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Gulf GDP to grow 2.5% in 2009

The GCC's financial resources, high public spending and investment climate may partly offset a steep decline in the hydrocarbon sector. (SUPPLIED)

By Nadim Kawach

The economies of the Gulf oil producers are expected to contract in nominal terms in 2009 because of lower crude prices but real gross domestic product is projected to record positive growth, according to an international analyst.

In real terms, the combined GDP of the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) will grow by about 2.5 per cent this year, nearly half the real growth achieved in 2008, said George Abed, Senior Advisor to the Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

In an interview with Emirates Business, Abed said the GCC's massive financial resources, high public spending and better investment climate would partly offset a steep decline in the hydrocarbon sector in 2009.

"Hydrocarbon real GDP for the region as a whole is expected to contract by about three per cent in 2009 as compared to a growth of 4.2 per cent in 2008," he said.

Abed's figures showed the overall GDP growth is projected at about 1.2 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 2.3 per cent in the UAE, 1.2 per cent in Kuwait, nine per cent in Qatar, and nearly five per cent in Oman and Bahrain. He said the non-oil real GDP would slow down in 2009 but is projected to remain relatively solid at about four per cent compared to six per cent in 2008.

He estimated non-hydrocarbon real growth at about 3.6 per cent in Kuwait, four per cent in Saudi Arabia, 4.2 per cent in the UAE, and about five per cent in Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. In 2008, nominal GDP jumped by nearly 30 per cent to smash through the $1-trillion mark for the first time mainly because of higher crude output, a sharp rise in oil prices and increased investments, Abed said.