Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, visits the Annual Investment Meeting at Dubai World Trade in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Technology would be a major catalyst that would drive the economic growth in the UAE, Dr Abdullah Mohammad Bel Haif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development told delegates at the Annual Investment Meeting.

The comments come two weeks after Uber agreed to buy its Middle East rival Careem for $3.1 billion (Dh11.39 billion), in the biggest tech deal that the region ever saw. Earlier in 2017, Amazon bought Middle East online retailer Souq.com. Additionally, to boost the start-up culture in the country, the UAE plans to give long-term visas for 100 Arab start-ups.

The UAE “has been keen to keep abreast of new trends and their applications in various areas of trade. We strongly believe in the importance of joint efforts in narrowing the digital divide, in order to capitalise on the digital economy,” Al Nuaimi said on the first day of the AIM, which was attended by 20,000 delegates from 140 countries.

The UAE continued to rank number one in terms of attracting FDI and had inflows worth $10.4 billion in 2018, according to estimates from the central bank. Economic growth came in at 3.7 per cent for 2018, and the outlook remains ‘optimistic.’ The IMF estimates the world economy will continue to grow in 2019 by 3.5 per cent, and expects the UAE economy to outperform at 3.7 per cent this year.

“The UAE has paid great attention to the development of infrastructure and roads, being aware of its importance in promoting investments. The country has also been able to achieve internationally high rankings on global competitiveness indicators in this domain. These include second place in satisfaction with streets and highways, which constitute one of the best infrastructure in the world,” Al Nuaimi said.

The UAE has been ranked number one in the Arab world in the World Bank’s ease of doing business. The country was fast closing in to become one among the top 10 in the Ease of Doing Business ranking of 190 countries by the World Bank.

“Furthermore, the UAE can accomplish some achievements through successful partnerships between private and public sectors in the area of infra projects, reflecting the importance of joint endeavours by both sectors and attracting more investors,” he added.

Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria highlighted the importance of inclusive growth in the digital world.

Phone penetration is about 88 per cent for its population of 175 million Nigerians, of which 65 per cent are under the age of 25. Young entrepreneurs in Nigeria have attracted investments of over $100 million, including from Silicon Valley. “As leaders, it is therefore our responsibility to create an enabling environment for these minds to flourish and reach their full potential. When we came in 2014, we agreed that any economic growth must be inclusive. As Nigeria’s population is fully digitalised, the idea of having an inclusive economy cannot be achieved without digital inclusivity,” Buhari said,

Event inauguration

The AIM was opened by Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. The delegates included four presidents, one deputy president and 40 ministers from Bolivia, Nigeria and Russia. AIM’s theme this year is ‘Mapping the Future of FDI: Enriching World Economies through Digital Globalisation.’