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A huge stimulus and reform package designed to boost the private sector and quality of life in Abu Dhabi delivered in its first year, officials have said.

The Ghadan 21 programme, a Dh50 billion investment project over three years, has been credited with creating a boost to business confidence, provided vital investment to researchers and start-ups and led to the development of new community spaces and events.

A string of new projects, including a new cycle system for Abu Dhabi and new or improved parks across the Emirate, are set to be rolled out over the next two years.

Meanwhile, business reforms, which include an overhaul to licenses, contributed to a 3.4 per cent increase in Abu Dhabi’s business confidence index score last year showing the “remarkable impact on the economy” of the scheme, according to the Abu Dhabi government.

“Through Ghadan 21 we are investing in initiatives that make doing business easier and more attractive, encourage ideas and support innovation for a tech-enabled future, as well as ensure the well-being of Abu Dhabi’s people,” Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, said.

“We will continue to launch initiatives … to accelerate Abu Dhabi’s journey to become one of the best and most inclusive places in the world to do business, invest, work, study and live.”

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He added: “I’m pleased to launch today the results achieved in the first year of the Ghadan 21 accelerator programme, which was launched to drive Abu Dhabi’s development by focusing on economy, knowledge and community.”

Among the programmes coming under the umbrella of Ghadan 21 are Hub71, an incubator scheme designed to lure tech start-ups to Abu Dhabi. It is currently home to 39 businesses.

Another element is the For Abu Dhabi initiative, which is working on hundreds of urban regeneration projects. Among these are an ‘urban forest’ being planted in Reem Island, announced last week, as part of a drive to make the city more ‘liveable’. Colourful new pieces of public art appearing in Abu Dhabi are also the result of the scheme.

Ma’an, a new government agency tasked with tackling social problems, has been set up and is currently working on establishing new mental health services for residents.

First announced in September 2018, Ghadan 21, which runs between 2019 and 2021, has an overarching goal of reducing Abu Dhabi’s reliance on oil. Almost half of the Dh50bn funding – Dh20bn – was earmarked for spending in the first year of the scheme.

More developments will be announced imminently, according to WAM, the UAE’s state news agency.

“Additional legislative changes, policy development programmes, and deregulatory and incentive schemes are well underway to effect further changes,” WAM reported.

“[These] will have an increasingly tangible impact on doing business, pursuing knowledge and innovation, and quality of life across the emirate, benefitting Emirati nationals and expatriate residents in many facets, and reinforcing Abu Dhabi’s stature as one of the region’s leading places to work, learn, and live.”

Source: The National

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