UAE Cabinet revamp seeks to ‘turbo-charge’ economic growth
The revamping of the UAE Cabinet signifies a game-changing strategy to “turbo-charge the country’s holistic growth to a higher orbit”, economists and analysts have said. While ensuring more agility and swiftness in the governmental decision-making, the broad restructuring also seeks to redefine the second-largest Arab economy’s future course driven by its digital-first policy.
Unveiling his restructured Cabinet on Sunday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, declared: “Our national economy is an absolute strategic priority.”
Sheikh Mohammed paid tribute to Sultan Al Mansoori, the outgoing Minister of Economy. “He spent 16 years in the UAE Government. He handled all of his responsibilities professionally. Wish you all the best in the next phase of your life.”
The reshuffle resulted in the merger of several portfolios, including energy and infrastructure. It also saw the appointment of new economy and industry ministers along with two dedicated ministers of state for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and foreign trade. It underscores the strategic vision of the UAE leadership in taking the nation to a new era of growth and prosperity over the next half century, analysts said.
3 ministers for economy portfolio
In the new setup, the Ministry of Economy has three ministers: Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri will the Minister of Economy; Ahmed Belhoul will be the Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises; while Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi is the Minister of State for Foreign Trade.
Notable among the changes is the naming of Omar Al Olama as Minister of State for Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence. All these signify the growing focus of the government on the SME sector, trade and on the digital future of the nation.
David Gibson-Moore, President and CEO, Gulf Analytica, said as in many countries the SME sector forms the backbone of the UAE’s economy. “In Dubai alone, SMEs represent 99 per cent of the number of companies, accounting for 51 per cent of the workforce and around 46 per cent of the emirate’s GDP.
“Today’s announcement, in addition to several other initiatives and programmes, further emphasises the key role the UAE government is playing to support entrepreneurs and start-ups and promote economic growth,” said Gibson-Moore.
Visionary step in face of Covid-19
Abdul Moiz Khan, co-founder, CEO and managing partner of Fursa Consulting, said: “Making the core government functionary leaner to focus on key economic growth areas in the new global dynamics emerging out of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis is certainly a visionary step. This change signifies an enhanced government support to all important sectors of the economy.
“As key players in the economic landscape, especially in emerging economies, SMEs account for 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment according to the World Bank, though there is a huge heterogeneity of SMEs as a result of different market conditions.”
Across the UAE, the SME sector represents more than 98 per cent of the total number of companies operating and contributing towards 52 per cent of the non-oil GDP.
“Being vital fabrics of the economic ecosystem, SMEs and the foreign trade sector need greater focus to be more effective and productive drivers of economic growth,” said Khan.
The broad restructuring will ensure greater efficiency and empowerment for the SME sectors and facilitate alternative financing sources rather than traditional financing avenues through bank debts.
“It’s now up to SMEs to demonstrate much-needed improvisation and bolster their business models to seize new growth opportunities in the emerging new digital economic order,” Khan added.