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03 March 2024

Dubai stays put on a growth trajectory

By VM Sathish

Even in the current global economic gloom, Dubai continues to remain an economic miracle, thanks to its visionary ruler His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The innovation-driven, high-value-added diversified economy, under the wise leadership of Sheikh Mohammed, is taking new measures to counter the negative fallout of the global economic crisis and the double dip inflation that threatens the US and European economies.

Under his wise leadership, Dubai continues to strive for the No.1 position in every sector.

The not-so-long ago small town of traders, fishermen and pearl collectors, is forgotten. Dubai has blossomed on the world stage and continues to attract global attention.

The city’s continued growth is a manifestation of Sheikh Mohammed’s dream of building world famous skyscrapers and excellent infrastructure facilities.

From a city of sand dunes rises now the world’s tallest tower. Sheikh Mohammed’s accession to power helped consolidate the diversified development of the emirate in the fields of health, construction, tourism, culture and sports. Dubai’s Gross Domestic Product has grown more than a hundred times over the last four decades.

Dubai’s economic growth not only benefitted the people of Dubai, but it has played a major role in the overall development of the UAE and its acceptance as a role model for other countries. The regional and international impact is no less.

At the peak of the global economic crisis and refuting all doomsday predictions, Sheikh Mohammed inaugurated Dubai Metro’s Red Line on 9th September 2009 and within a short time, it has become a state-of the-art transport system thronged by thousands of commuters every day.

The huge success of Dubai Metro is a manifestation of the long-term vision of Dubai’s Ruler who announced the metro project about five years ago to prepare the city to receive 15 million tourists annually. For many countries in the Middle East and beyond, Dubai Metro is a model for their first railway network.

Extraordinary pace of growth

According to a report by the Economic Policy and Research Centre (EPRC), the operational arm of the Secretariat-General of the Dubai Economic Council, Dubai's economy underwent extraordinary expansion in the past three and a half decades. Between 1975 and 2008, its output expanded by a factor of 11 in real terms.

"It can be seen, nevertheless, that the pace of economic growth has not been smooth. While annual GDP [gross domestic product] growth was sustained in the 1975-1990 period at around 6 per cent, it was in the last 15 years that Dubai's GDP grew at an extraordinary pace by international standards: almost 9 per cent per year.

"If one only focuses on the period 2000-2008, annual growth rate has been on average above 10 per cent," the study added. "Few countries in the world have been able to sustain such extraordinary pace of growth for an extended period of time."

The UAE’s GDP is expected to peak at Dh1.248 trillion at current prices this year to maintain its position as the largest economy in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia.

The expected level this year will be nearly 198 times the country’s nominal gross domestic product of Dh6.5 billion when it was established in 1971, the Dubai Economic Council study said.

Resilient and Recession-proof

Dubai has emerged stronger from each crisis in recent history. From a small but strategically important sea port, encircled by a traditional souq (market) of about 350 shops on the banks of the creek, the astronomical growth of the port and Dubai’s economy began with the dredging of the Creek by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the-then Ruler of Dubai.

The ambitious and costly project was the beginning of several visionary multi-billion projects started by Sheikh Mohammed.

Unlike other emirates which benefitted from oil revenue, Dubai has always thrived on non-oil businesses like tourism and trade. It is a hub for wholesale and retail trade with its world-class shopping malls attracting shoppers from around the world.

The Dubai Shopping Festival has completed a successful decade. Shoppers from India, Pakistan, Middle East and other parts of the world throng Dubai to purchase electronic products, jewellery, and other valuables at competitive rates.

Even after regional countries changed their import policies drastically, Dubai continues to attract shoppers. It is also the City of Gold, where tons of gold change hands every day as tourists and traders from the region shop for the best bargains.

Investment in infrastructure

Sheikh Mohammed has continued, expanded and speeded up the infrastructure developments started by his late father Sheikh Rashid.

While a thousand kilometres of new roads will help development, Dubai’s airport is now one of the busiest airports in the world. But the emirate is now gearing for the future – it has created the world’s largest airport – Al Maktoum International Airport at Jebel Ali.

The Jebel Ali Port and the ever-growing Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone were the other cornerstones of Dubai’s growth – most of the Fortune 500 companies from around the world use it as a regional hub for their business operations.

For traders and businessmen from a wide geographic region – North Africa to the Indian Subcontinent and from South Africa to the CIS states , Russia and  East Europe),  Dubai is a business hub.

And for the world it is a preferred tourist destination.
Burj Khalifa is the latest addition to the growing number of tourist attractions in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa building stands tall as a symbol of economic confidence and resilience under the great leadership of Sheikh Mohammed.

Dubai may have been affected by the global economic crisis, but under Sheikh Mohammed, the emirate is redesigning and redrafting the future growth path, learning lessons from the past and getting ready for new opportunities.