09 December 2018: Abu Dhabi has officially been selected to host the 2019 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) General Conference (GC), the organisation’s supreme policy-making organ which convenes every two years. The announcement was made following a vote by the 53 member states of the Industrial Development Board (IDB) at their 46th annual meeting in Vienna where they convened to review the implementation of the UNIDO work programme, approve budgets, and make recommendations to the General Conference on policy matters. The consensus is a testament to the growing confidence in the UAE’s role in shaping the future of manufacturing, and its development of a robust industrial base as part of a national vision for a diversified, knowledge-based, highly productive and competitive economy. Since becoming a specialised agency in 1985, UNIDO has never hosted the General Conference in the Middle East, and only hosted it away from its Vienna headquarters three times: in Bangkok, Thailand (1987), Yaoundé, Cameroon (1993), and Lima, Peru (2013).
UNIDO and the UAE have a long-standing relationship, with both serving as co-chairs for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), the world’s first cross-industry platform that gathers leaders from public and private sectors and civil society to harness the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) transformation of manufacturing to the regeneration of the global economy. The platform has seen Abu Dhabi emerge as a leader in driving this transformation, and hosting the UNIDO GC will build on its continuous efforts and initiatives, which seek to shape the future of manufacturing while promoting industrialisation for poverty reduction, inclusive global development, and environmental sustainability.
The General Conference is scheduled to be held at the end of 2019 and will be preceded by UNIDO’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Ministerial Conference. As the world’s largest donor of official development aid relative to national income, a leader in smart strategies, and a strategically positioned geographic location between East and West, the UAE has continuously demonstrated its commitment to contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Home to the ministerial Fourth Industrial Revolution Council, a first of its kind in the world, and co-chair to the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, hosting the UNIDO GC in Abu Dhabi will allow countries to benefit from a global pool of capabilities and enhance their understanding of, and preparation for, the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
According to data from Oxford Economics, from 2007 to 2017, the UAE’s industrial sector (which includes extraction, manufacturing, utilities and construction) has grown by more than a third, and is forecast to grow by another third over the next decade. An integral part of the global supply chain, companies in the UAE such as Strata Manufacturing, the region’s only aircraft parts manufacturer, Emirates Global Aluminum, which was the world’s largest ‘premium aluminum’ producer in 2017, and defence vehicle manufacturer NIMR Automotive, have proven their capabilities and evolved into global players in knowledge-based and cutting-edge sectors.
Following the announcement, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, affirmed the UAE’s commitment to enabling inclusive and sustainable industrial development as a catalyst for economic and social prosperity, and commented on the occasion: “Selecting Abu Dhabi to host the 18th UNIDO General Conference reflects the international recognition of the UAE’s significant role in supporting the global industrial sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The UAE remains a pioneer in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and continues to bridge and connect civilisations between the East and West. Through its partnership with UNIDO in the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, the UAE is well-positioned to play a strategic role in shaping the future of the global manufacturing sector.”
UNIDO Director General LI Yong said: “We highly appreciate the generous offer of the Government of the United Arab Emirates to host the eighteenth session of the UNIDO General Conference in Abu Dhabi. I look forward to further strengthening our ties, especially since UNIDO and the United Arab Emirates share the commitment to take a transformational approach towards shaping the future of manufacturing and jointly co-chair the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit.”
His Excellency Eng. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy & Industry said: “The UAE has flourished in a relatively short period of time since its establishment, but many challenges had to be overcome to achieve this. Our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had the vision to leverage oil wealth to build a prosperous nation and enhance the welfare of UAE citizens, developing what are now world-class healthcare and education systems, and a globally competitive economy. This vision, however, was not exclusive to the people of the UAE; in the midst of the country’s renaissance, it arose as a leader in international cooperation and in the provision of humanitarian relief and development support to those less fortunate across the world.
“Clearly, spreading global prosperity is deeply instilled into our belief system, and unlocking the potential of the manufacturing sector will support our efforts; it has always been a key contributor to social and economic welfare, and is instrumental to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, the 2030 Agenda is being carried out at a time when the lines are blurred between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. The developments that the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings must be exploited to ensure prosperity is shared across all societies, particularly in developing countries. This is something we have been focused on delivering through the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit with UNIDO as our co-chair, and we have no doubt that our efforts will be amplified by hosting the UNIDO General Conference in the UAE.”
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been instrumental in the UAE’s efforts to drive industrial development, with the Department of Economic Development – Abu Dhabi (DED) having shaped the Emirate’s Industrial Strategy 2011-2015. The DED also established a department focused on the development of the industrial sector, and cooperated with government and semi-governmental bodies to update the industrial strategy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2016-2020.
His Excellency Saif Mohammed Al Hajeri, Chairman of the DED said: “The Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification roadmap – Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 – has set out a goal for the non‑oil sector to raise its contribution to GDP from 41% in 2005 to 64% by 2030, and the development of the industrial sector is specifically recognised for its vast potential to contribute to this goal. We have already made headway in achieving this objective, with the sector’s contribution to GDP in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi having increased from 5% to 7% in recent years. This is a clear demonstration of the success of the Emirate-wide industrial strategy, which aims to attract foreign direct investment and facilitate a smooth transition to a post-oil economy. “Collaboration is key to achieving our vision, and we are honoured that Abu Dhabi was chosen to host the UNIDO General Conference in 2019. We look forward to welcoming the UNIDO Member States to Abu Dhabi, and to discussing how the sector can drive competitiveness and social welfare all over the world.”
Badr Al Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), said: “GMIS was established with a strong conviction and mandate to make the Fourth Industrial Revolution fully inclusive, harnessing its potential in manufacturing to make the world a better place for all. We have made great progress with UNIDO and the UAE Ministry of Energy & Industry as co-chairs of GMIS, and have attracted interest from stakeholders all over the world who share our commitment. As a cross-industry platform, the tangible outcomes that GMIS has delivered have been made possible through global collaboration and partnerships.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is seeing disruption across all sectors, and GMIS’ approach is to empower the manufacturing sector to not only deploy new technologies, but to anticipate and leverage such disruption to the sector’s benefit and in a way that maximises social and economic impact. As such, we are absolutely thrilled to be hosting the UNIDO General Conference in Abu Dhabi. This is a new milestone for GMIS, and marks the beginning of a new era in which policy-makers address anticipated changes to the sector, and channel them towards achieving global prosperity, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The UNIDO GC will take place at the end of 2019 in Abu Dhabi. As the host country to the UNIDO GC, the UAE will have the opportunity to nominate a President for the GC and recommend a theme for the conference, both of which are currently underway.