The UAE has pledged to push ahead with legislative reforms to improve its business environment and attract more private investment in its infrastructure development plans.

‘’A major consideration in the development strategy of the UAE today is opening up more sectors for private investment and encouraging public-private partnerships [PPP] in major projects,’’ said Abdulla Sultan Alfan al-Shamsi, councillor of industrial affairs, Ministry of Economy, speaking at MEED’s Arabian World Construction Summit (AWCS) in Abu Dhabi.

Al-Shamsi spoke of the ministry’s commitment to draft new laws and modify existing ones on competition and foreign investment to attract private investment and encourage PPPs for major construction projects.

‘’The Ministry of Economy, as mandated by the federal government, is currently coordinating efforts to draft new laws and modify existing ones governing competition, foreign investment, arbitration, intellectual property, companies, industries and small and medium enterprises,’’ he said.

In addition to increasing the role of the private sector, the minister also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to invest in its infrastructure programme throughout the UAE.

‘’Already we are aiming for more infrastructure investment across the Northern Emirates. Earlier this year, our leadership made a commitment to spend $1.6bn on electricity and water networks in the Northern Emirates.’’

The construction sector contributed more than 10 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2010 and is a key component of the UAE’s economic growth plans.

‘’Construction was one of the leading economic areas of activity for the UAE in its early years and will remain so in the future,’’ said Al-Shamsi.

The UAE’s geographic position is a key factor that will help consolidate its position as a regional hub and facilitate further growth for the UAE’s construction sector.

‘’The UAE’s proximity to North Africa and Asia means that it is the most convenient gateway to the Mena market,’’ said Al-Shamsi.