Stock Dubai skyline
Greenfield FDI into Dubai amounted to 53 per cent of the total FDI projects recorded in 2021. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai ranked first in the world in attracting greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021, with a record number of 418 greenfield projects, data showed on Sunday. The emirate stood third last year.

“Dubai has created a stable, sustainable economic environment and a vibrant business ecosystem for companies and entrepreneurs to launch new ventures, tap new opportunities and expand their business both in the country and beyond its borders. Over the years, Dubai has also demonstrated its resilience to global economic fluctuations, earning the confidence of global investors, and enhancing its reputation as one of the world’s leading lifestyle and business destinations,” said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council.

Unveiling the annual ‘DUBAI FDI Results & Rankings Highlights Report 2021,’ published by Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), Sheikh Hamdan said “Dubai’s government departments, free zones, and private sector partners combined their strengths to create a fertile ground for talent, enterprise, and investment in the emirate”.

The report was based on data from the Financial Times Ltd’s ‘fDi Markets’, a leading source of data on greenfield FDI projects.

Dubai ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and third globally, up from fourth place last year, in FDI capital inflows, data showed. In reinvestment FDI projects, Dubai ranked first in the MENA region and third globally (up from fourth place last year), and seventh globally, up from 11th place last year, in FDI capital inflows. As for FDI job creation, Dubai ranked first in the MENA region and fifth globally, up from the sixth place last year.

The report revealed significant growth in all key FDI indicators compared to the previous year, where the estimated value of FDI capital flows into Dubai exceeded Dh26 billion from a total of 618 announced FDI projects in 2021, with a growth rate of 5.5 per cent compared to 2020. Both FDI projects and FDI job creation witnessed a significant increase of 36 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020, with an estimated 24,868 jobs in 2021, compared to 18,325 jobs in the previous year.

“Dubai’s remarkable performance in FDI attraction in 2021 reflects the confidence of investors, multinational companies, start-ups and global talents in the investment and business environment in Dubai, notably the emirate’s success in overcoming the impact of the recent global health and economic challenges, while promoting economic growth and creating new opportunities in the future economy. The remarkable success of Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest event in the history of the World Expo, which saw the participation of 192 countries and more than 24 million visitors, and its enduring impact on facilitating varied trade and business partnerships, which are major drivers of economic recovery and growth globally, is a testament to our leadership’s commitment to make Dubai the preferred global destination to work, live, visit and invest,” said Helal Al Marri, Director General of the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai.

Dubai attracted 43 headquarters (HQ) FDI projects in 2021, leading regionally in this category and ranking second globally behind Singapore, surpassing major cities such as London and New York, in hosting global and regional headquarters of international companies. Dubai also ranked third globally in terms of HQ FDI capital flows, which amounted to Dh2.8 billion.

Tech, innovation projects on the rise

Greenfield FDI into Dubai amounted to 53 per cent of the total FDI projects recorded in 2021. New Forms of Investments (NFIs) followed, accounting for 19 per cent of the projects, followed by VC-backed FDI projects with 12 per cent, reinvestment FDI projects with eight per cent, mergers and acquisitions projects with six per cent and joint ventures with two per cent. The high and medium technology FDI projects witnessed a significant growth, reaching 67 per cent of the total FDI projects recorded in 2021, compared to 56 per cent in 2020, further highlighting Dubai’s leading position as a preferred destination for high-tech FDI projects and a global centre for specialised talent in the digital economy.

UK is top FDI source country

The UK was the leading source country with a 27 per cent share of the total FDI capital inflows in Dubai in 2021, followed by the US at 18 per cent, France at 13 per cent, Germany at 11 per cent and India at 6 per cent. As for FDI projects in 2021, the US maintained its lead among top FDI source countries with 19 per cent share of the total FDI projects, followed by the UK with 18 per cent, India 13 per cent, France six per cent and Germany 5 per cent.