Dubai recorded a major increase in trade over the first nine months of last year, with activity surging by 23 per cent at the emirate's ports and airports. But the figures do not include the downward trajectory of the global economy in the final quarter of last year.
Dubai Customs yesterday said the value of non-oil trade between January and September last year was Dh814 billion (US$221.61bn), compared with Dh661bn in the period a year earlier.
The biggest growth in value was recorded in imports, which rose by 21 per cent to Dh326bn.
"It's good that the numbers held up over that period, but Dubai is a small, open economy, and as a consequence is heavily exposed to the trends in the global economy," said Simon Williams, the chief economist at HSBC in Dubai. "That would have weighed on Dubai trade in the last quarter of 2011, and will continue to create headwinds throughout 2012."
After undergoing a slow recovery, economies of the euro zone tanked along with that of the US, battered down by a sovereign-debt crisis in Europe, high oil prices and fiscal austerity. Most outlooks for this year suggest stagnant growth in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development economies, with Europe already slipping towards recession.
The Dubai Government said the vitality of the domestic economy was a key driver behind the increase in trade.
"The growing purchasing power [has] contributed to the increase in the imports volume, while the distinctive higher quality of UAE product together with the support to the national industry and facilities given to exporters have played a prominent role in increasing exports and opening new markets," said Ahmed Butti Ahmed, the director general of Dubai Customs.
But analysts have questioned the claim.
"There may have been some pick-up in the first months of 2011, but the indicators we see for the second and third quarters suggest that the economy hasn't been building momentum," Mr Williams said.