A perfume factory in Al Quoz. Half of survey respondents expect the business situation to improve in the second quarter of 2018 compared to 41 per cent in the previous quarter. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Economic conditions in Dubai during the first quarter of 2018 have improved over the first quarter and the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a business confidence survey conducted by the Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai.

The survey indicates that the Composite Business Confidence Index has improved by 5.5 points after registering 116.7 points in Q1 2018 as compared to 111.2 points during the same quarter of 2017.

Furthermore, the outlook for the second quarter of 2018 appears to be even more promising as businesses are anticipating better outcomes on revenues, sales volumes, profits and new orders.

The statement attributed the growth to brighter global economic prospects, coupled with strengthening oil prices and improvement in global trade and estimated that these developments are contributing to an expected pickup in growth from 2.8 per cent in 2017 in real terms to an anticipated 3.5 per cent in 2018.

Looking ahead, the continued drive to meet Expo 2020 infrastructure needs, the easing of the fiscal adjustment in the Emirate, and the recent announcements by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, of a freeze in government fees for the next three years, and new measures to boost investment and cut cost of doing business are all adding to the upbeat business sentiments.

Sales volumes

Emirate-wide, the outlooks across all the indicators have improved. For example, sentiments on sales revenues have increased from 26 per cent for the first quarter of 2018 to 37 per cent in the second quarter of 2018, and 35 per cent of respondents expect higher sales volumes, up from 22 per cent for the first quarter of 2018.

“The trade sector appears to be the most confident about their business prospects in terms of revenues, selling prices, profits and new purchase orders.

At the sector level, the trade sector appears to be the most confident about their business prospects in terms of revenues, selling prices, profits and new purchase orders. The services sector is the most optimistic about its hiring expectations. Within the trading sector, auto traders are optimistic of higher volumes during the second quarter of 2018 with a net balance of 75 per cent based on higher demand. Exporters are more upbeat than domestic market-oriented firms across all the parameters in the Survey.

Half of the survey respondents expect the business situation to improve in the second quarter of 2018 compared to 41 per cent in the previous quarter. While 40 per cent of the respondents expect more stable conditions, the survey also indicates that 49 per cent of the respondents do not expect any negative factors to impact their business operations. Competition remains the topmost challenge for firms operating in Dubai, as cited by 19 per cent of the respondents.

Upgrade technology

Plans to expand capacity and upgrade technology have also improved. Over the quarter, respondents were upbeat about their capacity expansion plans with 71 per cent planning to do so in the first quarter of 2018 versus 69 per cent in Q4 2017 and 61 per cent in the first quarter of 2017. A total of 68 per cent of the respondents are gearing up to upgrade technology in the first quarter of 2018 versus 69 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 65 per cent in the first quarter of 2017. 
DED conducts the quarterly survey to capture the outlook of companies in the emirate so that government authorities and the private sector can track and analyse major business trends and issues. The survey for the first quarter of 2018 was conducted taking a sample of 502 companies across Dubai and they were asked to indicate if they anticipated an “increase”, “decrease” or “no change” on key outlook indicators, including sales revenues, selling prices, volumes sold, profits and number of employees.