Dubai has gained the world's attention for its incredible achievements in social and economic development. Despite the challenges of the global financial crisis, the city underlined its remarkable resilience and has now firmly positioned itself on the growth track.
Today, there is a renewed confidence on the performance of Dubai's economy. A resurgence of activity is visible and the city is on track for the next phase of growth.
Historically, Dubai's economic growth has been impressive, particularly after the turn of the century when real GDP was growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 13 per cent, far exceeding that of its GCC counterparts.
Now emerging stronger and more mature out of the global downturn, the UAE is poised to take its growth to new levels with new priorities, and these will form part of the discussions at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda that opened in Dubai yesterday and runs until tomorrow.
Dubai is now focused on human capital development and is moving towards a knowledge-based economy. In this background, the summit assumes great significance as experts gather to monitor key trends, identify global risks, map inter-relationships and address knowledge gaps in areas ranging from renewable energy, poverty, health care, urban development, literacy and entrepreneurship.
These are areas in which the city has already made considerable progress. Led by its focus on economic diversification, infrastructure development and a commitment to promote socio-economic welfare, Dubai is rated among the world's top destinations for economic potential, growth, security, and ease of doing business.
Looking forward, the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 forms a solid ground for sustained growth in the era of knowledge.
Apart from urban growth and technological advancement, the plan focuses on infrastructure improvement, health and safety, education and judicial excellence.
The objectives include sustaining real economic growth at a rate of 11 per cent per annum to reach a GDP of US$108 billion (Dh396.72bn) by 2015 and to increase real GDP per capita to $44,000, by focusing on tourism, transport, trade, construction and financial services.
To meet the goals set by Dubai's leadership and community, the Government announced the establishment of the Dubai Competitiveness Office that came into being last month. The office will ensure Dubai remains the most competitive choice for global investors and national organisations.
Large investments have been made in infrastructure development, proof of Dubai's economic growth. Further diversification towards a more knowledge and service-based economy will eventually secure Dubai's position as a leading tourism, financial and business hub.
All these fit well with the advantage Dubai enjoys in terms of its geographical position, its excellent business environment and its new infrastructure. Today, Dubai is the regional headquarters for many global businesses.
The global downturn has given a new direction to Dubai's economy, not only steering it towards sustainable long-term growth in a knowledge based economy but also speeding up the process. Already, the information and communication technology and knowledge sector is the most advanced in the Middle East. Tourism, transportation and financial services continue to be key growth areas.
The commitment is now also on building a sustainable environment. The Green Economy Initiative announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, earlier this year is a reaffirmation of Dubai's commitment to diversify its energy sources and preserve its environment while strengthening its competitive position.
Through this initiative, Dubai aims to become a leading centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies.
The new areas of focus will contribute to further improving the quality of life of Dubai's residents, in turn enhancing its position as a city of world standards. This will have a trickle-down effect on high- growth industries such as property.
Growth will lead to more jobs, which means more people coming in and requiring more homes and office buildings. Of course, Dubai's traditional strength in trade will continue to grow, scaling new heights on the strength of its transport and logistics infrastructure. Trade will remain a significant contributor to GDP.
Clearly, the future economy will be all about investments in not only hard but also in soft infrastructure. The thrust on innovation and knowledge industry would bring about a transformation in the mix of jobs in the years to come rather than a decline in employment opportunities, as Dubai demonstrates today.
Dubai is all set to seize the economic, cultural and scientific opportunities to take growth levels higher, setting a new global benchmark.
Sami Al Qamzi is director general of Dubai Economic Development