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Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. Image Credit: Twitter/Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Rapid response measures from the government and decisive adaptive changes in the face of COVID-19 have enabled Dubai to successfully contain the pandemic and maintain its robust economic growth, stated Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

The statements of Dubai Crown Prince came during the launch of the half-yearly report on business movement issued by the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector of Dubai Economy, which showed licensing activity surpassing pre-pandemic levels to record the highest growth rates in the history of Dubai.

Licensing activity surpasses pre-pandemic levels

A total of 31,000 licenses were issued during the first six months of 2021, a growth of 77 per cent compared to the same period in 2020 when 17,478 licenses were issued. The record growth is attributed to the measures taken to ensure business continuity and further simplify government procedures for businesses.

The full ownership option granted to foreign investors to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into vital sectors and raise business competitiveness also contributed to improving investor confidence.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed noted that the international diversity of investors in Dubai validates the leadership’s focus on creating a growth-friendly and transparent investment environment across the UAE, marked by exceptional ease of doing business as well as security and safety.

He said, “The records we have achieved inspire us to continue working as one team to further enhance Dubai’s position as an incubator for entrepreneurs and a hub for global companies by identifying new opportunities for investors to accomplish their ambitions and building innovative development pathways to reinforce Dubai's global leadership in all fields.”

Invest in Dubai platform

According to Dubai Economy, ‘Invest in Dubai,’ the integrated digital platform for establishing a business in Dubai contributed to 25 per cent of new licenses issued during the last five months. Together, the 25 per cent of licenses account for 10,591 investors from 117 different nationalities. A total of 37 per cent of the new investors that came through ‘Invest in Dubai’ belonged to the 26-35 age group while another 35 per cent were aged 36-45.

“Dubai has been able to consolidate its economic fundamentals, progressive vision and ambition into a formidable force capable of withstanding challenges, maintaining a healthy growth rate, and achieving its desired transformation into a digital economy,” said Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy. “The confidence demonstrated by investors and businesses in the growth potential of various sectors in the emirate and digital initiatives like ‘Invest in Dubai’ also underlines the vision of our leadership and the approach adopted by the government to further diversify the economy and integrate modern technologies to achieve customer happiness.”

Recovery in vital activities and sectors

The half-yearly report of Dubai Economy showed a remarkable recovery in many vital activities and sectors during the first half of 2021. The Restaurants & Cafes category saw 1,153 new licenses, a growth of 92 per cent compared to the same period last year. The Tourism sector welcomed 342 licenses that included 20 new hotels (a growth of 147 per cent), in addition to various other activities, such as inbound and outbound trips. The sector is expected to see increased activity, especially with the rise in tourist numbers expected due to Dubai’s continued popularity as a major global destination and its profile as the venue for Expo this year.

Gold sector

The Gold sector also witnessed a remarkable growth of 102 per cent compared to the first half of 2020. A total of 204 new licenses were issued in H1 2021 in this sector, which is currently seeing a global rebound.

Real estate

The real estate sector witnessed the highest growth of 186 per cent with 487 licenses being issued, compared to 170 licenses for the same period last year. Activities in this sector included brokerage of sale and purchase and real estate rentals.

Investment activity in Dubai also gained remarkable traction in H1 2021 with the entry of 246 investment firms, an 80 per cent growth compared to the same period of 2020. The activities included investments in commercial projects as well as their establishment and management, in addition to projects in the industrial, agricultural, health services and energy sectors. The diversity of new investment activities is expected to accelerate economic diversification in Dubai.

The first half of the year also saw 12 new holding companies, bringing the total of such companies in the emirate to 216. This is testament to Dubai’s growing status as a preferred investment destination among large companies.

Transport, shipping and warehousing

Transport, Shipping & Warehousing, a prominent sector linked to internal and external trade, saw 872 new licenses in H1 2021, a 105 per cent growth from the corresponding period in 2020. The activity in this sector, which includes sea freight services and container handling in addition to transporting goods by heavy and light trucks, is expected to achieve high revenues with the growing pace of economic recovery, the growth of imports and exports, and the increase in demand for goods.

The medical and pharmaceutical sector also witnessed a steep rise in the number of licenses issued (196), growing 120 per cent, compared to the first half of 2020. Two new hospitals, as well as clinics, rehabilitation centres, laboratories, and pharmaceutical production units were among the facilities licensed.

The growth in this sector reflects the development of medical tourism in the UAE, the expanding healthcare coverage in Dubai, and the growing reliance on the local industry for medicines and medical supplies.