Dubai’s Al Habtoor says 2018 marks start of economic recovery, plans new projects

Healthcare and education are some of the ‘more promising sectors’ for investments in the UAE, he said



Dubai businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor has dismissed reports of an ongoing “economic meltdown”, saying the economic growth had begun in the region and across the world.

“Despite news headlines showing the world in turbulence, 2018 was the start of the recovery, which will continue climbing through 2019, and 2020 onwards,” Al Habtoor, the founding chairman of conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, said in a statement.

“Scare tactics and drama are more appealing on television, but figures give a more positive and realistic outlook.”

Al Habtoor admitted that the financial crisis in 2008 ‘shook the trust’ among businesses worldwide.

“But the world has recovered stronger than ever, and we are seeing steady positive growth, which will extend to 2019, 2020 and beyond,” he said.

“We have been operating in the market for more than 48 years, we invest in the Middle East, Europe and the US. As investors, we look for signs, and they are there,” he added.

He also expressed confidence in the GCC market, highlighting healthcare and education as being some of the more promising sectors in the UAE, in particular.

“Trillions of US dollar investments were recently announced at the Saudi Investment Conference which took place last month. Those will create massive economic growth in Saudi Arabia, its neighbouring countries and the world. Millions of news jobs will be created. That is in addition to Neom, the new Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia, the massive developments taking place in the UAE ahead of Expo 2020, and across the GCC and Egypt,” he said.

“All of these projects will create an economic boost and massive opportunities for years to come. The multiplier effect will result in a gain 20 to 30 times of the initial investment,” he added.

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), economic growth in the GCC states is expected to reach 2.4 per cent in 2018 and 3 per cent in 2019, following a 0.4 per cent contraction in 2017.

Higher oil prices and a slower pace of fiscal consolidation are supporting a positive outlook for most oil exporting countries, it said.

The IMF also predicted strong GDP growth in each of the six Gulf states, on the back of increased development projects.

Read more: IMF says GCC economies to recover strongly in 2019

Globally, the IMF has projected that growth in 2018–19 will remain steady at its 2017 level at 3.7 per cent.

Al Habtoor also credited growth in the US and the rest of the bigger economies including China and India as reflective of positive trends globally.

“I have always believed that the United States’ economy reflects on all the world. This time it is a positive light,” he said.

The Dubai businessman also confirmed that the company, which has interests in hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing, will continue expansion.

“For the past five decades at least, we have witnessed ups and downs globally. This a cycle, the downtime has passed, it is now time to start on the upward trajectory.

“As a diversified group, we are moving forward confidently, with new projects in the pipeline which will be announced soon,” he added.