Ali Eissa Al-Nuaimi interview with Gulf - 15.8% growth in new licenses during 2016

• 29.6% growth of new professional licenses in 2016 compared to 2015
• Implementing many initiatives which attracted more investors to the Emirate
• 17 E-service launched by the Department during 2016
• 1933 field visits for consumer protection and 10000 counterfeit parts over the last year.

Dialog conducted by: Mamdouh Sawan

The number of new licenses issued in the Emirate of Ajman by 2016 reached 4233 license compared to 3654 license in 2015, the growth rate of 15.8 %, according to HE Ali Eissa Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Department of economic development in Ajman Al-Nuaimi said in a press interview with Gulf newspaper that the emirate continues its developmental role to achieve its " Vision for 2021" launched in 2014, under the wise leadership of HH Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council member and ruler of Ajman, and under the followship of HH Sheikh Ammar Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Ajman Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council , which aims primarily to work towards sustainable development, to make the emirate a trade and investment polarizing center and to enable citizens to enjoy community happiness and welfare. Al-Nuaimi emphasized that the Emirate of Ajman is marching forward at a steady pace towards achieving sustainable economic development built upon know how and innovation-based, and that the Department is operating its services under the guidance of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi,the President of the Department to facilitate customers' requirements and provide better services to investors and dealers with the Department , which was positively reflected during 2016.

The following is the transcript of the interview:-

What is the number of new business licenses issued during the year 2016? What is the rate of its growth? What are your expectations for the coming period?

The number of new licenses issued in the Emirate of Ajman by 2016 compared with the previous year (2015) has grown by 15.8%, as it increased from 3654 in 2015 to 4233 license in 2016, according to preliminary data for 2016, while the number of licenses canceled during the same period rose by 6.5%, reflecting the increased business attractiveness of Ajman by increasing investor confidence in the economy of the Emirate. During 2017 further growth in new licenses is expected ,particularly as the Department is planning to Implement a set of new policies which will enhance more investment in the basic sectors targeted by " 2021 Vision ".

What were the mostly grown licenses during the year 2016?

The Emirate of Ajman is experiencing a significant increase in the number of professional licenses in particular, whereas the number of new licenses increased by 29.6% during 2016 compared to 2015, while the number professional licenses canceled retreated during the same year by 18.2% compared to the last year, which reflects the Emirate's success in its quest for economic diversification, and not rely on a specific sector to realize economic growth.

What are the rates of economic growth achieved in Ajman? And what is the contribution ratio of the most important economic sectors in the Emirate's GDP?

Pursuant to the endeavors of the Emirate of Ajman to achieve sustainable development, the emirate was realizing a stable economic growth rates during recent years clustering around 4%. The GDP of the emirate in 2015 grew at 4.1 % and this growth was due to the noticeable increase in the GDP generated by a range of sectors, notably in social and personal services sector, with a growth rate of 7.4%, the financial enterprises sector with a growth rate of 6.6% then the restaurants and hotels sector with a growth rate of 5.1%. All the preliminary data available in the Department for the year 2016 indicate that further rise in the Emirate's GDP will be achieved in coming years. By analyzing the GDP achieved by the emirate of Ajman during 2015 it is clear that four sectors have contributed by a ratio of 75% in the GDP of the emirate , while the industrial sector came in the first place contributing in its own with more than one third recording a contribution ratio of about (35%), in the second place came the construction and building sector with a share reached 15%, and the wholesale and retail trade and repair services with a relative importance ratio of 13% , finally the real estate and business services sector came in the fourth place with a relative importance ratio of 12%.

What are the most important efforts undertaken by the department to attract new investors to the Emirate during 2016?

