What does Dubai need to do to double its economy within the next decade?

Abbas Sajwani

We live in exciting times and enjoy a strong, growing economy. We’ve weathered the economic woes of the pandemic, and all indicators suggest moderate economic growth this year, compared to many nations which are teetering on recession and seeing economic decline.


But one thing we certainly never do in the UAE is rest. There is always much to be done. I’m keen to understand what we will see in the Dubai economy over the next decade and how we might maintain growth.


After speaking with my team, advisors and doing my own research, I believe there are a few key elements which could help us achieve a doubling of the economy by 2033.


Firstly, we must keep diversifying the economy: Dubai should focus on diversifying its economy beyond sectors such as oil and gas and tourism. Encouraging industries like technology, renewable energy, finance, healthcare, and creative sectors can bring new opportunities and reduce reliance on specific sectors.


The UAE government has a wide range of strategies, policies and support frameworks in place to encourage businesses to develop across various sectors, but there’s a strong emphasis on technology.


Encourage foreign direct investment: Dubai attracts the most FDI in the Middle East. I hope this situation continues by ensuring we continue offering incentives such as favourable tax policies underpinned by our stable business environment. Simplifying investment procedures and providing investor-friendly regulations help encourage FDI inflows and support economic growth.


Media reports suggest total FDI capital surged by some 80.3 per cent in 2022, consolidating the emirate’s status among the top three global city economies, a key goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33).


Strengthen digital transformation: Dubai is accelerating its digital transformation across several industries. Embracing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things certainly drives innovation, improves productivity and creates new business opportunities.


The UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025 aims to embed digital aspects into government strategies, “crucial to ensure the government is digital by design and that all capacities, structures and opportunities are integrated on a national level and aligned with the UAE’s strategic digital government vision.” The strategy lays out plans to provide world-class digital infrastructure and enable integrated, easy and fast digital services for all. There are also plans under the strategy to increase the level of digital capabilities and skills.


Innovation and entrepreneurship: Dubai’s rich landscape of incubators, accelerators, and investment funds exists mostly to support startups. Offering incentives, grants, and easier regulations for startups attracts investors, entrepreneurs, and talent and encourages new businesses and innovation.


Entrepreneurship is embedded in Arabic culture, and here in Dubai, we have created an environment that is as attractive as possible to anyone looking to set up a business.


There’s an almost mind-boggling array of help – including incubators for FinTechs, women-owned businesses, Emirati-owned businesses, crypto and blockchain, aerospace and even humanitarian organisations.


Partnerships: Dubai is working to foster stronger partnerships with neighbouring countries and global economies. This involves increasing trade agreements, promoting investment opportunities, and expanding diplomatic relationships. By positioning itself as a hub for international trade and investment, Dubai can attract more businesses and contribute to its economic growth.


It’s interesting to note that Dubai International Chamber is on a mission to open 50 representative offices across the world by 2030, each of which will promote bilateral trade with Dubai.


A skilled workforce: Emphasising education and skill development is vital. Dubai’s education and vocational training programmes should align with emerging industries. Collaboration between education and the private sector helps bridge the skills gap and provide businesses with a talented workforce.


And yes, there’s a strategy – the UAE strategy for talent attraction and retention aims to position the UAE among the top ten countries in global talent competitiveness indices, ensure talent availability across all strategic sectors and cement the UAE’s image as an ideal destination for living and working.


Embrace sustainable practices: Dubai is prioritising sustainability in its economic growth plans, especially as this is the UAE Year of Sustainability, and we are hosting the COP28 climate talks in October. Implementing sustainable practices across various sectors, such as renewable energy, green construction, waste management, and water conservation, reduces environmental impact and attracts environmentally conscious businesses and investors.


To conclude, there are so many things that can be done to encourage economic growth. It’s exciting to see every aspect of economic growth I considered is currently underway or being promoted in Dubai. The future looks bright.


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