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Oil Importing Arab Nations Set for a Thriving 2013 and Positive Data for Dubai With Employment Growth and Exports Up in 2012

Middle East : 25 January 2013

Economies of Arab Nations Importing Oil Set for Recovery This Year

After a slight economic decline in 2012, the Arabian oil importing nations are forecasting an increase in economic activity this year. This positive shift resulted from recovery in sectors such as investments and tourism, according to the IIF of Washington.

The IIF warned that challenges remain for the coming year, with continued political turmoil across the Arab region having an effect on security. Based on figures from the IIF, the combined GDP for Arabian oil importing nations, not including Syria, grew by about 2.2 percent last year. This growth rate is below the 2011 figure of 2.3 percent and the 2010 data of 4.7 percent growth.

The IIF also noted that although FDI and the tourism industry have improved after a drop in 2011, the data is still falling below numbers seen before regional revolts took place.

Expectations outline around 3 percent real GDP growth for this year, mainly resulting from modest improvements in exports and investments. Inflation continues to be a problem in oil importing nations around the Arab world, with consumer prices jumping temporarily due to subsidy cutbacks.

Subdued FDI figures and slow recovery in the tourism industries of Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan continue to keep expectations in check. The IIF stated that, as well as implementing expansionary fiscal policies, the authorities of these nations have continued to be accommodating with monetary policies.

Dubai Employment Growth Reported at 16 Percent for 2012

More companies registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre last year, as the year-on-year totaled increased by 7 percent and 912 new businesses submitted registrations.

More non-regulated companies are registered with the DIFC when compared to regulated firms, but the financial centre reported an improved diversification within the retail industry, registering 22 new outlets in 2012 and pushing the overall retail portfolio to 117.

Dubai remains the leading financial centre in the MENA region, and ranks among the highest players from around the globe for international offices, including London, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Companies registered with the DIFC represent a combined workforce of 14,000 employees, a 16 percent growth over last year’s registrations.

The unique position and propositions offered by Dubai deliver unequalled opportunity for connections and accessibility within the MENA markets and around Southern Asia. Growth in the DIFC indicates an ongoing drive for international companies to establish themselves within the region, according to DIFC Authority CEO Jeffrey Singer.

Although the global economy continues to face challenges, the DIFC has witnessed positive performance in all business areas. The quality infrastructure and well recognized framework of regulations and legislation in Dubai have created a platform for international companies that seek to build relationships within a broad, robust financial climate.

DIFC includes regulated firms from across the globe, with European businesses comprising 37 percent of the registrants, Middle East companies making up 26 percent, North American businesses at 18 percent and Asian companies at 11 percent. About 8 percent of registrants come from other parts of the world.

The DIFC noted a marked increase in authorized companies across several license categories. Many existing clients of the DIFC, including UBS AG, VTB Capital PLC and Bank Sarasin-Alpen Middle East, upgraded their status to a higher category in the last year. These changes indicate that business transactions and activities have significantly increased for Centre registrants.

The DIFC supports growth in business and encourages strategies to that end. Nineteen of the top 35 banking firms in the world name Dubai as a location of choice, as do eleven of the globe’s leading twenty money managers, six out of ten leading legal firms and eight out of ten top insurance firms. These figures establish DIFC as one of the world’s most prestigious business communities.

Dubai has earned the rank of leading financial centre within the MENA and South Asian regions, according to the Global Financial Centres Index report from September of last year.

Occupancy with the Gate District commercial offices owned by the DIFC continued to be high, with 94 percent of the leasable space filled. Occupancy within office space managed by the DIFC, yet owned by a third party, stood at 90 percent, including locations such as Currency Tower, Currency House and portions of Liberty House.

Exports and Re-Exports in Dubai Rose by 51 Percent in 2012

The exports and re-exports from Dubai to other GCC nations increased by 51 percent last year. Saudi Arabia came in as the largest export market for the emirate, according to a recent study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Dubai Chamber members exported and re-exported Dh 136.7 billion of goods to other GCC countries in 2012. Compared to the 2011 figures, this represented a 51 percent increase.

Dubai moved Dh 71.6bn in goods to Saudi Arabia, representing 27 percent of the overall exports for Dubai and 52 percent of the exports moving from Dubai to the GCC. Greater opportunities in the Kingdom prompted the opening of a rep office in Saudi Arabia this year, with the intention of increased promotion for exports between the nations, according to Dubai Chamber’s Director General Hamad Bu Amim.

Simple proximity and rising demand have led to a busy flow of exports and re-exports between members of the GCC and members of the Dubai Chamber, according to local economist Irfan Al Hassani.

Exports to Oman grew by 35 percent, while exports to Qatar rose by 26 percent. This double-digit growth was echoed in exports to Kuwait (up by 17 percent) and to Bahrain (up by 11 percent).

Trading within the customs territory, duty shops and free zones of Dubai declined by around 4 percent, according to the latest report.

Data in the study showed that exports to Egypt recovered well after a period of decline during the political turmoil. Conflict resolution actually resulted in an exports expansion of 34 percent between Dubai Chamber members and Egypt. Exports to Libya also grew following the resolutions, swelling by an astonishing 279 percent last year.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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