x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

UAE to stay top FDI destination in Gulf

The country would continue to attract foreign funds in sectors ranging from property to energy, a senior official says.

ABU DHABI // The UAE expects to remain the main recipient of foreign direct investment in the Gulf Arab region, despite competition from other Gulf states, a senior economy official said on Monday. "The UAE will continue to be the major player when it comes to foreign direct investment, without any doubt," Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, director general of the ministry of the economy, told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar in the UAE capital.

"Numbers show where the investment is going -- it's coming to the UAE," he said. "The year before last we had 60 percent of FDI in the UAE, last year it was about 50 percent." He added: "We have in the UAE all the ingredients that will make foreign direct investment attractive ... Qatar has its own way, Saudi Arabia has its own industries." Gulf countries have seen ambitious growth plans jolted by the global downturn, as oil and revenues have fallen and the construction and property sectors have slowed.

The UAE emirate of Dubai relies more on foreign investment for revenue because it has few energy resources of its own. The central bank in Abu Dhabi, the seat of UAE oil wealth, helped Dubai by taking up a $10 billion in bonds. The emirate has outstanding debt of around $80 billion. "We in the UAE feel that the worst of the crisis is behind us. We see clear indications it is bottoming out," Mr Abdul Aziz said, citing the property sector.

"The most important lesson for us has been the need for corporate and government accountability. We need transparency," he added. The removal of respected Dubai finance chief Nasser al-Shaikh last week raised questions among some investors about commitment to restructure and meet obligations. Dubai leaders have said they will crack down on corruption, with some high-level figures facing legal action over the last year.

Mr Abdul Aziz said the UAE would improve the availability of economic data with a new body in charge of publication to be set up later this year. "We'll be in a position to have more precise data," he said. *Reuters