Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, discusses the emirate’s plans for growth.
Global Finance: There are seven emirates in the UAE. How do you balance development at the national level?
Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa: It’s a matter of complementing each other. Some look at industry, others at pharmaceuticals, technology and other areas. There is a different value proposition in every emirate; but at the end of the day, we align 100% with the economic strategy of the federal government.
GF: What is Abu Dhabi’s strategy?
Al Shorafa: For us, the idea is to move away from hydrocarbons towards an innovation- and knowledge-based economy. Our strategy was to identify specific clusters that the government will develop and then let the private sector step into, like financial technology, agriculture, information and communication technology, health care, biopharma, aviation or specialized tourism. With that value proposition, we are putting programs in place to attract foreign companies and talents to set up in Abu Dhabi and scale to the whole MENA region.
GF: How important is foreign investment?
Al Shorafa: Very. We are trying to involve the private sector in many of the infrastructure projects here in Abu Dhabi. It’s domestic investment and foreign direct investment together through the public-private partnership programs. To attract companies, we have also developed our capital markets—the Abu Dhabi stock market has increased market valuation 40% by listing government-related entities but also private companies.