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Dubai economy shows signs of revitalization

Dubai's economy grew by 2.3 per cent in the first six months of 2010 as trade, manufacturing and tourism improved.

Reuters, Friday 26 Nov 2010
Dubai growth
Dubai's economy grew 2.3 percent in the first six months of 2010
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Dubai's economy grew by 2.3 per cent in the first six months of 2010 as trade, manufacturing and tourism improved, the Dubai Statistics Center announced, confirming previous remarks made by its chief.

The recent global economic crisis ended an oil- and real estate-led boom in the United Arab Emirates last year, sending the world's No. 3 oil exporter into its first downturn since 1993. In 2010, Dubai's debt woes have weighed on its economic recovery.

"The sectors of manufacturing, transport, logistics, services, wholesale and retail trade, hotels, restaurants and government services achieved positive growth," Arif Obaid al-Muhairi was quoted as saying on the website of the daily Emirates 24-7.

He did not say whether the gross domestic product increase was in real or nominal terms.

This year, the property sector contributed only 11 per cent to the Gulf emirate's economy in the first six months, Muhairi said, down from 14 per cent in 2009, and 17 per cent in 2008.

Dubai's non-oil exports and re-exports soared, increasing by 46 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, in the second quarter, while imports jumped by 17 per cent, data shows.

Last month, Muhairi predicted Dubai's GDP growth would be 2.3 per cent for 2010 - well above the International Monetary Fund’s forecast of 0.5. In February, when uncertainties around the indebted state-owned firm Dubai World weighed on the market, the IMF predicted Dubai's GDP would contract by 1.3 per cent in 2010.

In 2008, the emirate’s economy, which accounts for some 80 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil trade, expanded by 5.7 per cent in real terms. Official 2009 GDP data for Dubai is not available, but the IMF estimates the emirate experienced an 0.9 per cent contraction.

Concerns about Dubai's liabilities, estimated at around $115 billion, eased after Dubai World reached a deal in September to restructure almost $25 billion of its debt. But worries persist with regards to debts owed by other key firms such as Dubai Holding. Dubai and its firms face some $30 billion worth of debt, set to mature in 2011-2012.

Overall UAE credit growth remains anaemic due to bank exposure to Dubai debt, and is the main reason why the OPEC member's economy trails its oil-exporting peers in the Gulf.

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