Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum | President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman & CEO of Emirates airline and Group and Chairman of the Economic Development Committee in Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy: EDC

Dubai: Dubai’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2017, said Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group and Chairman of the Economic Development Committee in Dubai, on Tuesday.

The emirate’s GDP grew by 2.7 per cent in real terms in 2016 despite declining oil prices, sluggish growth in developed as well as many emerging economies and a mere 1.7 per cent growth in global trade.

Delivering his keynote at the ‘UAE Economic Outlook 2017’ hosted jointly by the Dubai Department of Economic Development and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Shaikh Ahmad said sustainability and flexibility are the most notable characteristics of Dubai’s ongoing economic and social transformation.

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has projected an average GDP growth of 3.4 per cent in Abu Dhabi during 2016-2020. Combined growth of all emirates, the UAE is projected grow in excess of 3.5 per cent between 2017 and 2020.

Going forward, the UAE is expected to focus on economic diversification and non-oil sectors to drive the GDP growth. “More than three decades ago, our leadership put diversification on the top of the development pyramid in Dubai and the growth vision and strategies adopted since then have all focused on accelerated and sustainable growth. It has led to faster integration of the emirate’s economy into the global economy and quantitative as well as qualitative growth away from oil,” Shaikh Ahmad said.

Real economic growth has averaged five per cent a year over the past five years, while the importance of non-oil economic activities has grown steadily. “Our efforts at economic diversification continue unabated with a target of increasing the contribution of the non-oil sectors to UAE GDP from 70 per cent today to 80 per cent during the next 15 years,” he said.

During the past year, the UAE continued the course of diversification and progress and achieved new milestones. This includes a jump of 8 points in the World Bank Doing Business report, from the 34th to now the 26th easiest country in the world for doing business, and ahead of any other Arab country. The World Bank also recognised the UAE as one of the top 10 most improved business environments over the past year.

The UAE also topped the list of countries in the Middle East and North Africa region Global Entrepreneurship Index Report 2016, and ranked 19th in the world ahead of countries such as Norway, South Korea, Turkey and Japan. According to the World Competitiveness Report 2016-17, the UAE is second only to Singapore in the Air Transport Infrastructure Quality index that measures the general level of infrastructure in airports and their compliance with international standards.

Reaffirming Dubai’s commitment to pursue its decades’ old policy of openness, Shaikh Ahmad said that the emirate will continue to embrace the world economy through welcoming trade, investment, people and ideas.

While striving for faster economic growth, the UAE will remain committed to sustainable growth. Environmental sustainability is a guiding principle of the UAE 2021 National Agenda.

“We are working to ensure sustainable development while preserving the environment, and to achieve a perfect balance between economic and social development through improving the quality of air, preserving water resources, increasing the contribution of clean energy, and implementing green growth plans. We continue to work closely with the private sector to boost productivity growth and improve the quality of public services. This is the strategic goal that inspired Dubai’s Public-Private Partnership Law where we seek a continuous model for exchange of knowledge and experience between the two sectors,” Shaikh Ahmad said.