Dubai economy to grow nearly three per cent

Source: The Times of Malta

The International Monetary Fund said last Wednesday the economy of debt-laden Dubai was expected to expand by nearly three per cent this year¸ on the back of robust trade¸ logistics and tourism sectors.

“The recovery is taking hold¸ and we see the growth rate for Dubai this year just a little bit shy of three per cent¸” said Masood Ahmed¸ the director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department.

“Things that are driving that process (of recovery) are the improvement in trade¸ logistics and tourism¸ all of which are doing better¸” he told AFP upon the release of the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook in Dubai.

Economists have been bullish about the prospects for the economy of the Gulf city-state¸ whose debt woes rattled global markets in late 2009 and whose economy contracted about 2.4 per cent in 2009 after several years of rapid economic growth.

The economy grew by a mere 0.5 per cent last year¸ the IMF said.

Citibank said last month that it expected Dubai’s economy to grow 4.5 per cent this year and 6.3 per cent next year¸ while Dubai’s Department of Economic Development put growth forecast this year at between three and four per cent.

Ahmed said an agreement reached earlier this year between Dubai’s largest group¸ Dubai World¸ and its lenders to restructure billions of dollars of debt has been positive to the economy.

“The restructuring of Dubai World’s debt has been a positive step not only for itself but also for the fact that has enabled other top-rated borrowers to come to the market place.”

Dubai had borrowed heavily to finance its rapid economic growth¸ which came to a shrieking halt when international finance dried out in the wake of the global financial crisis in late 2008.

But it has established itself as a regional hub for business¸ transit trade¸ logistics and tourism.

Ahmed warned of continuing uncertainties threatening the recovery of Dubai’s economy¸ highlighting a continued saturation in the badly hit property sector¸ debt problems of other government-related entities and a rising cost of borrowing due to regional unrest.

“The overhang on real estate is still there. We do see that with the existing over supply and the inventory that is expected to come online over the next couple of years¸” he said.

“This will be a continuing drag on the economy for some time¸” he said.

The sector grew rapidly until it crashed with the global financial crisis¸ sending property prices tumbling to half their peak values registered in summer 2008¸ and creating a supply glut.