Dubai tops global list for attracting greenfield FDI projects
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Dubai tops global list for attracting greenfield FDI projects

Dubai tops global list for attracting greenfield FDI projects

In 2023, Dubai welcomed 1,070 global greenfield FDI projects, surpassing second-placed Singapore by 142 per cent and third-placed London by 148 per cent

Neesha Salian
Dubai tops global ranking for greenfield FDI projects for third time running photo courtesy Dubai Media Office

Recent statistics show that Dubai continues to solidify its position as the world’s leading hub for foreign direct investment (FDI).

According to data from Financial Times’fDi Markets‘, Dubai secured the top spot in global greenfield FDI projects attraction for the third consecutive year in 2023, reaffirming its appeal to international investors.

The city topped the list globally within key clusters including consumer goods, energy, e-commerce, and tourism for greenfield FDI projects attraction, greenfield FDI capital attraction, and jobs created through FDI attraction.

In 2023, Dubai welcomed 1,070 global greenfield FDI projects, surpassing second-placed Singapore by 142 per cent and third-placed London by 148 per cent. This achievement reflects Dubai’s robust economic growth and allure to investors worldwide.

Read: UAE attracts second-highest FDI inflow after US: UNCTAD

Incremental growth in FDI projects

Over the past five years, Dubai’s share of global greenfield FDI projects has more than tripled, underscoring its escalating prominence on the international investment landscape.

Highlighting its appeal as a headquarters (HQ) destination, Dubai ranked number one globally for HQ FDI projects for the second year in a row, after attracting an impressive 60 projects in 2023. Singapore and London were second and third globally, with 40 and 31 HQ FDI projects respectively.

Dubai also ranked fourth globally in the number of jobs created through Inward FDI, up from fifth in 2022, and for greenfield FDI capital attraction it ranked fifth globally, up two spots from seventh position.

Aligned with the ambitious objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the city’s stellar FDI performance underscores its unwavering commitment to doubling the size of its economy by 2033. Dubai’s ability to attract global FDI inflows exemplifies its status as a thriving economic powerhouse with boundless opportunities for businesses worldwide.

Dubai’s stability, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and dynamic business environment have positioned it as a magnet for investment, enterprise, and talent. The city’s top ranking in global FDI projects attraction reflects its robust economic fundamentals, strong collaborative spirit, and innovative initiatives aimed at sustaining growth across diverse sectors.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, Dubai’s ability to secure the top ranking in global Greenfield FDI projects underscores its capacity to generate new opportunities for global businesses consistently.

The Crown Prince said: “Dubai’s stability, cutting-edge infrastructure, and dynamic business environment have made it a focal point for investment, enterprise and talent. The city’s stature as a leading global investment destination reflects its robust economic fundamentals, a strong ethos of partnerships and innovative initiatives to sustain growth and innovation across various sectors.

“In 2024, as we work to accelerate the D33 Agenda, we will continue to intensify our initiatives to nurture a competitive economic ecosystem that fosters value creation. We are committed to making Dubai a place where the world’s leading companies, entrepreneurs and innovators come to build the future.”

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), added, “By capitalising on our unique strategic advantages, Dubai is poised to provide unparalleled opportunities in the global economic landscape, establishing itself as an essential destination for emerging businesses, investment, and talent, and as a vital expansion hub for global corporations.”

Highlights showcasing the emirate’s performance (Dubai FDI Monitor data)

  • Global FDI flows: According to UN Trade & Development, global FDI flows in 2023, at an estimated $1.37tn, showed an increase of 3 per cent over 2022. Yet, excluding few large European deals, global FDI flows were 18 per cent lower. Despite a global decrease in FDI flows, Dubai attracted an estimated Dhs39.26bn ($10.69bn) in total FDI capital during 2023.
  • FDI project growth: Dubai recorded 1,650 ‘announced’ FDI projects in 2023, marking a growth of 39 per cent compared to 2022. These projects included greenfield FDI, NFIs, mergers and acquisitions, reinvestments, venture capital-backed FDI, and greenfield joint ventures.
  • Job creation: Job creation through FDI in Dubai surged by 15.5 per cent year-over-year, with a total of 44,771 estimated jobs generated, driven primarily by sectors such as retail, business services, headquarters, sales, marketing support, and manufacturing.
  • Greenfield FDI trends: Greenfield FDI wholly-owned projects saw a slight percentage increase, while new forms of investments (NFIs) witnessed a rise from 25.2 per cent in 2022 to 31.4 per cent in 2023.
  • Technology sector growth: In 2023, 58 per cent of FDI projects in Dubai were in the high and medium-tech sectors, with significant investments in artificial intelligence (AI), FinTech, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and e-commerce.
  • Top source countries: Canada, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK and India emerged as the top five source countries for FDI capital into Dubai in 2023.
  • Top sectors: Financial services, business services, consumer products, software and IT services, and textiles are the top sectors attracting FDI capital flows into Dubai in 2023.
  • Business functions: Business services retained prominence, accounting for a significant portion of FDI capital flows and projects. The retail sector saw notable year-over-year increases in FDI capital and project attraction, indicating positive growth prospects.

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