How has the year been so far for the UAE manufacturing sector?
Despite the pandemic, this year has been extraordinary in the strategic direction that leaders have set to promote domestic manufacturing. Operation 300 billion, the new strategy announced earlier this year to increase the sector’s share of GDP by 133 billion Dhs currently
to 300 billion Dhs by 2031, gave a boost to the industry, with the “Make it in the Emirates” plan aimed at increasing not only the manufacturing base, but also considerable value in the country.
The pandemic has actually given a boost to local manufacturing as industries seek to be more self-reliant and create a stronger national value chain.
In addition, the growth of e-commerce and the good performance of the F&B sector driven by an online model has highlighted the need to strengthen the supply of basic raw materials locally.
What kind of impact do you think the 300 billion operation strategy will have in the long term?
I see the $ 300 billion operation strategy as a game changer in the transformation of the country’s manufacturing sector. It sets out the leadership’s commitment to boost local manufacturing, which encourages domestic and international investors to explore the growth opportunities offered by the country.
By strengthening domestic industrial and manufacturing skills, the strategy will create a strong supply chain and foster innovation. The impact of the strategy is already being felt, as it has boosted investor confidence and helped increase domestic manufacturing in various sectors. The long-term strategic impact will be the evolution of the UAE as a global industrial hub, serving the entire Middle East and North Africa region.
What are the biggest challenges local manufacturers face?
A major challenge for local manufacturers has been to attract talent, as manufacturing is still seen as ’emerging’. With the government’s new push to promote localized manufacturing, I expect the nation to attract more talent from around the world. This is crucial to stimulate innovation in our sector.
There have also been challenges in supply chain management, especially in the sourcing of raw materials.
Al Bayader recently announced the expansion of its Jebel Ali factory, and you are also building a mega industrial complex in Sharjah. Is this primarily aimed at national / regional growth or international exports?
Our new expansion, both through our upgraded Jebel Ali facilities and the new mega-industrial complex in Sharjah, is aimed at both domestic growth to meet the growing demand for food packaging products as well as for international markets.
These initiatives are aligned with our commitment to support the nation’s Operation 300 billion strategy and mark significant investments on our part. We invested 200 million Dhs for the Jebel Ali facility expansion program and secured funding to build the largest food packaging industrial complex in the region, covering an area of 450,000 square feet, in Sharjah. .
When completed in 2023, it will quadruple our total production capacity to over 120,000 tonnes, significantly increasing our exports.
In the future, what role do you see automation playing in the manufacturing process?
Automation is at the heart of strengthening manufacturing and I see advanced technologies playing a bigger role in driving the industry. The Fourth Industrial Revolution opened important opportunities for the industry as a whole to achieve higher levels of operational efficiency and productivity. Our new industrial complex continues to build on our goal of promoting R&D in industry.
Finally, do you see many more manufacturers emerging in the UAE in the near future? Which segments of the industry are most conducive to growth?
The $ 300 billion operation is a catalyst for new manufacturers as well as existing players to expand their operations. There will be new initiatives and manufacturing companies in all key areas – the most important aspect of getting there is finding your niche. The new economic landscape calls for innovative manufacturing initiatives, especially as customers turn to e-commerce. There is enormous potential in the food packaging and catering industry, as well as in all areas of retail.