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Abu Dhabi acts to cushion the blow of coronavirus on UAE companies

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An abra driver wears protective gloves and a face mask on March 18, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Francois Nel | Getty Images

Abu Dhabi is putting its development plans “on steroids” despite low oil prices and the global coronavirus outbreak, according to the chairman of the city’s department of economic development.

“One of the most important things is that Abu Dhabi as a government is continuing developing its capital investments … which was planned for 2020,” Mohammed Ali al-Shorafa told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Thursday.

“Abu Dhabi has the resources, even at these levels of crude oil prices, to continue with its planned progression,” he said.

That may include fiscal reform, monetary policy initiatives and new projects. “We haven’t moved away from the plans, we’re actually putting these plans on steroids,” he added.

His comments come as economies around the world grapple with the ongoing health crisis that has sickened more than 207,000 people and killed at least 8,600.

The United Arab Emirates has close to 100 confirmed cases, and on Thursday implemented stringent restrictions that bar even residency visa holders who are abroad from entering the country for two weeks.

Abu Dhabi has also announced a raft of measures to support its economy in this period. That includes a 5 billion dirham ($1.36 billion) water and electricity subsidies for citizens and businesses. Rental rebates are also being offered to restaurants, as well as the tourism and entertainment sectors.

“The government is trying now to make (the economy) as resilient as possible,” he said. It is also looking beyond the crisis for opportunities and initiatives that will help the country, he added.

Asked if there would be more measures planned for roll out, al-Shorafa said Abu Dhabi is looking at it “very closely.”

“It’s a global crisis, but at the same time, we have to look at what are the initiatives to enable the economy and give it that drive.”

— CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this report.

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