ABU DHABI, 29th March, 2017 (WAM) -- The opening day of the inaugural Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, GMIS, ended yesterday with a warning from one of the UAE's most senior figures, commented a UAE daily.

In an editorial on Wednesday, The National quoted Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, as saying, "The UAE will have to compete in areas where it has a competitive advantage.

The paper went on to say, "That future is fast approaching, if it is not already here. As the price of oil drops, the UAE has turned to diversifying its economy to sustain overall growth. Manufacturing is one often-overlooked area. It is overlooked mainly because it is perceived as too expensive, requiring too many subsidies from government, and because, with so many goods imported into the UAE, it is hard to discover the country's particular comparative advantage.

"Yet as another GMIS announcement demonstrates, innovation is possible. High-end factories, or microfactories, will be pioneered in the UAE. These are smaller facilities that often do very specific jobs, such as producing specialised components. Because they are small, they can be placed in population centres, can be largely automated and require only a few, though highly-skilled, workers.

"This demonstrates the reasoning behind expanding the manufacturing base of the UAE. Of course microfactories are not the whole solution, but they point to the effects small manufacturing projects can have on the wider jobs market. In particular, manufacturing has the potential to employ workers from the shop-floor through to management; from high-school leavers to PhD holders. Not many industries can claim that.

"Imagine, for instance, a factory building specialised in alternative energy parts. This would require young trainees, who perhaps go straight in after compulsory education. It would require management graduates. And it would require scientists and engineers with advanced degrees.

"Taken together, then, even a small manufacturing base would provide jobs at all levels of education and the opportunity to progress. That is a crucial difference with, for example, service sectors such as call centres. High-tech manufacturing is only one answer. Moving away from oil will require finding lots of new jobs. Some will be found by the UAE starting to make things," concluded the Abu Dhabi-based daily.

Source: Emirates News Agency