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Multi-billion dollar schemes fuel UAE’s industrial evolution

Emirates Development Bank, the UAE’s state-owned lender for the industrial sector, reported an almost tenfold increase in the value of loans it allocated last year.

It is forecasting equally strong growth this year after shifting its focus to supporting major manufacturing projects in the Emirates. 

“The first year that we transformed the bank to focus on the development aspect, we did AED750 million of loans in 2021. In 2022, we did AED6.1 billion,” Emirates Development Bank CEO Ahmed Mohamed al Naqbi told AGBI during an exclusive video interview at the Make it in the Emirates forum late last month. 

The bank unveiled a comprehensive set of approvals for financing deals totalling AED424 million during the forum, which is part of EDB’s mandate of approving AED30 billion to UAE companies by 2026. 

“A lot of companies want to use the UAE as a hub to then re-export….to manufacture locally and then re-export regionally or even globally,” he said.

Decentralising the supply chain

“The world has realised that the centralised model of supply chain is broken,” Al Naqbi said.

“So it has moved to a decentralised version of supply chain which is more regionally focused. And the UAE is by far the best situated in any country in the GCC to become the manufacturing hub for the region.”

While Saudi Arabia has introduced schemes like the Regional Headquarters Program, which pushes global companies to relocate their regional head offices to the kingdom, Al Naqbi does not believe this will be a threat to the UAE’s ambitions to become a major manufacturing hub.

“What Saudi does is good for the UAE and what the UAE does is good for Saudi. This is not a zero-sum game where one has to lose for another one to succeed,” he said. 

The UAE is also working with Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain to specifically work on supply chain issues, according to Omar Al Suwaidi, the undersecretary of the ministry of industry and advanced technology. 

“The UAE has already established itself as a manufacturing hub,” he said. “When it comes to industrial competitiveness, we are the highest in the region. Many countries have similar programmes (like RHQ), especially coming out of Covid-19, to promote self-reliance and self-sufficiency,” said Omar Al Suwaidi. 

“Our role is to continue to lead the region,” he added.

Watch the full video to find out about the UAE’s multi-billion dollar manufacturing and industrial initiatives