Abu Dhabi skyline
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Abu Dhabi: The manufacturing sector will play a key role in Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy as the emirate looks to expand its industry and capabilities for the future, said a leading official at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) conference on Monday.

Taking place at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the five-day event has brought ministers and delegates from around the world to discuss some of the latest developments and challenges in the industrial sector, with this year’s conference centred around the themes of sustainability, innovation and bringing more women into the industrial workforce.

“As part of Abu Dhabi’s roadmap for future progress, our Economic Vision 2030 aims for non-oil activities to contribute over 60 per cdent of the emirate’s overall GDP by 2030. Abu Dhabi’s industrial sector is recognised as one the emirate’s engines of future growth, and is a critical component of meeting our diversification goals,” said Rashid Abdul Kareem Al Baloushi, acting undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development.

“Recent statistics show that Abu Dhabi’s manufacturing was among the best performing sectors in 2018, growing at 6 per cent in real terms, while raising its contribution to the overall non-oil GDP to more than 12 per cent in 2018,” he added.

“The sector maintained its remarkable position as the second largest recipient of foreign direct investment inflows among nonoil activities in 2018, validating Abu Dhabi as a reliable industrial destination,” he said, highlighting the manufacturing industry’s growing importance to Abu Dhabi’s economy and investments.

Keeping pace

Esmail Abdulla, chief executive officer at Strata Manufacturing, which manufactures plane parts for both Airbus and Boeing, spoke about the importance of implementing the latest technologies to keep up with the competition and to be as effective as possible.

“From our perspective the competition today is fierce and so we have to differentiate ourselves with technology as well as investing in new technologies and developing our human capacity.

“We stand at a moment where the fourth industrial revolution is coming at a very fast pace and as a business leader it’s my job to ensure my colleagues are ready for this new technology, he added.

“For example, in our production line for the Airbus 350 inboard flap, we were using automated machines in the manufacturing process, whereas previously all production lines were done manually,” he said.

Commenting on some of the current market challenges, Abdulla highlighted the weakening demand for wider body aircraft. “In terms of the market challenges we see a softening demand on the wide body aircraft. All of our production lines, with the exception of around four, are on wide body aircraft.

“We believe things will pick up in the long term. Depending on which information you read, over the next 20 years there will be a demand for around 36,000 to 44,000 aircraft. So in the long run, the business outlook is very solid. Short-term, there are some challenges, but I’m sure the industry will navigate it,” he added.