UAE top choice for GCC investors as 80% investments come from region

Number of investors the Emirates attracted until the beginning of 2009. (EB FILE)

The UAE has emerged as the best destination for investors from its partners in the GCC, attracting more than 22,000 investors from those countries until the beginning of 2009, according to official data.

The number accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the total investments and other economic activities licensed for citizens in the six-member countries, showed the figures by the Riyadh-based GCC Secretariat.

The report showed the UAE was also the most attractive for GCC investors in its joint-stock companies, with the number of GCC shareholders in its listed firms exceeding 382,000 at the start of 2009, more than half the GCC's total. In a 100-page report on the GCC common market, the Secretariat estimated the total licences for investments and other economic and commercial operations granted to regional investors in the six members at 27,567 at the start of 2009.

The figure is nearly 72 per cent higher than the licences at the start of 2008, when they stood at 15,977. It was by far the largest annual increase in such activities since the six members created their group in 1981. Analyst said the increase was due to a surge in GCC economies in 2008 and opening up of new sectors to foreigners, mainly in the UAE.

The report showed most of the rise in 2008 was in the UAE, when investment and economic licences nearly doubled to 22,044 at the beginning of 2009 from 11,083 at the beginning of 2008.

It showed there were modest increases in the other GCC members, with licences rising from 2,628 to 2,870 in Kuwait, the second most attractive investment destination. Licences increased from 1,530 to 1,588 in Bahrain, from 301 to 494 in Saudi Arabia, from 196 to 319 in Oman and from 239 to 252 in Qatar.

The report gave no details of the investment but GCC citizens in the UAE are believed to be involved in such sectors as property, industry and services.

In terms of equity investment, the UAE also emerged as the largest base of GCC investors, with their number peaking at 382,741 at the start of 2009, more than half the total inter-GCC stocks investors of 658,094, according to the report.

Qatar came second, attracting 230,502 equity investors from the other GCC countries. It was followed by Bahrain with 26,664, Oman with 13,804, Saudi Arabia with 4,169 and Kuwait with 214 investors.

In banking, the report showed the UAE has the largest number of GCC bank branches in the region, standing at six at the beginning of 2009. Saudi and Bahrain had five GCC bank branches each and four in Kuwait, two in Oman and one in Qatar.

 

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