STOCK Dubai Skyline
The value of total FDI capital flows into all sectors in Dubai exceeded Dh26 billion from 618 announced FDI projects in 2021. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai retained its top rank worldwide for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into tourism in 2021. With Dh6.4 billion in FDI across 30 projects during the year, Dubai ranked number one in FDI capital, projects, and job creation in the tourism sector in 2021, according to The Financial Times’ fDi Markets data, a leading global data source on crossborder greenfield FDI investments.

The year also marked a successful five-year period during which Dubai stayed ahead of leading international cities, including London, Paris and Shanghai, in attracting FDI into tourism. Dubai’s tourism sector attracted Dh83.5 billion in FDI capital across 205 FDI projects during 2017-21, generating 30,082 new jobs.

The city rankings of ‘fDi Markets’ are based on investment destinations that attract 10 or more greenfield FDI projects in a year. The new investments and projects in 2021 generated 5,545 new jobs during the year, according to the Dubai FDI Monitor report published by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI).

The remarkable FDI performance capped a momentous year for Dubai. In 2021, the city led a resurgence in global travel and tourism after COVID-19, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the UAE, and welcomed the world to Expo 2020 Dubai while emerging as one of the safest destinations in the world.

The value of total FDI capital flows into all sectors in Dubai exceeded Dh26 billion from 618 announced FDI projects in 2021, with a growth rate of 5.5 per cent compared to 2020.

Tourism boost

The emirate welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors in 2021, representing a 32 per cent year-over-year growth and underscoring the city’s efforts to become the world’s most visited destination.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai said the emirate’s rank as the top FDI destination for tourism reaffirms the sector’s role as a key economic driver that offers international investors confidence and an exceptional opportunity for stable and sustainable returns.

He noted that Dubai’s enabling infrastructure, business-friendly policies, and flexible regulatory environment that kept pace with the needs of global investors would keep it at the forefront of the world’s FDI destinations.

“While consolidating its advantages as a well-connected hub with world-class infrastructure, attractions and lifestyle, Dubai also launched concerted efforts in key source markets to showcase its capabilities in enabling business growth and as a leading global tourism centre. Dubai’s top rank reflects the effectiveness of the multi-geographic campaigns and its diversified offering across sectors,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.

Enabling ecosystem

The year 2021 witnessed the most extensive legislative change in the history of the UAE, with more than 40 laws in all fields updated and reformed to accelerate ease of business and ensure hassle-free entry for investors. A five-year multi-entry visa was introduced for employees of multinational companies in 2021, adding to previously launched initiatives. These included the popular Golden Visa initiative targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents, and the Virtual Working and Retire in Dubai Programmes.

Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO, Dubai FDI, said the sustained flow of international investments into tourism reinforces Dubai’s status as a magnet for global talent. “Dubai’s top ranking in terms of jobs created by FDI into tourism proves that the exemplary investment environment developed by the city will continue to attract, retain, and grow financial as well as human capital.”