x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Western Region to get raft of new projects

The Western Region is set to benefit from a series of new projects as part of Dh330 billion package of investment into the wider emirate over the next five years.

Mohamed Hamad bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, the acting undersecretary of the Ruler's Representative Court in the Western Region. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mohamed Hamad bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, the acting undersecretary of the Ruler's Representative Court in the Western Region. Antonie Robertson / The National

The Western Region is set to benefit from a series of new projects as part of Dh330 billion package of investment into the wider emirate over the next five years.

The figure, which is expected to increase with further private sector investment, is understood to include several mega projects under construction, such as the nuclear project, power plants in Ruwais and Ghuwaifat, ports and local housing, said Mohamed Hamad bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, the acting undersecretary of the Ruler's Representative Court in the Western Region.

The region, also known as Al Gharbia, lacks many basic facilities for residents who make up 11 per cent of the emirate's population. A lack of schools, hospitals, supermarkets, grocery stores and parks means there are limited job prospects.

"There is a desire to spread the level of development," said Giyas Gokkent, the chief economist at National Bank of Abu Dhabi. "They don't want the concentration of activity to just centre in Abu Dhabi, but for areas like Al Gharbia and Al Ain. We can already see obviously the fruits of that strategy in Al Ain," he said, referring to Mubadala's aircraft manufacturing plant, which has boosted economic activity and female employment.

Strata is an airframe manufacturing facility that has contracts to build parts for Boeing, Airbus and Finmeccanica-Alenia Aeronautica, the maker of the commuter turboprop ATR.

Officials at Al Gharbia had identified four major sectors as priorities for investment: power, transport, tourism and food production. Other sectors that are being targeted include education, health care and heavy industry.

The Western Region Development Council (WRDC) is also hoping to partner with private-sector developers to build hundreds of homes in more than eight community facilities in the region by offering to lease space in office buildings developed as part of complexes that will include shops, health clubs and apartments.

Mohammed Ebrahim Al Hosani, the regional development director at WRDC, said the first project, which is scheduled to be completed in Madinat Zayed later this year, will comprise a total of 22,000 square metres.

The project, which is being developed by Abu Dhabi-based NTCC, will include 120 apartments, 2,000 sq metres of offices, shops, a health club, a cafe and a gym.

Two more community projects are at the design approval stage and at least five more have been proposed.

"We have signed off an agreement for another project of 28,000 sq metres, which we hope we will sign up a developer for by the end of the year," Mr Al Hosani said yesterday.

The Western Region occupies 60 per cent of the land mass of Abu Dhabi and contains 7.1 per cent of the world's oil reserves.

"The investments that will be poured into developing Al Gharbia will create a ripple effect throughout the Western Region's economy and will naturally have a positive impact on the employment sector," said Mr Al Mazrouei, who is also the director general of WRDC.

"It will create massive opportunities for UAE nationals in support of the government's Emiratisation efforts and for expatriates also. This will also open the door wide open, which we hope will encourage more women to enter the workforce, giving them a wider choice for employment opportunities that will be made available across a variety of sectors."

Last month Salem Abdulla bin Shabib, the section manager for sector development, told delegates at Cityscape Abu Dhabi that the region is also hoping to open up a network of air-traffic routes in an attempt to attract investors to the remote Al Gharbia area.

Currently Rotana Jet runs a small aircraft service from Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi to Dalma Island in the Western Region. Mr bin Shabib said that the council was in discussions, which were "at the conceptual phase", with the Department of Transport to open up more small runways across the region.

 

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