New measures include highly flexible ‘green visas’ and billions in investment to support the industrial sector
The initiatives will be the cornerstone of growth as the country marks 50 years since unification.
At an event at Jumeirah Emirates Towers attended by Cabinet ministers and senior officials, the government set out a series of principles on which the projects are founded.
1) The major priority shall remain the strengthening of the union, its institutions, legislations, capacities and budgets. The urban, developmental and economic development of all parts of the country is the fastest and most effective way to consolidate the union of the UAE.
2) To completely focus, over the coming period, on building the best and most dynamic economy in the world. The economic development of the country is the supreme national interest, and all state institutions, of all sectors and across different federal and local levels, shall bear collectively the responsibility of building the best global economic environment and maintaining the gains achieved over the past 50 years.
3) The UAE’s foreign policy is a tool that aims to serve the higher national goals, the most important of which is the UAE’s economic interests. The goal of our political approach is to serve the economy. And the goal of the economy is to provide the best quality of life for the people of the UAE.
4) The main future driver for growth is human capital. Developing the educational system, attracting talents, retaining specialists and continuously building skills are what shall keep the UAE at the top.
5) Good-neighbourliness is the basis of stability. The geographical, social and cultural vicinity of the country is the first line of defence for its security, safety and its future development. Developing stable and positive political, economic and social relations with this vicinity is one of the most important priorities of the country’s foreign policy.
6) Cementing the reputation of the UAE globally as one nation is a national mission for all institutions. The UAE is one economic destination, one tourist destination, one industrial destination, one investment destination, and one cultural destination. Our national institutions must combine their efforts, and together benefit from the capabilities, and work to build global enterprises and partnerships across the world.
7) The digital, technical and scientific excellence of the UAE will define its new development and economic frontiers, and the solidification of its position as a capital for talent, companies and investments in these sectors will make it the capital of the future.
8) The value system in the UAE shall remain based on openness and tolerance, the preservation of rights, the consolidation of the rule of law, the preservation of human dignity, the respect of cultures, the strengthening of human fraternity, and the respect of national identity. The country will remain supportive, through its foreign policy, of all initiatives, pledges and international organisations that promote peace, openness and human fraternity.
9) The UAE’s foreign humanitarian aid is an essential part of its own vision and moral duty towards less fortunate nations. Our foreign humanitarian aid is not tied to religion, race, colour or culture. Political disagreement with any country should not stop us from providing swift relief for those in need.
10) Calling for peace, harmony, negotiations and dialogue to resolve all political disputes is the basis of the UAE’s foreign policy, and striving with regional partners and global friends to establish regional and global peace and stability is a fundamental driver of our foreign policy.
Cabinet ministers including Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, spoke about the first of the projects.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, were also present.
Billions in investment to boost economy and support business
Dr Al Jaber told an audience the initiative marked a “new era of prosperity and development”.
He said $1.36 billion (Dh5bn) from the Emirates Development Bank will be allocated to support projects by Emiratis in new and crucial sectors.
Another Dh5bn will be allocated from the bank to transform the industrial sector towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution over a period of five years. The aim is to add Dh25bn to the country’s GDP, and increase the level of industrial output by 30 per cent.
Earlier, the audience heard the government will seek $150bn inward investment over the next nine years.
Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, spoke of preparing the Emirates for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – with all of the challenges and opportunities that will bring.
She said investment in “smart industry powered by fast technology” would give the country a major advantage, and ensure Emiratis and residents would prosper.
‘Green visa’ and freelancer visa
A new visa aimed at business owners, investors and entrepreneurs in the UAE will offer expanded benefits for sponsoring family members, Dr Al Zeyoudi announced.
The owners of SMEs and high-performing students will also be eligible. The full criteria have not yet been revealed.
The visa would allow parents to sponsor their male children until the age of 25, up from 18 at present.
In the event of the visa being cancelled, holders would have a grace period of 90 to 180 days – significantly longer than the current 30-day period. This would allow people more time to sort out their residency status and find a new job or sponsor.
The first federal freelance visa will also be established, allowing for flexible working around the country.
Teenagers allowed to do part-time jobs
A further change will allow children over the age of 15 to work for the first time.
A temporary work permit would allow them to secure a part-time job and gain a taste for the workplace, without giving their studies.
The decision could be hugely significant and bring about a culture of part-time and temporary work.
“Anyone who’s living here, who’s above 15 years old, can apply for a temporary job,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.
“We don’t want them to stop their education but it’s a temporary visa to give them access to their market, shape up their skills and see the sectors they want to study and want to have a future in.
“It’s a relaxation from us to ensure students have access to the market.”
Upskilling, AI and jobs
Mr Al Olama said the recent announcement of a goal to attract or train 100,000 people in computer coding was only the start of a broader digital skills push.
“The first step is announcing 100,000 global visas to programmers and coders to the UAE,” he said.
“We’ll also ensure Emiratis can be part of this project. Upskilling is a key part of it.”
He said the country aspired to “have the highest number of female coders per capita in the world”.
“We don’t want to be a local player in the digital economic landscape – we want to be the world in one country, shaping the future,” he said.
More projects across various sectors and fields will be announced in the next few weeks.
Last week, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, described the projects as furthering the UAE’s development as a nation.
“The UAE does not have the luxury of time and will not wait for global conditions to make its future,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote online.
The announcements come three months before the UAE celebrates its 50th National Day on December 2 and in a year that has made the nation the first Arab country to send a probe into orbit around Mars.
It also comes before Expo 2020 Dubai, the six-month world fair, which begins on October 1.