The UAE has pumped in excess of $53 billion into foreign markets over the past two decades to emerge as the largest Arab capital exporter and the 30th in the world, according to a United Nations group.
The UAE was outstripped only by developed countries as it was ahead of most capital exporters in the developing nations, recording the largest outflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Arab region.
Figures by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed FDI channeled by the UAE into global markets totalled around $53.5 billion during 1990-2009, by far the largest capital flow out of the Arab world.
The figures covered only FDI as they did not include capital channelled by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), with assets of between $300-900 billion.
The report showed FDI flow out of the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, climbed to a record high of around $15.8 billion in 2008 from $14.5 billion in 2007 before plunging to nearly $2.7 billion in 2009 apparently because of the global fiscal crisis and lower oil prices.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s top oil exporter, came second in the Arab world, pumping around $40.3 billion in FDI during 1990-2009.
Qatar, the largest global LNG supplier, overtook Kuwait for the first time in FDI outflow, which stood at around $16.03 billion. Kuwait pumped nearly $16.01 billion, followed by Libya with around $11.9 billion.
The report showed the United States was the top capital exporter in the world, channelling around $4.3 trillion, more than a fifth of the world’s total FDI outflow of nearly $18.9 trillion. It was followed by France with around $1.71 trillion, Britain with $1.65 trillion, and Germany with $1.37 trillion. China also emerged as a giant capital exporter with nearly $1.36 trillion.
As for FDI inflow, the UAE was second only to Saudi Arabia, attracting nearly $73.4 billion during 1990-2009, according to UNCTAD.
FDI flow into Saudi Arabia totaled about $147.1 billion during that period while Egypt was ranked third, with FDI inflow of nearly $66.7 billion. Morocco came fourth, attracting around $40.7 billion, followed by Lebanon and Tunisia, with nearly $32.08 billion and $31.8 billion respectively.
UNCTAD figures showed the bulk of the UAE’s FDI flow targeted other Arab countries, with nearly $62 billion invested in the region.
This turned the UAE into the dominant inter-Arab investor, accounting for more than a third of the total inter-Arab capital during that period.
Saudi Arabia accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the UAE’s investments while Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia were also major recipients.
The report showed cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) channelled by the UAE into the other Arab markets totaled $62.4 billion during 1990-2009 while the country received around $13.1 billion in capital from fellow Arab nations.
It gave no breakdown for the UAE’s FDI in Saudi Arabia but the Dubai-based Emaar and Etisalat telecommunication operator are the largest investors in the Gulf Kingdom, covering economic cities and the GSM provider Mobily.
During 2004-2007, the UAE was the second largest foreign investor in Saudi Arabia after Japan but it is expected to top the list with the completion of the giant Economic City project in the country, according to official Saudi data.