Stock Abu Dhabi skyline
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed announced key leadership appointments on Wednesday. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Abu Dhabi and the UAE have embarked on a next phase of economic growth as a new generation takes on top positions at the federal and emirate levels.

These leaders will bring ‘technocrat’ skills to their current positions given the vast experience they possess both at the government level and in the corporate space. This is what’s needed as the UAE makes that gradual transition towards being a multi-layered economy and not one just reliant on energy.

Under the changes, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, becomes the country’s second Vice-President alongside His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed becomes the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who will also oversee a restructured Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan have been named Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi.

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Abu Dhabi’s greater transition

The changes are manifest during a period when ‘Abu Dhabi’s balance-sheet will remain very strong and its net creditor position very large for the foreseeable future’, according to the credit rating agency Moody’s, which recently assigned the emirate with long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings of Aa2.

Majid Jafar

The new appointments of the UAE Vice President and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will continue to sustain economic advancement in the UAE, especially considering the milestones already achieved by the petroleum and energy sector. Under the leaders’ vision, the UAE will continue to adopt the latest technologies and best practices to champion carbon initiatives that serve as an example to the rest of the world

- Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum

These in turn ‘provide significant policy buffers and shock absorption capacity’ for Abu Dhabi, more so as it pursues an economic diversification and expansion strategy. And with a Net Zero target for the UAE by 2050.

While oil prices will go through ‘habitual’ cycles, “Abu Dhabi’s hydrocarbon endowment and low cost of production, combined with its balance sheet size and effective institutions, help mitigate these credit challenges,” Moody’s added.

Primed for more growth

In a statement, M.A Yusuff Ali, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group, said: “I wish to put on record my heartiest and sincere congratulations to HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE on the new leadership appointments in the UAE and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which will steer this great country to a more stronger and prosperous future.

I pray to Almighty God to bestow blessings upon the visionary leadership to take UAE towards greater heights and prosperity in all spheres.

- M.A Yusuff Ali of Lulu Group

Business, corporate backgrounds

UAE business sources also pointed to the backgrounds that some of the new appointments have had, which includes Sheikh Mansour’s role at English Premier League’s supernova club Manchester City. And of course, he is the Chairman of Emirates Investment Authority and Vice-Chairman of Mubadala.

“We applaud the appointment of new leaders and their assignments, which will enhance the UAE’s global ranking in various sectors and instill confidence and trust,” said Omar Al Mulla, CEO of Osool Investments. “The introduction of new laws and regulations, advances in the capital markets, and the expansion of listed assets have put the UAE’s capital markets on the world’s radar.

We are confident that we will see more results and an influx of foreign direct investment under the guidance.

- Omar Al Mulla of Osool Investments

Oil’s steady hand at the till

Through the near- to medium-term, oil prices should remain ‘supportive’ of Abu Dhabi and UAE’s ambitions. Not just that, the ‘continued improvement in Abu Dhabi’s net creditor position is resilient to somewhat lower oil prices, even with ongoing oil production cuts dampening real GDP growth’, says Moody’s.

“The impact of economic diversification projects is likely to be felt only in the medium to longer term given the preeminent role of hydrocarbons in the economy.”

The new structure will accelerate economic growth in the UAE, strengthening its economic position globally, contributing to revitalizing various economic sectors and fields, supporting entrepreneurs and investors to launch new projects, and promoting upcoming projects

- Major Tom Louis, CEO of Response Plus Holding

But what oil price (currently at $78 a barrel) and demand patterns show is that the local economy has the flexibility to set targets on economic transformation – and then go ahead and meet those medium- to longer term goals.

‘Great confidence’

Abdulaziz Ahmed Al Shamsi

The new positions are an expression of the great confidence that our leadership places in their Highnesses to ensure the continuation of progress and prosperity. Our leaders are the stronghold and the security shield of the UAE among nations.

- Abdulaziz Ahmed Al Shamsi, Director-General of Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department

Walid Al Hashimi

As they begin their new assignments, we are confident that they will lead the country to achieve further milestones, gaining the trust of national and foreign investors as they embrace the UAE as their home from home.

 - Walid Al Hashimi, CEO of Sharjah Holding

Oil keeps providing the cushion

The changes to Abu Dhabi’s economic and business landscape will keep showing up. But through all such transitions or more major transformations, there will be one true constant – oil.

Shwan Ibrahim Taha

We are confident that the new appointments will be in the best interests of the UAE and the entire Arab world. The UAE leads by example regarding issues such as prosperity, security, and tolerance as it resiliently adapts to rapidly changing global economies. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed remarkable growth in capital markets in the UAE, which indicates the leadership’s intention and commitment to expand UAE markets.

- Shwan Ibrahim Taha, CEO, Rabee Securities

“Abu Dhabi’s very low cost of production and very substantial hydrocarbon endowment means that the emirate is likely to be among the last producers standing even in an accelerated carbon transition scenario,” says Moody’s. “And gives the emirate a longer window than many other hydrocarbon producers to implement its diversification plans.”