The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged as key trading hubs within the Middle East region, defying the global economic downturn and posting strong trade growth in the first half of 2008.
In Dubai, the value of exports and re-exports rose to $28 billion [USD] — a 50 percent leap compared to the $18.5 billion recorded in the same period last year, according to Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) figures.
The DCCI said exports in the period grew 36 percent to $9 billion compared to the first half of 2007 and noted that the United Kingdom remains one of the main exporters to Dubai. According to latest figures quoted by U.A.E. daily Gulf News, U.K. exports to the emirate total around $5.5 billion, based on figures for year end-2007. This represents a double-digit percentage rise on the previous year; 2008 is likely to be another strong year, the newspaper added.
The emirate’s total international trade leapt 30 percent in the year ending December 31, 2007, rising to $168 billion from $129.1 billion, with India and China dominating the market with a combined share of 23 percent of Dubai's total trade over the year. Other significant trade partners included the U.S., Japan, Iran, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, who between them represented a combined share of 31 percent of Dubai’s total international trade.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E, saw its external trade in July jump almost 37 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
The overall trade volume was $2.3 billion in July this year against $1.7 billion for July 2007, reported the Khaleej Times, which quoted official statistics.
Abu Dhabi’s non-oil exports reached $157 million in July 2008 compared to $157.5 million in the same period in 2007, while according to the new figures, imports during July 2008 reached $2 billion compared to $1.4 billion in the same period in 2007, an increase of 46 percent. Saudi Arabia, Japan and Germany were the top three exporters to Abu Dhabi, while the statistics revealed that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China were the top three destinations for Abu Dhabi's non-oil exports.
On Aug. 10, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department released the “Strategic Plan 2008 to 2013,” its first five-year strategic plan. The stated goals include: access to justice; a fair and accomplished judicial system that provides effective and innovative judicial services; public trust and confidence; highly qualified workforce and motivating work environment; and transparency and accountability.
Meanwhile, under the Dubai Government’s “Strategic Plan 2015,” announced in February 2007, the emirate aims to increase its annual gross domestic product to $108 billion, which requires annual growth of 11.2 percent.
“In the year 2000 the plan was to increase GNP to $30 billion by 2010. In 2005 that figure was exceeded, with GNP reaching $37 billion” Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, said at the time. “The plan also included an increase in income per capita to $23,000 by the year 2010. In 2005 the average income per capita reached $31,000. In other words, we realized, in five years, economic achievements beyond those which were planned for a 10-year period.”
Under the new plan, the emirate aims to raise income per capita to $44,000 by the year 2015.