The Abu Dhabi Corniche. Abu Dhabi is ranked 67th overall in Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living survey. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archive

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) will touch $395 billion (Dh1.45 trillion) this year, before growing further to $410 billion next year, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said in his keynote address on Tuesday at the 6th Annual Arabian World Construction Summit in the capital.

Al Mansouri said the country’s GDP has grown more than 200 times since 1971 — from $1.77 billion to $360 billion in 2012.

“Today, the UAE is a major contributor to the growth of the Middle East region. An IIF [Institute for International Finance] report shows that the UAE economy accounted for more than a quarter of the GCC’s GDP of $1.482 trillion in 2012,” the economy minister said.

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that the UAE construction industry is on the growth path once again after recovering from the slowdown experienced during the global financial crisis. We are extremely optimistic that this vital sector will show sustainable growth in the coming years.”

Quoting a Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry study, Al Mansouri said the contribution of the construction sector as a percentage of GDP topped 10.3 per cent in 2011 and is projected to reach 11.1 per cent in 2015 and 11.5 per cent by 2021.

Al Mansouri said huge spending on public projects in Abu Dhabi and the constant growth in the services sector in Dubai will enhance economic growth, especially amid the recovery being experienced in the construction and real estate sectors.

The UAE’s policy of economic diversification, focused on high-tech industry, logistics, ports, tourism, financial services, health, education and media, has created immense opportunities for the construction industry, he added.

“There are major possibilities before us as we increasingly focus on private sector-led economic expansion,” Al Mansouri said, adding that the UAE’s ability to attract large overseas investments, notably in the construction industry, has also raised the country’s status as a source of funding for the global economy.

He said major projects such as the Mohammad Bin Rashid City in Dubai and major infrastructure projects in Abu Dhabi will create a new momentum in the nation’s construction sector and take it through a phenomenal phase of growth in the coming years.

“We are also hopeful about winning the bid to host World Expo 2020 which, I am sure, will be a game-changer for the construction industry,” Al Mansouri added.