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Accession Day/2002 Feature: Department of Planning

posted on 04/08/2002: 1589 views

The emirate of Abu Dhabi has achieved formidable strides in various fields over the last three decades, thanks to President H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose leadership has long maintained a sustained drive on human resources development, which he envisioned as the cornerstone of a comprehensive and sustainable development.

In a report released by the Planning Department on the occasion of the 36th Anniversary of the Accession Day, the department said Sheikh Zayed's forthright vision of investing in human resources as prelude to comprehensive development yielded positive results from the outset as various sectors showed a steady boom.

The report which covers the period from 1996 to 2001, said that many projects had been achieved in the sectors of production and services, most of which were implemented with the support and direct follow up of H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. Owing to these remarkable projects, the economy of the emirate, like that of the UAE, witnessed a significant boom, thus becoming an example worth emulating in the developing world.

The economy, noted the report, is characterised by liberalism and openness to the outside world, hence the numerous bilateral agreements signed between the emirate and many countries. The emirate also engaged the regional and international economic groupings either through direct contacts or through the federal ministries. This intensive engagement, coupled with other domestic policies, resulted in the diversification of the economic base and thereby widened the contribution of the various sectors in the national economy.

The report cited five salient aspects of the economy which, it said, clearly indicated the enormous progress that had been made during the last few years. First, a slight decline which resulted from the worldwide drop in crude oil prices in the years 1998 and 2001. The GDP recorded a 7.1 per cent growth during the 1996, with the non-oil and gas GDP achieving 8.4 per cent during the same period.

This good performance by non-oil GDP was a result of the economic diversification policies applied by the emirate. Second, the period from 1996 witnessed a 3.9 per cent growth in the population and workforce of the emirate and this shows a balance between population growth rate and recruitment policies in the emirate. Third, many infrastructure project were completed during this period , which also witnessed a significant growth in fixed assets at the rate of 1.8 per cent. Fourth, a higher local government spending rate was registered, standing at 8.4 per cent, with much of it going to the services sector. Fifth, the economy opened up more to the outside world, with commodity exports reaching a growth rate of 6.9 percent, while imports grew by 5.0 per cent.

A 7.6 per cent surplus in trade balance was achieved during this period. GDP, including oil and gas stood at Dhs.147 billion in 2001, recording a drop of Dh13 billion against the year 2000. That decline was a result of the drop in oil revenues in 2000. Non-oil and gas GDP rose from Dh56.4 billion in 1996 to Dh94.4 billion in 2001. On the other hand, various economic sectors, excluding oil and gas, virtually performed very well during the 1996 to 2001. The manufacturing sector however recorded a relatively slow growth of 12.9 per cent due to its heavy reliance on the petrochemical industries, which were affected by the volatility of oil prices. But the added value of this sector however, reached Dhs.18.2 billion in 2001 from Dh9.8 billion in 1996.

Overall, the manufacturing sector recorded significant successes in recent years, most notably, the setting up of Ruwais Petrochemical company, the first of its kind in the UAE. The company will be able to produce 3,000 to 5,000 tons of ethylene and 15,000 tons of polyethylene during its first production phase. It will be able to increase its production in the future, exporting 60 per cent of it to the Asian markets, 30 per cent to the Middle East and the remainder to Europe. Another mega project is the Dolphin Energy project, which emerged in a landmark deal signed between the UAE and Qatar for transporting gas from Qatar to Abu Dhabi. The project which is set to be completed by 2005 is expected to meet the increasing needs for gas in the UAE for years to come.

With regard to oil, it continued to be the major source of revenue in the emirate, accounting for 92.9 per cent of the total revenues of the emirate. Production capacity improved significantly over the last five years. The government of Abu Dhabi also attracted investments to this sector so as to maintain the production capacity and ultimately achieve better oil prices that would in turn contribute to the economic prosperity of producers and consumers alike.

The year 2000 saw increase in oil investments which reached Dh5325.0 million as a result of expansion in oil investments. The investments increased further in the year 2001 to Dhs.5730.0 million. Other non-oil sectors which showed good performance included the agriculture and animal resources sector which topped the production sector at a growth rate of 20 per cent. Land reclamation projects undertaken by the emirate resulted in the expansion of agricultural lands and increased the number of farms to 20455 during the year 2000.

These efforts also contributed to the improvement and expansion of production in terms of quality and quantity. By the end of the year 2000, the output reached 4310 tons. Animal production also increased with the introduction of innovative technology in dairy farms, resulting in an increase of red meat products to 10.7 thousand tons, white meat to 12.6 thousand tons, and milk to 75.2 thousand tons. The real estate sector registered a slight decline as compared to its performance in the year 1999/2000 due to a fall in rentals. Hospitality sector recorded a growth rate of 11.1 per cent.

The report also cited he significant social developments in the emirate. These included empowerment and development of women and youth sectors in addition to other categories with special needs. The government evolved a social security system that provided welfare to these categories. Major social projects of significance cited by the report included the Marriage Fund, which was set up in 1992 , in line with the directives of H.H President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Fund played a major role in providing opportunities for the youth to attain social stability. The number of beneficiaries across the emirates from the Marriage Fund grants increased from 2036 in 1993 to 4027 in 2001. Since its inception, some 29170 young nationals received the grants. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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