x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Western Region needs entrepreneurs

A business workshop highlights the energy industry as having the most potential, followed by agriculture, tourism and light manufacturing.

Mohamed Ebrahim al Hosani,  of the Western Region Development Council, identified energy as the industry with the most potential.
Mohamed Ebrahim al Hosani, of the Western Region Development Council, identified energy as the industry with the most potential.

ABU DHABI // Government officials and business experts yesterday encouraged Emiratis in the Western Region to become entrepreneurs, describing small businesses as the "nerve of the global economy".

"People always associate small businesses with developing countries, but that is not the case," said Dr Abdel Rahim Mahmoud of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI).

"Twenty-five per cent of the US GDP comes from small businesses, and in Italy it is 60 per cent," Dr Mahmoud said during the Al Gharbia Business Workshop at the Tilal Liwa Hotel in Madinat Zayed.

"Small businesses are the biggest contributors in the world for opening up opportunities for employment. They make up 50 to 60 per cent of businesses in most countries."

The workshop, "Sharing Ideas on Entrepreneurship", provided an opportunity for students from the Madinat Zayed and Ruwais Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) to gain insight and perspective on the potential business ventures in the Western Region.

Dr Mahmoud emphasised the importance of small business ventures - describing them as the "nerve of the global economy".

Officials asserted that firm support exists from the community and the Government to those who want to pursue small to medium enterprises, and motivated young Emiratis to seek entrepreneurship opportunities in the Western Region.

"Anyone with the spiritual inclination can start a venture," Dr Mahmoud said. "And if you don't have one, we can help you find one."

The population of the Western Region is 125,000. It is expected to reach 440,000 by 2030, according to Mohammed Ebrahim al Hosani, of the Western Region Development Council (WRDC).

Mr al Hosani identified the key sectors that would require investments, which were in line with the WRDC 2030 vision.

Energy was highlighted as the industry with the highest potential, followed by food (agriculture and processing), tourism, light manufacturing and chemical production.

"The Western Region has the three largest petrochemical facilities in the world," Mr al Hosani said.

Dr Mahmoud said the ADCCI provides entrepreneurs with necessary resources. Among their support tools, he said, are the skill sets needed to build business plans and identify new, promising ideas.

Mr al Hosani added that the WRDC has "ready-to-go" business packages, which already contain the ideas, plans and necessary approvals for establishment.

All they need, he said, are the right people to execute the plans.

"We're looking for people with the expertise and diligence to successfully establish these businesses," he said.

Dr Phil Quirke, the director of the Madinat Zayed and Ruwais HCT, said business starters will get help.

"Entrepreneurs are even provided with a safe incubator house, where a situation is created for as long as it needs for the business to blossom before it is released into the real world," Dr Quirke said.

Ahmad Abdullah Hamadi, a recent HCT graduate, is among the aspiring entrepreneurs.

With his own photography business in the pipeline, Mr Hamadi said his career aspiration began as a hobby.

Now, Mr Hamadi describes photography as "a form of expression", saying that the Western Region inspired him to pursue his passion.

"When I started, I took pictures for myself. Then I began to share them with my parents," he said.

"After I realised it's something I wanted to do, I got the expertise and professional knowledge I needed to start my own business."