On the 7th of January 2015 , the Decree No.(1) for 2015 on the reorganization of work and functions of the Department was passed , whereas the department was given more functions also the Directorate of commercial licensing was transferred from Ajman municipality to the Department , and since then the Department is working to improve the business climate in the Emirate to increase their attractiveness to investors. During 2016 , a range of initiatives were implemented to attract more investors to the emirate , the most important of which was reducing the number of procedures required to start a business in the Emirate to only (6) procedures and the time required has been reduced to only six days . This fact has pushed up the rank of Ajman in the report prepared by the World Bank about ease of doing business in the Emirate during 2016, ranked the 35th globally and ranked above all GCC being in the second place after Dubai which was ranked at 31 at global level . During 2017, it is expected to implement further initiatives that will contribute to the further downsizing of both the duration and number of days required to start a business in the emirate. Based upon the eagerness of the emirate to provide more facilities to investors and encourage them to invest in Ajman , the licensing fee was reduced during 2016, resulting in increasing the competitivness of the emirate to attract more investors this fact is reflected in the increase in the number of new licenses issued as explained before, also the department during 2016 converted into using electronic and smart systems where all the system in the department were developed establishing new channels providing services around the clock all week , which has had a great impact in reducing both the number of clients visiting the department and reduced waiting time for services within the department , also the staff were trained and rehabilitated to act as comprehensive staff which assisted to improve services to be carried more efficiently, in addition to the joint work and cooperation with other competent entities in the Emirate to build The Unified Window system for business licenses, which was partially launched in 2016, preparation are on progress to promote this window to be a comprehensive unified window during 2017. In addition to the fact that during 2016 , the department has signed 10 cooperation agreements with strategic partners, which aims to activate the electronic connections between these systems with the systems of the department , which aims to facilitate the procedures for issuing and renewal of licenses, the most important of such entities are : the Ministry of economy, the Department of Civil Defense in Ajman, Ajman Public Transport Corporation, also signed three partnership agreements with TASEHEEL centers working in the Emirate, to open new Windows and to provide multiple options to customers for obtaining services.

Where is the department standing in respect of applying the concept of Smart Government?

The department is utilizing all its potential resources to develop its services and convert the same from traditional to electronic and smart systems , and during 2016 the department launch 17 smart service, notably in issuing a provisional approval for licensing, reserving trade names, issuance of new license, renewing a license, permits of various types, in addition to inquiring about the cost of issuing a new license or license renewal customers are also able to inquire and follow their transactions electronically, or via Smart Application of the department and during 2017 the department shall proceed to complete the started development process of automate all its services .

Within the efforts of the department in order to improve the business environment in the Emirate, has the department taken the views of investors about the business climate in the Emirate during 2016?

The confidence index in the business climate of Ajman, was measured during 2016 where during the first half of year 2016 109 points were achieved , the index rose in the second half of year 2016 to 119 points, increasing by 10 points compared to the first half of the year , indicating the increasing of positive aspirations of the Emirate's economy, and also indicating that the department is following the right track, whereas the initiatives undertaken by the department reflected positively on investors. The Corporate expectations on their sales revenue indicated that 42% of them expect to see an increase during the second half of the year 2016, and about 43% of companies expected no significant changes while 73% of the participating companies indicated that they did not expect to encounter any obstacles during the second half of the year 2016, compared with 52% of companies participating in the first half of the year, this indicates the low business constraints within the emirate resulting from the package procedures held by Ajman government bodies and departments , in order to facilitate business. The restaurants and hotels sector showed the highest positive expectations during the second half of the year 2016, were 85% of the companies does not expect any obstacles during this half.
What is the average inflation rate in the Emirate of Ajman? And what are the main actions carried out by the Department to reduce inflation?

The annual average inflation rate in Ajman during the last three years reached about 2.8%, which is within the universally accepted limits, to maintain this rate the department is conducting continuous inspection campaigns to monitor traders and make sure they are not to increase prices, also the department educates and aware consumers constantly, requesting them to inform the department about any cases of fraud or price manuplating .
What about the Department's efforts to protect consumers?

During 2016 the department worked on consumer protection through the implementation of field inspection campaigns, which amounted to more than 1933 field visits to markets during such inspections 10000 counterfeit of international brands were seized and confiscated and deterrent actions were taken against the same. Throughout the year, the department was attending consumer complaints relating to cases of commercial fraud, or harmful practices by merchants via the toll 80070 or its email, in addition to its campaign to educate consumers about commercial fraud which lasted for five days, coinciding with the GCC consumer protection day during March 2016, where the staff of the department from the stand launched at Ajman City Center has presented a range of original products and other non-indigenous products ( Imitations), also another campaign was organized during the month of June to define the rights of consumers, and how to identify appropriate products for quality and safety standards.
What are your expectations for investment in Ajman? And what are the main sectors targeted during the next period?

The total fixed capital formation (investments) in the Emirate of Ajman increased by 8.5% in 2015, where the restaurants and hotels sector comes in first place, as investment in this sector increased by 72.6% in 2015, followed by financial enterprises sector, which increased by 27.3%. As for future prospects for investment growth, the Emirate of Ajman attaches particular importance to the five key areas, which are expected to boom in the coming period, namely, manufacturing, logistics, outsourcing, information, plus tourism investments which has rose dramatically during the last year.