Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s Federal Supreme Council. The city of Dubai is located on the emirate’s northern coastline and heads the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area.
Dubai emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East.It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. By the 1960s, Dubai’s economy was based on revenues from trade and, to a smaller extent, oil exploration concessions, but oil was not discovered until 1966. Oil revenue first started to flow in 1969.Dubai’s oil revenue helped accelerate the early development of the city, but its reserves are limited and production levels are low: today, less than 5% of the emirate’s revenue comes from oil.
The Emirate’s Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Dubai was recently named the best destination for Muslim travellers by Salam Standard.Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The city has become iconic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai is located on the Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, in the south west corner of the Arabian Gulf. It is extremely well known for its warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage, and the Emirati people are welcoming and generous in their approach to visitors. With year-round sunshine, intriguing deserts, beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels and shopping malls, fascinating heritage attractions and a thriving business community, Dubai receives millions of leisure and business visitors each year from around the world.
The local currency is the dirham, which is pegged at AED 3.67 to 1 US dollar. Dubai is tolerant and cosmopolitan and all visitors are welcome. However, Islam is a way of life in the city, and therefore tourists should adopt a certain level of cultural and religious sensitivity for the duration of their stay.
Dubai Rulers : Since 1833 the reigning Al Maktoum family have ruled Dubai. Under their wise and progressive leadership Dubai has prospered and it is now the business and tourism hub for a region.
Since 1833 the reigning Al Maktoum family have ruled Dubai. Under their wise and progressive leadership Dubai has prospered and it is now the business and tourism hub for a region that stretches from Egypt to the Indian sub-continent, and from South Africa to the CIS countries.
The eighth ruler from the Al Maktoum family, the late His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai from 1958 – 1990, guided the Emirate with compassion and understanding. He realized what was necessary to transform Dubai into the cosmopolitan, prosperous city it is today. Sheikh Rashid along with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is credited with playing a key role in establishing the federation of the United Arab Emirates.
Following the death of Sheikh Rashid in November 1990, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum became Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, positions he held until he passed away in January 2006.
On January 4th 2006, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Ruler of Dubai following the death of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Under his leadership Dubai is fast becoming one of the major cities in the world. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is also the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE.
On 1st February, 2008, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was proclaimed Crown Prince of Dubai. He is also Chairman of Dubai’s Executive Council. The Deputy Rulers of Dubai are HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is also the UAE’s Minister of Finance.
HISTORY & ECONOMY
Some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, led by the Maktoum Family, settled at the mouth of the creek in 1833. The creek was a natural harbour and Dubai soon became a centre for the fishing, pearling and sea trade.
By the turn of the 20th century Dubai was a successful port. The souk (Arabic for market) on the Deira side of the creek was the largest on the coast with 350 shops and a steady throng of visitors and businessmen. By the 1930s Dubai’s population was nearly 20,000, a quarter of whom were expatriates.
In the 1950s the creek began to silt, a result perhaps of the increasing number of ships that used it. The late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, decided to have the waterway dredged. It was an ambitious, costly, and visionary project. The move resulted in increased volumes of cargo handling in Dubai. Ultimately it strengthened Dubai’s position as a major trading and re-export hub.
When oil was discovered in 1966, Sheikh Rashid utilized the oil revenues to spur infrastructure development in Dubai. Schools, hospitals, roads, a modern telecommunications network … the pace of development was frenetic. A new port and terminal building were built at Dubai International Airport. A runway extension that could accommodate any type of aircraft was implemented. The largest man-made harbor in the world was constructed at Jebel Ali, and a free zone was created around the port.
Dubai’s formula for development was becoming evident to everyone – visionary leadership, high-quality infrastructure, an expatriate-friendly environment, zero tax on personal and corporate income and low import duties. The result was that Dubai quickly became a business and tourism hub for a region that stretches from Egypt to the Indian sub-continent and from South Africa to what are now called the CIS countries.
Since the 1960s, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, then ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum had dreamed of creating a federation of the Emirates in the region. Their dreams were realized in 1971 when Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and (in 1972) Ras Al Khaimah, joined to create the United Arab Emirates.
Under the late Sheikh Zayed, the first President of UAE, the UAE has developed into one of the richest countries in the world with a per capita GDP in excess of US$17,000 per annum.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Dubai took a strategic decision to emerge as a major international-quality tourism destination. Investments in tourism infrastructure have paid off handsomely over the years.
