UAE, ABU DHABI - Economy
Director of Regional Development, Western Region Development Council (WRDC)
Mohamed Ebrahim Al Hosani has a degree in Civil Engineering from UAEU and joined the Western Region Development Council (WRDC) in 2007, where he now leads the Regional Development division. He previously worked at the Ruwais Heavy Industrial Complex with Takreer.
Al Gharbia is also known as the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate and accounts for 60% of the landmass, but only 12% of the population. Despite the low population, it generates 45% of GDP. The region is, therefore, very important socially, economically, and strategically, and the government is paying special attention to it, having created the Western Region Development Council (WRDC). Everyone is working toward the overall development of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, but the government clearly wants to fast-track Al Gharbia. We report to the government, and act as a development agency for the region to deliver the region’s vision and advice on implementing plans for all sectors, all the way from ideas, research, feasibility, to project management and private investments. Therefore, we believe that the region should be the energy base of the UAE. We have the ideas, but we are not an authority per se. Whatever we do toward realizing the vision, such as the planning, implementation, and project management, should ultimately be sold to the people. For that, we need government approval and private sector financing.
Abu Dhabi has oil and gas, 90% of which is in Al Gharbia. We have the largest gas plant in the world and the biggest oil refinery. We can, therefore, create more supporting industries for those mega investments. The next important sector is petrochemicals. As a growing local and global market, the investment climate is favorable for this sector. However, in Al Gharbia, there is also a local community with limited opportunities. When they see a refinery being built next to a town, people begin to wonder what is in it for them. We have to make sure, therefore, that the communities similarly benefit. This can be done through creating job opportunities for both women and men in addition to providing more scholarships for students and attractive incentives for local entrepreneurs. This results in a multi-faceted positive impact on the economic and social wellbeing of our people.
Sir Bani Yas is the center of Al Gharbia’s tourism market. The government has invested heavily in developing its infrastructure. Liwa is another major destination for tourism. Over 2013, we worked to create new facilities and islands, and we want to introduce a plan for light, small-, and medium-sized projects. At the moment, we are planning a tourism camp and have already received the requisite approvals. Development should begin soon, and is exclusively spearheaded by the private sector. It is called the Liwa Knowledge and Experience Center. Naturally, we also boast larger scale facilities, such as five-star hotels, and we plan to build a number of business hotels in the townships.
Al Gharbia is the gateway to the UAE, and we expect many visitors; however, we will continue to promote its industrial activities. Phases I and II of Etihad Rail are in Al Gharbia. Yet this is not merely connecting people, but also projects, and will promote light industrial activities. Once the project is complete, it will connect Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE to the outer world.
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