At the time of writing this update the international response to tackling the ongoing Covid pandemic remains positive. The UAE has had an efficient and professionally delivered vaccination programme to protect residents and visitors alike and has the second-best response globally to completing vaccinations. On a positive note as a cautious easing of lockdown continues globally the UAE has effectively introduced in-person trade shows, which are carefully monitored with strict rules to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
The region was saddened by the announcement in March of the passing of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai, at the age of 75. Sheikh Hamdan served as the finance minister of the United Arab Emirates and deputy ruler of Dubai under his brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of the city-state who also serves as prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates. When the UAE formed its first Cabinet in 1971, Sheikh Hamdan became finance minister and held the post until his death. Throughout his long tenure he attracted foreign investment, managed the country’s vast oil wealth and, along with his brother, oversaw the transformation of Dubai into a key regional financial hub.
When focusing on a return to business activity this year began with heightened optimism as USD 35.6 billion worth of new projects were unveiled across the GCC in the first quarter (Q1), the equivalent of 55% of the total project announcements in 2020. Saudi Arabia led the way with announcements totalling USD 19 billion in new projects, while Qatar followed with a 21% portfolio. The utilities sector topped amongst sectors, with USD 14.5 billion of new projects, while the oil gas sector added USD 10 billion in new projects. Major projects announced during Q1 were Idd Al Shargi South Dome (ISSD) Oil Field Development in Qatar and two 3.5 Giga Watt Gas-Fired Independent Power Plants in Taibah and Al Qassim in Saudi Arabia. Project awards in Q1 were primarily led by the USD 18.5 billion Four Liquefaction Trains and USD 2.5 billion LNG Storage and Loading Facilities for Qatar NFE. Excluding the Liquefaction Trains project, GCC awards in Q1 stand at USD 13.8 billion, around 40% lower as compared to Q4 2020 or around 50% lower than Q1, 2020. Saudi Arabia led awards with USD 5.4 billion, followed by the UAE with USD 3.8 billion. In terms of sectors, the utilities and the urban construction sectors topped awards with 42% and 36% shares respectively.
Exciting news from Dubai including the Industrial Strategy ‘Operation 300bn’, which is a 10-year comprehensive strategy that aims to empower and expand the industrial sector to become the driving force of a sustainable national economy, increasing its contribution to the GDP from the current AED133 billion to AED300 billion by 2031. Leading the strategy, the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology will roll out programmes and initiatives to support 13,500 industrial small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Focusing primarily on future industries that implement advanced technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions and applications, the strategy will work towards advancing the national economy and contributing to sustainable development.
It aims to increase the in-country value through improving and promoting local products on a global level and building an attractive business environment for local and international investors to boost productivity. The plan provides a competitive package of facilities and incentives with the aim of positioning the UAE as a global industrial hub that attracts talents, developers and experts from all over the world.
Seeking to maximise the industrial sector’s revenue, Operation 300bn is a nationwide action plan to strengthen enabling mechanisms and tools, and build the most resilient logistical and legislative framework of its kind. The plan provides an unprecedented package of facilities, incentives and customs exemptions with the aim of attracting foreign investments to the industrial sector, creating a world-class industrial ecosystem.
Under the Unified Industrial Brand Identity, the strategy aims to transform the country’s industrial products into a reflection of the UAE’s identity, built on the pursuit of excellence through unified national standards, and highlight the unique features and superior quality of products made in UAE. It also aims to enhance the competitiveness of national products, increase their recognition, encourage demand and promote them internationally.
The industrial strategy Operation 300bn pursues four main objectives:
1. The first is to create an attractive business environment for local and international investors in the industrial sector through updating the Industrial Law to support local entrepreneurs and attract foreign direct investment. The law will include flexible conditions to provide opportunities to small and medium-sized companies and industrial enterprises while allowing foreigners to own 100% of their industrial establishments. To achieve the first objective, the strategy will also offer financing facilities to priority industrial sectors and develop industrial-quality infrastructure to support existing and new local industries. This will form part of a vision that forecasts enablers and mechanisms to address future challenges with the aim of driving sustainable industrial development and enhancing competitiveness.
2. The second objective is to catalyse industrial development and stimulate the national economy through launching a programme to enhance in-country value and increase the demand for UAE products with the aim of boosting their contribution to the GDP, increasing their exports and finding new markets for them.
3. The third objective is to encourage innovation, and the adoption of advanced technology and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions through setting the advanced technology agenda to accelerate the development of innovative products, taking into consideration all factors that ensure commercial viability. The strategy also looks to design programmes to adopt 4IR solutions to boost the productivity of priority industries as part of the third objective.
4. The fourth objective is to create strong foundations to enhance the UAE’s position as a leading global hub for future industries through designing initiatives that establish the country’s status as a leading business and technology hub.
On 1 June 2021 the IFE brand refresh was launched. A presentation was delivered at the International General Assembly meeting on 18 May highlighting a toolkit, logos and related documents for use as part of the rebrand. The toolkit included:
- PR toolkit
- IFE brand guidelines
- Press release template
- PowerPoint presentation template
- Branch event flyer templates
- Content submission form
- New branch logo
As noted above the new branding was officially launched on 1 June with all of the IFE communication touchpoints and documents now changed over – these can be viewed on the IFE website and on IFE social media channels.
Logos are a huge part of any brand. It’s the visual handshake offered to our membership. There are many different versions of our logo to cover all aspects of our business. Key messages within the rebrand and wider strategy promote the corporate vision to promote:
Establish equilibrium in representation, communications, delivery, services and expertise.
Provide leadership in debate, advocacy, professionalism and across all communications (membership, sector, international).
Demonstrate the advantages of the IFE membership in all aspects of professionalism of the sector. Leverage the currency of knowledge and the role the IFE plays in future-proofing the sector.
IFE exams 2021
It has been frustrating that the IFE examination programme has been disrupted over the last 18 months. The support by members is greatly appreciated and for the ongoing understanding throughout the Covid-19 situation. We are planning that by October the examinations will be able to run as normal; however, we are mindful that in some locations this may not be the case due to local rules and requirements. We are in the process of setting up systems and materials for the October 2021 examinations and are preparing for an examination centre in Dubai as previously provided.
In October 2021, the examinations will run on Monday, 4 October and Tuesday, 5 October. The timetable has been altered slightly to allow the maximum number of candidates to sit, taking into account those who were unable to do so in March.
As previously highlighted, we are continuing to work at expanding our reach with sponsors and partners alike. We have recently held meetings with the British Embassy, the Fire Industry Association (FIA), Dubai Police and the International Code Council (ICC). With the support of sponsors and similar associations, we are looking to develop programmes that add benefit to our local membership and beyond the region. The diversity of companies, organisations and international associations we have been in communication with has provided us with some great opportunities to establish future relationships that will support a key objective to bring international best practices to the region.
With a positive Covid vaccination programme the UAE is working hard to bring a degree of normality back to the region with a particular focus on Expo 2020 and the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations on the horizon. We must remain positive and take forward a degree of optimism, which will allow the branch to promote international best practices on a wider global platform. As always in the interim it is important to stay safe and keep alert to avoid any future setbacks.
For more information, go to www.ife.org.uk/GCC-UAE