Dubai is now a city that boasts unmatchable hotels, remarkable architecture and world-class entertainment and sporting events. The beautiful Burj Al Arab hotel presiding over the coastline of Jumeira beach is the world’s only hotel with a seven star rating. The Emirates Towers are one of the many structures that remind us of the commercial confidence in a city that expands at a remarkable rate. Standing 350 meters high, the office tower is the tallest building in the Middle East and Europe.
Dubai also hosts major international sporting events. The Dubai Desert Classic is a major stop on the Professional Golf Association tour. The Dubai Open, an ATP tennis tournament, and the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race, draw thousands every year.
Dubai Economy: The past few decades have witnessed incredible growth throughout all sectors of the Dubai economy. The emirate’s government is constantly working to improve its commercial transparency and introduce dynamic regulations that aid the formation of small and medium enterprises. Dubai’s economy is no longer reliant on oil, but is more diversified, relying heavily on trade, services and finance sectors. With its central geographic location between Asian and European markets, Dubai has worked hard to establish itself as an integral part of the global trade mechanism. Its central location has also allowed Dubai to become a popular and accessible tourist destination.
Dubai has changed dramatically over the last three decades, becoming a major business centre with a more dynamic and diversified economy. Dubai enjoys a strategic location and serves as the biggest re-exporting centre in the Middle East.
Its low logistical and operational costs and excellent infrastructure, international outlook and liberal government policies are attracting investors in a big way. Activities such as trade, transport, tourism, industry and finance have shown steady growth and helped the economy to achieve a high degree of expansion and diversification.
In order to assist those interested in obtaining further details about the Dubai economy , pages have been provided below with the latest data for key socio-economic indicators. They contain tables on Dubai Economic Statistics extracted from the “Dubai Socio-Economic Development Indicators” including a wide range of current data on the Dubai economy and society. Also, other pages contain the Quarterly Indicators as well as information about Investment in Dubai, industrial projects and commercial/ business centers.
Why Choose Dubai As An Investment Location?
The Dubai economy enjoys a competitive combination of cost, market and environmental advantages that create an ideal and attractive investment climate for local and expatriate businesses alike. In fact, these advantages not only rank Dubai as the Arabian Gulf’s leading multi-purpose business center and regional hub city, but they place it at the forefront of the globe’s, dynamic and emerging market economies.
Dubai, with its ancient commercial and seafaring traditions, has long been recognized as the Middle East region’s leading trading hub and has emerged as its key re-export center. In more recent years, the Emirate has become a major venue for a number of growing, profitable industries and activities:
Meetings, conferences, exhibitions
Corporate regional headquarters
Regional transport, distribution and logistics center
Banking, finance and insurance
Business and industrial consulting
Information and Communications Technology
Light and medium manufacturing
This all became possible due to Dubai’s warm, welcoming people, world class facilities and infrastructure and farsighted, open and liberal economic policies. Finally, committed to a progressive vision of itself, keen to diversify its economy and diminish its reliance upon shrinking oil revenues, Dubai has begun to develop into the Arabian Gulf’s premier international business center. Consider the factors that contribute to this ongoing success story.
Dubai’s Key Advantages
Strategic Location: Dubai is a time zone bridge between the Far East and Europe on the East-West axis and the CIS and Africa on the north-south axis. It is a gateway to a market that can be characterized as:
Large – well established trading links exist with the greater than 1.5 billion people in the neighboring region covering the Gulf, Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean, CIS, Central Asia, Africa and the Asian sub-continent;
Growing – Dubai’s total international trade has grown on average by over 11% per year since 1988 and regional economic growth and liberalization should boost demand further;
Prosperous – a buoyant local economy strategically located in the midst of one of the world’s richest regions and well endowed with ample supplies of cheap energy and primary aluminum; also adjacent to major regional suppliers of vital agro-export commodities;
Diversified – varied and significant import requirements generate opportunities for product suppliers and re-exporters;
Accessible – served by over 120 shipping lines and linked via 85 airlines to over 130 global destinations;
Open – no exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers.
