The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the healthiest economies in the world and, as a result, it has been able to invest heavily in its infrastructure sector. A recent study conducted by Agility, a prominent logistics firm, ranked the UAE as having the best quality of infrastructure in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
According to CEO of Agility MENA, Elias Monem, “The countries in the region are moving aggressively to spur non-energy economic growth, create jobs, lure new investment, and develop knowledge economies.” In line with that strategy, here are four major ongoing developments regarding the UAE’s infrastructure sector.
The Al Mamoura and Al Maqta Canal
Two major ongoing infrastructure projects in the UAE involve Al Mamoura and Al Maqta Canal. The Al Mamoura project, located in Abu Dhabi City and stretching across 63,000 square meters, includes the construction of residential buildings as well as 176 villas, four parks, and three mosques. A school, community center, government building, and military site will also be constructed, as will an 11.5-kilometer internal road network and 11 utility stations.
The project is being managed by the Abu Dhabi General Services Company Musanada in conjunction with the Department of Transport and the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities. These integrated, full-service communities will be of tremendous benefit to residents, noted Afraa Al Hajeri, head of the infrastructure section at Abu Dhabi Housing Authority.
Additionally, Abu Dhabi Municipality is close to completing the construction of necessary roads and infrastructure in District 25 of the Al Maqta Canal. This infrastructure includes road signs and street lighting that will serve 66 new residential units on both sides of the Al Maqta Canal. The project spreads across more than 110,000 square meters and was expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018.
Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Safety and Sustainability
The UAE expects to be a global leader in the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) as outlined in its Artificial Strategy of 2021, and it is taking measures through the construction of its roads to ensure that happens. One of the major ongoing road projects is the Kalba Ring Road. Upon completion, it will stretch 12.5 kilometers and contribute to a significant reduction in traffic congestion on internal roads of Kalba city. It’s expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2019 and has been expedited by the use of AI.
The decision to utilize AI technology for federal roads projects was announced in April 2018 by Dr. Abdullah Al Nuaimi, UAE minister of infrastructure development, and Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, minister of state for AI. Among other benefits, the use of AI contributes to occupational safety as well as environmental protection through a reduction in fuel consumption.
It also decreases the time and cost associated with completing a major project. According to Al Olma, the use of AI will lead to improved safety for workers and will also reduce the cost of construction substantially. In fact, the increase in efficiency will lead to an 80 percent reduction in the amount of labor required to complete the project.
Infrastructure Investment Partnership with India
A changing political landscape in India has made the Asian country a prime business partner with the UAE. In 2015, the UAE pledged to invest Dh275 billion ($75 billion) in India’s infrastructure sector. Separate investments of $1 billion and $3 billion have since been announced, but Indian prime minister Narenda Modi visited Dubai in February in hope of expediting the process. The UAE is home to an estimated 2.6 million Indian expatriates, and the two countries are trusted trading partners. It stands to reason that the UAE would seek out profitable investment opportunities in India, especially given its recent economic growth.
The IMF estimates India’s economy will grow at a rate of 7.5 percent in 2018, according to Prasad Nallapati, president of the Centre for Asia-Africa Policy Research. Additionally, the country’s credit rating has been upgraded for the first time in over a decade; India is now rated Baa2. There is every reason to anticipate India’s economy will continue on a promising trajectory in years to come. Similarly, the UAE’s real estate and transportation sectors, among others, are prime targets for Indian investment in the UAE.
Construction Activity Driving Economic Growth
Despite only a slight growth in oil production during the next two years, the UAE’s real GDP will continue to grow. This is primarily due to investment in the country’s infrastructure sector driven by Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai. However, an increase in construction is expected to take place in other Emirates as well. In part, this is because the UAE is attempting to diversify its economy, moving away from relying solely on fossil fuel production. According to a report released by BMI Research, the UAE will experience real growth of 8.9 percent in 2018 and 9.7 in 2019.