A continued emphasis on research and development across a wide range of established and emerging sectors support diversity and growth of Dubai’s economy.
A diverse economy
Dubai’s pro-business outlook and support of businesses from a wide range of sectors has resulted in a thriving, vibrant economy.
The Middle Eastern hub for ICT
Dubai is a pioneer in smart services with a stated goal to create a data-driven economy estimated to generate an additional US$2.83 billion in GDP by 2021, on the path to becoming the world’s first city to be powered by blockchain technology.
The city is the Middle East’s hub for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and the regional base for the world’s most renowned international tech brands, software and hardware suppliers, telecoms vendors and digital media’s global giants including Microsoft, Oracle, EMC/Dell, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Dubai ranks first globally in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. It also has the highest level of FDI specialization in electronic components, ICT and electronics, as well as in architectural, engineering and related services.
An annual report by PWC Middle East positions AI as a game changer in business, contributing US$15.7 trillion to the world economy and US$9.6 billion to the UAE economy by 2030.
Automotive and aerospace
As an aviation hub and one of the world’s largest re-exporters of vehicles, Dubai plays a leading role in both industries. Around 258 million passengers are forecast to pass through airports in the Middle East by 2035 and Dubai’s central role in the aerospace industry can be seen through the US$113.8 billion of on-site aircraft sales during the 15th Dubai Airshow.
In terms of the automotive industry, Dubai is the world’s driving force behind autonomous vehicles, with the government aiming for 25% of all automotive journeys to be autonomous by 2030.
Construction and real estate
According to MEED Projects, buildings currently in the planning or delivery stages in the GCC are valued at US$2.7 trillion with the UAE’s market valued at US$805 billion. In Dubai, 163,000 homes are forecast to be delivered by 2021 and Dubai is the only city in the Middle East to be committed to the UN’s Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) initiative.
Indicative of Dubai’s embracing of new technologies, the government is aiming to ensure that 25% of all buildings in Dubai are 3D printed as per its 3D Printing Strategy. The 3D printing industry itself is expected to be valued at US$1 billion by the middle of the 2030s.
Agriculture and Food
The global agriculture industry is valued at US$5 trillion and the market continues to grow. Dubai’s status as a leading infrastructural, re-export and trading hub and its key strategic location means that the emirate can capitalize on this fast growing market.
Dubai is also a leading halal food trading center and this market, along with the Islamic lifestyle market, is vast, with the UAE’s halal food industry alone valued at US$18.8 billion. Within the emirate itself there are significant numbers of greenhouses, vertical and organic farms. The government has invested US$1.5 billion in an F&B logistics park to ensure the emirate’s food security and 75% of the city’s food waste will be recycled by 2021.
Healthcare and pharmaceuticals
Due to its world-class infrastructure and excellent healthcare services, Dubai has become the hub for medical tourism in the Middle East. Among many best-in-class hospitals and clinics, Dubai is also home to the world's largest medical free zone, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC).
The development boasts 160 clinical partners including hospitals, out-patient medical centers and diagnostic laboratories across over 150 specialties with licensed professionals from almost 90 countries. Chief among them are the Johns Hopkins-associated hospital Clemenceau Medical Centre and Moorfield's London. With an average spend of US$1,200, Dubai ranks in the world’s top 20 for healthcare spending per capita.
Logistics and trade
Dubai's strategic location makes it a natural business gateway between east and west. With its vast trade ties, Dubai is a focal point for global distribution, and its low logistics costs and superb infrastructure have led to strong foreign investment.
According to the World Economic Forum, the UAE leads the MENA region in enabling trade, ranking 23rd globally. By the end of 2019 the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange had made approximately US$400 billion of trades. In the first half of 2019, FDI inflows to Dubai reached approximately US$12.6 billion. Dubai’s re-export industry surged by 48% in 2019 to reach 13 million tons.
MEASA Financial service growth
The MEASA region is already poised to shape financial innovation. With huge latent population potential, deepening mobile connectivity, and growing prominence as a trade and investment hub, MEASA will be a source of both demand and supply for more and better financial services.
For companies that move quickly, this is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity to bank on the future of a diverse region. With close to 70% of its population having either limited or no access to financial services, the region sits on a large pool of opportunities that are constantly fueled by the increasing need for financial solutions.
Additionally, the fintech market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to reach U$2.5 billion by 2022. Fintech investment in the MENA region outpaced the global average at 66% between the 2014-2019 period.
Dubai’s soaring economic success across a wide range of sectors means that entrepreneurs and business leaders can use the emirate as a base of operations in full confidence. The emirate’s future-forward approach to business and governance, and the government’s determination to further diversify the economy, mean that the opportunities are almost limitless.
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