Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council has approved legislation to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in the emirate’s specialised economic zones. The announcement was made on 14 December at the official launch of the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi II (ICAD II – MEED 25:11:05).

‘The government of Abu Dhabi has recently enacted legislation that will greatly further the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones’ (HCSEZs’) ability to deliver on this new vision for the [emirate],’ said Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Planning & Economy.

Under the new law, HCSEZs will have a wide remit that includes granting companies 100 per cent foreign ownership, issuing licences and permits, providing or issuing tax exemptions, issuing customs duty deferrals, carrying out municipality functions, providing utility services and developing public-private partnerships (PPPs).

The ICAD II is the second industrial zone to be launched in the emirate. ICAD I in the Mussafah district has secured AED 5,000 million ($1,360 million) in investment. Forty-five factories are operational, with a further 42 under construction. In total, 90 per cent of the land has been leased.

ICAD II is set to be the benchmark for the capital’s heavy industrial sector. Spread over an area of 10 square kilometres, about 60 per cent has been pre-leased. It has also attracted AED 6,000 million ($1,633 million) in investment. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)and MacquarieBankwill finance the project through an industrial fund. Al-Jaber Group has a 25-year lease agreement for the construction of the buildings.

HCSEZ, which is responsible for the infrastructure, has shortlisted three companies for the infrastructure works contract at ICAD II. The estimated $135 million contract will be awarded on a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) design and build basis. The shortlisted companies, all local, are Admak Contracting, Al-Jaber and Al-Geemi & Partners Contracting. The scope of works includes construction of 26 kilometres of internal roads, telecommunications infrastructure, potable water, sanitary and drainage systems and pumping stations. Singapore-based Jurong Internationalis the consultant (MEED 25:11:05).

The industrial plans could see as many as 20 special economic zones unveiled in phases. Potential clusters include an oil and gas complex to serve the industry, chemicals, construction materials and engineering and metals areas, including a world-scale aluminium smelter.