Abu Dhabi GDP soars above $200 billion

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Aerial view of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE. Photo – Faisal Saeed Dama

The Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi (SCAD) on Saturday released preliminary figures shedding light on the key developments in Abu Dhabi economy over the last year. These are the first detailed figures confirming that the Emirate’s economy has evidently overcome the repercussions of the global financial crises, posting significant growth all activities and sectors, both oil and non-oil. Growth in the GDP at current prices during 2011 surpassed all the forecasts and estimates made by local and international parties.

According to SCAD’s preliminary data, Abu Dhabi GDP at current prices grew by 29.9% from AED 620 billion ($168.81bn) in 2010 to AED 806 billion ($219.45bn) in 2011, exceeding all earlier forecasts and estimates in this regard. These results demonstrate that the emirate’s economy has bounced to levels above those that dominated prior to the global financial crisis, giving it a huge competitive advantage and boosting its appeal to local and foreign investors.

Abu Dhabi economy overcomes the repercussions of the financial crisis According to SCAD this robust growth presents unequivocal proof that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has fully recovered from the impacts of the global economic crisis, with data indicating record gains of AED 186 billion during the year 2011, which saw the GDP at current prices grow to AED 806.031 billion, up from AED 620.316 billion in 2010.

Supported by its remarkable resilience, huge financial surpluses, strong growth in non-oil sectors and activities, high oil prices, along with several other factors, the economy of the emirate was fast to overcome the consequences of the global financial crisis, regain stability and, interestingly, achieve some benefits from it. For instance, inflation retreated to only 1.9 percent during 2011. In addition, the crisis gave impetus to non-oil activities, which achieved strong growth rate of approximately 7 percent during 2011.

Diversification of the economy

A thorough review of the economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will confirm that it has made vast strides and achieved a high level of development and diversity in a short span of time, making continuous gains under a wise management that learned from past experience in its endeavor to take best advantage of available opportunities. This is reflected in the fast-paced economic progress the Emirate has experienced over the past years, in the course of which major projects were undertaken, translating a practical vision and an insightful outlook on the future. This impressive growth enhanced the attractiveness of the national economy to investors worldwide and established the Emirate as a hub for concluding major business deals.

In recent years Abu Dhabi economy has advanced in leaps and bounds towards the establishment of a solid infrastructure, founded on economic diversity and comprehensive development. It has become the most dynamic economy in the region and the third largest economy in the Arab world. Breaking through from an economy depending almost entirely on public spending, which is directly affected by fluctuating oil revenues, to a diversified economy that has evolved into regional financial, commercial and tourist centre. Despite the importance of oil to the economy of Abu Dhabi, the Emirate pursues an ambitious strategy that seeks to expand and diversify the economy in order to fortify it against volatile oil prices. In this regard, it can be seen from the figures announced by SCAD, that oil accounted for only 58.5% of the GDP of the Abu Dhabi in 2011, despite the considerable rise in oil prices during the same year. This confirms that the Emirate’s plans to expand the economic base and diversify the sources of income are progressing successfully.

On the other hand, the figures released show that non-oil activities/sectors contributed 41.5% of the emirate’s GDP in 2011, achieving a relatively high growth rate of 7 percent during the same year.

A glance at historical trends shows that the relative share of the various non-oil activities and sectors in the GDP at current prices has doubled 3.4 times from AED 9.9 billion in 2001 to AED 33.4 billion in 2011, making such activities a major contributor to the Emirate’s economy.

These developments demonstrate that the Emirate’s programs to expand the economic base and diversify the sources of income are progressing successfully with non-oil sectors emerging as key components of the GDP as depicted in the diagram below.

Non-oil activities 2001-2011

In parallel with this, the private sector has achieved impressive growth and gained numerous competitive advantages in the fields of production and exports, enabling it to play a more effective future role in facing up to the economic uncertainty on the horizon, both regionally and internationally. Particular attention is therefore paid to empowering the private sector in the economic diversification process through continuing to create the right investment climate to strengthen the role of the private sector in the economic development process.

Positive growth in all activities and sectors in 2011

Preliminary data on the GDP of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi over the past year included indicate that all the activities and economic sectors achieved positive growth rates at varying degrees in 2011, most notably the mining and quarrying activity, which grew by 53.2%, fuelled by the sharp rise in oil prices in world markets. The transport, storage and communications also recorded a high growth rate (22.4%), while manufacturing grew by 21.5%, financial corporations and insurance by 13.6%, real estate and business services by 11%, electricity, gas and water and education by 10.5% each. Furthermore, non-oil sectors and activities achieved positive growth rates, ranging from 1 percent for agriculture, livestock and fisheries to 9.6% in health and social services.

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