- The UAE investment outlook is very positive, with a 50-year history that has built investor confidence.
- The UAE is committed to supporting a diversified, forward-looking economy and strengthening its position as a global investment and innovation hub.
- There are opportunities for businesses and investors in sectors such as supply chain and logistics, as well as new technologies like digital and web3.
- The UAE is well-positioned to become a global capital for virtual assets and the metaverse, but there is a need to regulate investors and asset creators to protect the most vulnerable.
- The country combines essential elements for growth and prosperity, such as political stability, infrastructure, and easy access to talents, making it a value-added destination for businesses.
- The UAE and Saudi Arabia are not competing, and the UAE is fully behind the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, working closely with its neighbor.
- Future-proofing the UAE against inflation involves investing in the economy and other countries through SWF and maintaining an excellent monetary system.
- The UAE is a country of peace since the days of its founding fathers, and it will continue to lead in different arenas to bring peace to the region.
- The IPO pipeline in the UAE is exciting, and greater depth in sector, more capital, and more transparency in governance will all feed into the UAE's role as a hub in the capital market.
- The next generation of manufacturing and the export of services from the UAE will surprise those who don't know the place.
The UAE investment outlook is very positive, with a history of 50 years built on investor confidence. The young nation is emerging from the COVID pandemic more rapidly and more vibrantly than other economies. The government and other stakeholders are committed to supporting a diversified, forward-looking economy and to strengthening its positioning as a global investment and innovation hub.
During the Investopia 2022 Inaugural Summit, Becky Anderson, Managing Editor – CNN Abu Dhabi, moderated a session titled "The UAE Investment Outlook: 50 Years Ahead," which featured speakers Helal Almarri, Director General – Department of Economy & Tourism UAE, and Mohammed Al Shorafa, Chairman – ADDED. The session focused on the opportunities for businesses and investors, the most vibrant industry sectors and large-scale projects promising financial returns in the UAE, and how the UAE can serve as a platform for international investment.
The UAE: A Progressive and Forward-Looking Country
According to Mohammed Al Shorafa, the UAE is a progressive country. The leadership of Abu Dhabi is working on reducing the country’s carbon footprint and diversifying into other sectors such as agriculture, finance, health, bio, and tourism. Abu Dhabi is among the world’s most competitive cities, and it is also the safest city in the world.
Helal Almarri said the UAE's ambition is to have an open, transparent, and borderless approach to doing business. The UAE is well positioned in a few specific sectors such as supply chain and logistics, where the country is well-positioned to win. Almarri emphasized the role of government in making sure that protectionism and politics do not guide the country's decisions.
Cryptocurrencies and the Regulatory Framework in the UAE
Mohammed Al Shorafa said that the core belief of the UAE government is that it must be the enabler to create the right ecosystem in the UAE. The government understands that with cryptocurrencies, they have reached a point of no return, and they must create the right framework. The UAE is working with local governments to "put crypto on steroids," but they have to regulate investors and asset creators. The UAE's primary concern is to protect the most vulnerable. Anything related to payments is related to the central bank, and they need to make sure that this is strictly regulated. With virtual assets and the metaverse, the UAE aims to become a global capital. The country sees talent and movement coming here.
The UAE's Positioning as a Global Investment and Innovation Hub
The UAE's reputation as a global investment and innovation hub continues to grow. The country measures not only its economic performance to assess its success but also the happiness of its residents. The country ranks high globally in terms of quality of life, best place for expats, and largest growth in tech, among other factors.
The UAE combines many elements that are essential to growth and prosperity, including political stability, a progressive government with constantly evolving regulatory frameworks, easy-to-reach leadership, an excellent monetary system, infrastructure (physical and digital), the option of 100% ownership of a business, and easy access to talent, both from outside of the country and from local talents supported by the government in areas such as R&D and coding. The country's geographic location allows it to reach 70-80% of the population within up to 7 hours of flying.
The KSA and the UAE: Competing or Collaborating?
The KSA is a bigger economy with a similar story of evolution to the UAE, but Helal Almarri said that the industries in the GCC region are correlated. The UAE is fully behind the Saudi plan 2030 and is working closely with its neighbor.
On the topic of capital markets, Al Shorafa highlighted that in Abu Dhabi, capital markets are a key pillar of their strategy, with the current capitalization of the Abu Dhabi stock market at 1.6 trillion dirhams. Additionally, there are fifteen new companies in the pipeline, and an IPO fund has been created to support family businesses in listing on the Abu Dhabi stock market.
Anderson then asked the speakers about the sectors that they believe will take off and surprise those who do not know the UAE well. Almarri replied that the next generation of manufacturing, particularly in the context of ESG and solar energy, has the potential to surprise given the current geopolitics. Al Shorafa also added that the export of services from the UAE is another area to watch, as the country has some amazing companies and individuals.
Wrapping up the session, Anderson asked the speakers for their final thoughts on the UAE's investment outlook. Almarri emphasized that the UAE is not only focused on economic performance, but also measures the happiness of its residents. He highlighted the country's security and rule of law, highly functional infrastructure, non-discriminatory access to healthcare, progressive government with constantly evolving regulatory frameworks, easy access to leadership, excellent monetary system, and the option for 100% ownership of a business as essential elements to growth and prosperity in the UAE.
Al Shorafa reiterated that the UAE is a progressive country that is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and diversifying into other sectors such as agriculture, finance, health, bio, and tourism. He emphasized that Abu Dhabi is among the world's most competitive cities and the safest city in the world. He concluded that the UAE is in a unique position to lead in different arenas and bring about peace for the region, as the country has been trusted to lead in how to bring everybody together, a testament to the leadership's vision.
In summary, the session on "The UAE Investment Outlook: 50 Years Ahead" highlighted the country's positive investment outlook, with the UAE emerging from the COVID pandemic more rapidly and vibrantly than other economies. The government and other stakeholders are committed to supporting a diversified, forward-looking economy and to strengthening its positioning as a global investment and innovation hub. The speakers discussed the opportunities for businesses and investors, the most vibrant industry sectors, and large-scale projects promising financial returns in the UAE, as well as how the UAE can serve as a platform for international investment.