Political And Economic Stability: Dubai is part of the UAE which is a low-crime and politically-stable country. Also, the UAE enjoys financial and monetary stability. Its well-developed, sophisticated banking system features extensive credit facilities and ample liquidity. The Emirate’s emerging capital markets are built on a basis of leading-edge technologies and sound regulatory systems. The government has a long, consistent commitment to pro-business, liberal economic policies including the protection of intellectual property rights. The UAE benefits from stable and harmonious industrial relations. Finally, there is a well defined, sound legal framework for business and a clear set of ownership rules. Foreigners are permitted ownership rights of up to 49% for limited liability companies established within the Emirate of Dubai and up to 100% for professional companies, branches and representative offices of foreign companies and free zones enterprises. All of these factors reflect positively in Dubai’s being assigned an investment grade rating for fixed income investment by Moody’s Investors Service.
Open And Free Economic System: Dubai’s economy has been kept open and free to attract investors and business. Government control and regulation of private sector activities has been kept to a minimum. There are no direct taxes on corporate profits or personal income (except for oil companies that pay a flat rate of 55% and branches of foreign banks that pay a flat rate of 20% on net profit generated within Dubai). Customs duties are low at 4% with many exemptions, 100% repatriation of capital and profits is permitted, there are no foreign exchange controls, trade quotas or barriers and a stable exchange rate exists between the US Dollar and the UAE Dirham (US$1.00=AED 3.678). Liberal visa policies permit easy importation of expatriate labor of various skill levels from almost all over the world.
World Class Infrastructure and Service Sector: Dubai’s deliberate policy of investing heavily in transport, telecommunications, energy and industrial infrastructure has enabled it to have one of the best infrastructure facilities in the world; it also contributed significantly both to its ongoing prosperity and attractiveness to international business. The Emirate features a network of seven industrial areas, one business park and three highly successful, specialized free zones of international distinction, two world class seaports, a major international airport and cargo village, a modern highway network, state-of-the-art telecommunications and reliable power and utilities all of which deliver efficiency, flexibility, reliability, reasonable cost and size.Complementing its world class infrastructure is a sophisticated service sector that features leading regional and international freight forwarders, shipping companies, insurers plus major international hotels, banks and financial service firms, lawyers, accounting firms, consultants, advertising agencies, top international exhibition and conference facilities, high quality office and residential accommodation, first class hospitals, schools, shopping centers and recreational facilities. Free Zones Websites: Dubai Airport Free Zone Jebel Ali Free Zone Dubai Media City Dubai Internet City
Competitive Cost Structure: International companies setting up in Dubai can obtain significant cost advantages not generally available internationally. The major factors are:
No foreign exchange controls,
No trade barriers or quotas,
Competitive import duties (4% with many exemptions),
Competitive labor costs – labor force is multi-lingual and skilled,
Competitive energy costs,
Competitive real estate costs,
Competitive financing costs and high levels of liquidity,
No corporate profit or personal income taxes (except for oil companies and branches of foreign banks). You can refer to the tables under the “Cost of Doing Business” section.
High Quality of Life, Excellent Living Conditions: Dubai’s private sector has invested heavily in real estate such as hotels, residential and commercial properties, recreational and leisure facilities. In addition, a number of factors have contributed to the Emirate’s high quality of life and superior living conditions making it a model location for many to emulate. Those factors include excellent infrastructural facilities, low crime, clean environment, tolerance and cultural diversity, cosmopolitan life style, modern public administration, availability of a wide range of consumer goods and services, mild winters and clean, palm fringed beaches.
Strong Local Commercial Tradition and Wide Choice of Potential Business Partners: The local business class has a long tradition of trading activity and wide exposure to international business practices and state-of-the-art technologies. Local entrepreneurs have already gained successful experience with international partnerships in franchising, licensing, joint ventures, etc, in various sectors of the economy.
Extensive Foreign Trade Network & Major Achievements in Export and Re-Export Performance: Dubai boasts an extensive foreign trade network extending to 179 states thus offering the investor an extensive choice of potential global marketing outlets for a diverse portfolio of goods and services. As a member of the UAE federation, Dubai is also part of the world’s third-largest export and re-export center after Hong Kong and Singapore.
Rapidly Developing Manufacturing Sector Producing a Wide Range of High Quality, Competitive Export Products: Major gains have already been made in the profitable manufacture and export of aluminum ingots, fabricated metal products, textiles and ready-made garments, gold and jewelry, prepared foodstuffs, consumer electronics, refined petroleum, chemical and non-metallic mineral products. Supportive commercial, industrial, political and economic factors are currently in place that make possible the extension of these gains to other manufacturing sub-sectors.