Abu Dhabi: Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade and Industry, said the UAE has successfully managed to transition towards a diversified economy that is less reliant on oil.

He was speaking during the SME Toolkit Conference, a four-day conference focused on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), held in the capital.

“The UAE economy has witnessed accelerated developments and has become classified as one of the major growing economies, which enables the UAE to enhance its economic partnerships around the world,” he added.

He noted that in 2014 oil represented 30 per cent of the country’s GDP, compared to 90 per cent in 1973.

In particular, the UAE has paid special attention in helping develop SMEs within the country.

“SMEs represent around 90 per cent of companies and this number will increase in the next few years, so we view this as a highly critical sector from both a federal and local level,” Al Saleh explained.

“The UAE government is keen on providing all forms of support for such businesses, including the passing of the SME law last year which established an SME Council to help oversee the growth of SMEs,” he added.

With the UAE setting out a major strategic vision for 2021, the role of SMEs will play a crucial part in helping the country achieve its goals, the undersecretary said.

“As part of the innovation strategy the country is focusing on key sectors such as technology, health care, education and environmental sustainability among others. All of this will have a positive economic impact and will allow for opportunities as well as cooperation among SMEs at several different levels,” he said.