Milestones and transformation highlighted in decade of reporting – Regional Director

4124Abu Dhabi 19 Oct, 2014 The global publishing, research and consultancy Oxford Business Group (OBG) is approaching a decade of tracking Abu Dhabi’s dramatic and fast-paced economic development.

Regional Director for Abu Dhabi, Michelle Solomon, said the milestone provided an ideal opportunity for OBG to recall the achievements the emirate has made in that time, and the group’s coverage of the UAE’s growth story, which had been strengthened by hundreds of meetings with leading representatives from across the political, business and economic spheres.

“Our annual reports have charted Abu Dhabi’s progress toward reaching its long-term goals and its transformation into one of the world’s most dynamic markets,” she said. “Tracking all this has involved a huge amount of research and thousands of discussions with key players on the ground, many of whom continue to play a major role in developing Abu Dhabi’s economic landscape.”

Over the years, OBG’s interviews with top representatives from both the public and private sectors have become a hallmark of its publications and a feature that the Group’s global readership has come to expect.

The Group’s first report on the emirate, published in 2005, featured a landmark interview with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in which His Highness outlined the emirate’s priorities, which focused on developing a world class health and education sector, as well as encouraging greater private sector participation and attracting foreign investment, as it moved to liberalise its economy and diversify away from hydrocarbons.  Since then, OBG has also included interviews with other prominent members of the royal family within their annual reports including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Minister of Foreign Affairs HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan; National Security Advisor and Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan; the Ruler’s Representative of the Western Region HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and HH Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, amongst others.

OBG’s reports have provided insightful analysis of Abu Dhabi’s major milestones throughout the years. Since its launch in 2008, the emirate’s long-term development strategy, Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, has been a major focus of the group’s research, with extensive coverage given to the roadmap’s implementation.

The publications have provided in-depth analysis detailing changes to  property ownership laws, which allowed, for the first time, non-Emiratis to buy property in Abu Dhabi. This important piece of legislation paved the way for a major wave of development and for the real estate and construction sector to become a pillar of the emirate’s economic diversification strategy.

They have also charted the progress and eventual launch of major infrastructure projects, including the Khalifa Port and Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), which now serves as an integral support mechanism not only to facilitate trade, but to also provide a foundation for stimulating further industrial activity.

OBG has also reported on the significance of attracting renowned higher education institutions, such as Paris Sorbonne and NYU to the emirate. In doing so, the government demonstrated its commitment to developing international partnerships as a means of achieving a knowledge-based economy.

Additionally, the Group has also examined the significance of the announcement by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that it will upgrade the UAE’s capital markets to its influential Emerging Markets index, and what this means for the Abu Dhabi Exchange (ADX). The upgrade represents an important vote of confidence in the UAE’s markets, and has the potential to increase institutional investor interest.

Being based on the ground in Abu Dhabi for the past ten years has afforded OBG the opportunity to gain a unique insight into a wealth of significant developments and how they are contributing to the goals and objectives of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, be it the launch of Formula 1, the expansion of Etihad Airways, the developments on Saadiyat and Yas Islands, the construction of Abu Dhabi’s artificial islands by ADMA-OPCO and ZADCO, the creation of TwoFour54, a media-free zone, or the launch of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

Solomon commented, “The important thing to consider is that while all these developments individually have a certain value, when considered in total, the value to the overall economy is immeasurable. Essentially, the sum is greater than its parts.”

While OBG has been preparing research on the emirate for the past ten years, the Group’s operations, in fact, date back a further decade. Its expansion over the past 20 years has seen the Group grow to cover 37 markets across the Middle East, the Gulf, Southeast Asia, North Africa and South America. This breadth of coverage enables OBG to view Abu Dhabi’s achievements from a global perspective.

Solomon said the list of projects which had been rolled out during OBG’s decade in Abu Dhabi was vast, matched only by the pace of development in the emirate.

“Our reports have made fascinating reading, partly because of the insightful contributions of our interviewees and our data analysis, but also due to the very nature of what’s taking place here in Abu Dhabi,” she said. “As the emirate enters the next stage of Vision 2030, we look forward to continuing with our research and charting the progress of key projects, which include exciting initiatives such as the launch of the Cleveland Clinic, the further development of Abu Dhabi Global Market, a financial free-zone on Al Maryah Island, the opening of the Midfield Terminal Building, development of sour gas projects, the opening of the Louvre, Guggenheim and Zayed Museums, and the further development of its aerospace industry, including the expansion of Strata Manufacturing.”

Solomon said that by providing a platform on which to communicate these significant events to the local and international business community, OBG had itself, become part of the fabric of Abu Dhabi’s economic development. “It is, indeed, immensely satisfying to know that our reports now serve as a valuable tool for encouraging foreign direct investment, promoting trade and generally raising global awareness about the emirate’s impressive social and economic progress,” she concluded.

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