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FDI surge in Dubai driven by high-tech and innovative businesses

Dubai attracted 41% more foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2018 than in 2017 and emerged as the leading city globally in the ‘Top FDI Performers 2018′, survey published by the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence magazine. fDi Intelligence said that Dubai dominated its rankings throughout 2018 with the most appearances in the league tables, followed by London, Paris, Dublin and Singapore.

According to the annual Dubai FDI Results & Rankings Report compiled by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), FDI capital flows into Dubai reached AED38.5 billion (USD10.48 billion) in 2018, a 41% increase on 2017, propelling the emirate to the top of the rankings among FDI destinations in the Middle East and North Africa region and improving its global country ranking from tenth place to sixth.

Dubai attracted 523 FDI projects in 2018, an increase of 43% over 2017, elevating the emirate’s global ranking in the number of new investment projects to third from fourth.
The Report added a new index for 2018 that monitors the contribution of FDI to job creation. It found that about 25,000 new jobs were created in 2018, an increase of 77% over 2017, effectively placing Dubai in ninth position globally in job creation through FDI.

“Recent policies which support the role of investors, innovators, skilled professionals and students in building an innovation and knowledge-based economy for Dubai and the UAE further adds to Dubai’s attractiveness for the world’s most promising talent destination,” said Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai.
Data showed medium and high-tech FDI projects being a major tool in job creation, accounting for 28% of the jobs added in 2018. Medium and high-tech FDI projects comprise 43% of the total FDI projects in 2018 and accounted for 15.6% of total capital inflows.

“Data analysis provided by Dubai FDI Monitor reveals the trends that are shaping future growth, while clearly indicating Dubai’s success in attracting a large number of small and medium-sized investments with high levels of technology and innovation capacity,” said Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI).

More than 58% of the investments in the emirate went into medium and high-tech areas, earning Dubai the top rank globally in 2018 in the share of FDI in technology transfer like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

FDI plays a central role in the transfer of knowledge and technology as well as in attracting global talent, which are the pillars supporting the emirate in achieving its goals set in the Dubai Plan 2021 and the 50-Year Charter aimed at strengthening Dubai’s position as a pivotal hub in the global economy.

In terms of FDI source markets, the Report showed that the US retained its leading position in FDI capital flows to Dubai with a 37% share while India came second with 12%, followed by Spain on 9%, China on 7% and the UK on 5%. Together, all the five countries accounted for 70% of total FDI capital inflows and 51% of FDI projects into Dubai in 2018.

The new investment law that will allow 100% foreign ownership and the new 10-year visas for international investors, innovators, skilled professionals and exceptional students are expected to further boost FDI inflows by as much as 15% per year, especially in high tech activities.

DED and its agency Dubai FDI will continue their efforts in attracting and facilitating technology-intensive FDI into Dubai through strategic alliances and partnerships with the world’s leading firms and investment promotion agencies, business councils and entrepreneurs.

Sovereign Middle East is currently supporting several mobile application and technology-driven businesses with their incorporation services and reports more in the pipeline. For more information, contact Paul Arnold.

Paul Arnold


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