq km industrial zone near the new Khalifa Port in Taweelah. And Mubadala Development, an investment arm of the Government, is expected to release details soon of an aerospace cluster next to Al Ain Airport which will be home to several top-tier manufacturing and maintenance outfits supported by a community of smaller supplier firms.

The Al Fayah development, which will also contain residential facilities for thousands of workers, will be built in three phases and financed entirely by the Government, said Talal Aziz, a development manager at ZonesCorp. Al Fayah will be connected by the Union Railway, a freight line linking key areas of the emirate including the airport, the Al Ain industrial area, Musaffah and the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone.

Earlier this month, ZonesCorp appointed GHD of Australia as the master planner for Al Fayah, which is expected to submit its proposal in September. It is believed construction could begin in a year if ZonesCorp decides to proceed with the project. "We are in the early planning stages," Mr Aziz said. The company said it was creating clusters centred on core industries and second-tier sectors. The core industries will include oil and gas, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, healthcare equipment and telecommunications. The second-tier sectors will include food and beverages, construction, building materials, engineering and electrical equipment.

Construction companies in Musaffah would be encouraged to move to Al Fayah, possibly relieving traffic and congestion within the Abu Dhabi metropolitan area, Mr Aziz told delegates at the Abu Dhabi Mega Projects conference on Tuesday. "It's not just the construction workers, but also the equipment and vehicles. It's the sheer scale of it." To encourage companies to relocate, ZonesCorp will offer a number of incentives, including subsidised rents. "We cannot force anyone to relocate," Mr Aziz said.

ZonesCorp is the largest free zone developer in the emirate. In addition to Al Fayah, it is the planner behind a proposed 50 sq km industrial zone in Al Gharbia hosting downstream oil and gas industries. ZonesCorp's existing work includes the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD), adjacent to the Musaffah industrial area, which is home to Emirates Steel Industries and Abu Dhabi Polymers Park. The first two phases of ICAD are operational. ICAD 1 focuses on medium to heavy manufacturing firms, while ICAD 2, which opened in 2007, caters for oil and gas, chemicals, engineering and processing firms.

ICAD 3, 12 sq km in size, is scheduled to be completed in October at a cost Dh1.2bn. The ICAD zones have been built in a public-private partnership model that includes the cost of roads and sewerage and irrigation systems. Separately, water and electricity is handled by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority. ICAD 4, which will be 24 sq km and cost Dh4bn to build - not including electricity and potable water systems - is in the master planning stage. ICAD 5 will be smaller, at 11 sq km and costing Dh1.5bn. Halcrow has been appointed as the master planner.

igale@thenational.ae