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Economy grows by 14 per cent

Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Shehi, Director-General of Ministry of Economy (SUPPLIED)

By Staff Writer

The UAE's economy grew by a galloping 14 per cent in 2008 and is projected to maintain positive growth this year despite a decline in oil prices, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Trade said in Moscow yesterday.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi said the country is also committed to an open market policy and urged Russian investors to take advantage of massive business opportunities arising from the economic diversification plans.

According to a ministry statement sent to Emirates Business yesterday, in her talks with Russian private sector representatives in Moscow, Sheikha Lubna said the UAE's leaders want to see stronger economic and investment links with Russia.

"The UAE's GDP grew by 13.9 per cent to reach Dh801 billion in 2008, and is expected to rise sufficiently this year to support development goals. The federal budget for 2009 rose by 24 per cent over last year," she said.

"We were keen to establish an open market, promote economic diversification and free zones, and 100 per cent foreign ownership. In addition, we have adopted pro-business policies and eliminated obstacles to trade, all of which have transformed the country into an international trade hub."

She said the figures showed non-oil sectors contributing Dh457bn to the 2008 GDP, an increase of 8.4 per cent over 2007.

"The real estate sector, in particular, has been performing remarkably, influencing nearly 30 per cent of national income over the past few years, and it will remain a major source of business," she said.

Sheikh Lubna also reviewed the advantages of the UAE economy during her talks with the Russians, referring to the national policy of diversifying sources of income as instrumental in revealing several investment opportunities. She also said the UAE places great importance on the renewable energy sector.