Dubai’s statistics office said on Tuesday the emirate’s economy grew 3.4% in real terms in 2011, thanks to strong trade flows and rising tourist numbers.
The Middle East’s leading economic hub also saw its foreign trade jump by a record 22% in 2011, with a total of AED1.1trn ($299bn) representing an increase of 22% compared to the AED902bn achieved in 2010.
The number of passengers at Dubai International in 2011 surged 14% to 18.8 million in January-April from the same period a year ago. The emirate’s top economy ministry official said cargo volumes have been rising in low single digits and the emirate, which makes up nearly a third of the UAE’s GDP, is aiming for economic growth of 4.5 per cent this year.
However, the economy is facing challenges from a weak housing market, sluggish bank lending and US-led sanctions against Iran that are having a moderate impact on the emirate’s economy this year.
Dubai’s gross domestic product rose to an estimated AED306.2 billion ($83.4bn) last year, up from a revised AED296.1bn in 2010, the head of the statistics office said in a statement. The growth rate was in line with expectations.
Reuters quoted a statistics centre official as saying on Tuesday that a comparable growth rate for 2010 was not yet available as the office has been revising data from the previous years. It plans to release revised figures in coming weeks.
The office had originally reported a growth rate of 2.8% in 2010 with GDP in constant prices at AED293.6bn.
Arif Obaid al-Muhairi, Executive Director at Dubai Statistics centre said in the statement posted on the statistics office’s website that wholesale, retail trade and repair services, which account for around a third of Dubai’s GDP, provided the biggest growth impetus to the economy last year, rising by 5.8%.
Reuters report added that the UAE is yet to release its 2011 GDP data. The International Monetary Fund estimated in April the UAE’s 2011 GDP expansion at 4.9%.
With the exception of Dubai, the regional trade and business hub, Gulf trade links with Iran are minor. Apart from trade, Iran has also been a significant source of demand for real estate, tourism and financial services in the UAE.