Dubai unveils blueprint to boost economy and hit D33 targets

Dubai’s Executive Council has approved a plan to stimulate the emirate’s industrial sector and hit the targets set out in the Dubai Economic Agenda D33.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has approved a set of new initiatives to enable growth in Dubai’s industrial sector, including incentives for the agricultural technology sector.

Sheikh Hamdan said: “We approved a set of incentives to double the contribution of the industrial and agricultural technology sectors to Dubai’s economy over the next 10 years. The goal of these initiatives aligns with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. We also rolled out a plan to progressively phase out the use of single-use plastics.”

The Crown Prince stressed the social impact of curbing single-use plastics, nurturing sustainability and promoting climate awareness.

Ambitious in its scope, the plan aims to increase manufacturing value added by Dhs58bn (£12.7bn), two-and-a-half times the industry’s current value.

It consists of three key programmes for the period 2024-2033:

  • The National Program, which supports all manufacturing companies.
  • The Special Program, catering for priority sectors.
  • The Strategic Program, to stimulate growth through exemptions, investments in infrastructure, and capital facilities.

The council also approved the Government Procurement Program’s In-Country Value Program to support local businesses, stimulate SME growth and encourage local production. This will require government departments to allocate a percentage of purchases to SMEs.

It aims to include clauses in procurement contracts with financing options for SMEs and will set up a local content management department to support and direct government procurement of local content.

Payments industry set for profits surge thanks to AI

The UAE payments industry is projected to see strong growth, with total revenue expected to surge by 55% to reach a record $19.8bn in the next five years, according to global consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

BCG said growth in the country’s payments sector is being fuelled by a surge in digital transactions and technological advancements driven by the emergence of generative AI (GenAI).

In its ‘Global Payments Report 2023’, the consultancy firm that the total revenue for the UAE payments industry grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% between 2018 and 2022 to $12.8bn.

The report highlights “the emirates’ distinctive position as a global hub for innovation, where payment providers are poised to redefine their roles and services”.

BCG projected that overall revenue growth in the UAE’s payments sector will increase in the next five years to a CAGR of 3.6%, increasing revenues to $19.8bn. The growth forecasts exceed the global payments industry’s projected CAGR of 6.2%.

Mohammad Khan, managing director and a partner at BCG, said: “While our research shows a slower growth seen globally, the UAE payments revenue pool is expected to grow in the years ahead. The UAE is experiencing a defining moment for those in merchant services, issuers, transaction banks, and payment infrastructure.”

Khan attributed the growth in the country’s payments industry to the adoption of innovative technologies to speed up and improve organisational processes. “This evolution will improve customer pathways and offer specialised solutions, resulting in heightened service quality and profit growth,” he said.

The significant transformation in the UAE’s payments industry can be attributed to operational resilience, GenAI, risk management and compliance, and mergers and acquisitions.

The report said that changing customer behaviours and reimagined customer experiences – marked by an increasing desire for frictionless, more seamless and intuitive value-added banking experiences – are driving incumbents to develop open, collaborative financial ecosystems.

BCG said the growth in the UAE’s payments industry can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the transition from cash to non-cash transactions.