x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE's strengths win approval of whole region

People around the region tell pollsters that the UAE would be a prime place to study, work, or invest. And it's not hard to see why.

Increasingly, across the region and around the world, the word is out about the UAE: this country is among the world's best places to live, work and study. A flurry of news stories in the past few days reveals how the country's prosperity, stability and opportunity have combined to make the UAE one of the world's most attractive places.

Consider the evidence: A survey by YouGov, covering the whole Middle East and North Africa region, found that fully 90 per cent of young adults like the idea of working in the UAE.

No wonder. At a time when economies all over the world are stagnating or shrinking, and when the region has its economic problems, the UAE's overall output rose by 7.7 per cent between 2011 and 2012, the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi announced recently.

Better still, that growth included a robust 9.6 per cent expansion in the non-oil portion of the economy. As we know, and as official planning reflects both at the national level and in individual emirates, building up elements of the economy beyond the oil and gas sector is essential. A diverse mixture of industries, supported by a sound education system, will obviously be vital to the country's long-term prosperity.

Growth of almost 10 per cent a year in the non-oil economy attracts plenty of attention. In another question on that YouGov poll, 80 per cent of respondents across the Mena region said they see the UAE as a desirable place to start a business. On yet another question, the UAE trailed only the US, UK and Canada as the place where young people from the region would most like to attend university. And as The National reported yesterday, surging consumer confidence and high sales have made the UAE the fifth most attractive retail destination among emerging markets.

Take all that together and it only seems natural that the Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, named on Saturday as the winner of this year's Arab Idol talent competition, has chosen to begin his performance tour of the region in Dubai. This is just one little example, among many, of how the UAE has become the hub of the region.

The reasons for the UAE's high rankings in public esteem are no mystery: wealth helps, of course, but beyond that, this country is an oasis of stability amid the troubles of the Arab Spring and the region's other conflicts. It enjoys a relatively open business environment. We enjoy modern infrastructure, a booming economy, and a standard of living that attracts both professionals and labourers from around the world.

No human society is utopia, and there is plenty of work still to be done to improve life in the UAE further. But Emiratis and expatriates alike are entitled to take some well-earned satisfaction in what we have accomplished together.