Dubai expects stronger growth in 2017 as economy diversifies

Growth in Dubai will accelerate this year even as oil prices remain low and slower trade puts pressure on the emirate, senior government officials said. The economy is expected to expand 3.1 per cent, following growth of 2.7 per cent in real terms in 2016, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the emirate’s Economic Development Committee, said in Dubai on Tuesday. This year will be “challenging” but “diversification and opening new markets” including Islamic finance and developing the renewable energy industry will aid the economy, Sami Al Qamzi, director general of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, said separately. Growth in the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, has been slowing since oil prices plummeted to below $30 a barrel. Authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai delayed projects and cut spending amid the slump. With crude recovering to about $55 a barrel this year, Dubai plans to increase spending and create jobs, according to its 2017 budget announced in December. Last year’s growth was “despite continued lower oil prices, slower growth in developed and many emerging economies and slow growth in world trade,” Sheikh Ahmed said. The emirate plans to provide updates on its economic outlook twice a year in January and October, he said. Dubai set up an economic team spanning all the emirate’s 13 government departments in December, said Raed Safadi, chief economic adviser to the development department. The team will provide an “early warning system” to detect and respond to trouble in any sector of the economy, he said. (Zainab Fattah and Stefania Bianchi/Bloomberg)

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