The United Arab Emirates is set to become the regional leader and a beacon of stability in the Middle East, according to the country’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
His statement comes as the region is marred by armed conflicts in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. Regional economies have also been hit by low oil prices.
In a foreword to the recently launched The Business Year: Dubai 2015, a report issued by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development on the local investment landscape, the head of the emirate said that the UAE is focusing on goals that will help it successfully host the World Expo 2020 and to realise its Vision 2021.
“Realising this Vision, and the efforts that are going into making Expo 2020 an event of international significance, depends entirely on the energy, creativity, and collaboration of our people,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“Our aims are many and varied, yet all seek the same level of international excellence.”
He also added that Dubai is on track to achieve its ambition to be a global leader in Islamic economy.
“In the realm of economy, we work to establish Dubai as the world’s centre for Islamic economy by 2018. Last year, we created the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre to encourage the realisation of this goal within just three years. Dubai already plays host to a thriving Islamic finance sector, which has been growing at nearly double the pace of the conventional financial sector over the last few years,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
He was also bullish about the growth of Dubai’s tourism sector, noting that the industry has a strong and stable foundation.
“The UAE is eighth in the world, and first in the Middle East, in the International Monetary Fund’s global competitive rankings. Coming to Dubai has never been easier–Al Maktoum International Airport, sitting at the heart of Dubai World Central, is fast becoming one of the world’s most premier air hubs, and will be able to handle up to 160 million passengers per year and 12 million tonnes of cargo annually.”
Sheikh Mohammed also emphasised the importance of quality education and said that the country will make its education system “an example of world excellence”.
He did not touch upon the ongoing oil price volatility in the market or its impact on the economy. But in an earlier note, Sheikh Mohammed was optimistic about the UAE’s economic growth in 2015, which he said will be buoyed by expenditure on large infrastructure projects in the pipeline.
A lengthy spate of low oil prices has driven the Gulf countries to priotise their economic diversification plans. The UAE has announced plans to cut the oil sector’s contribution to the GDP to 20 per cent from the current 30 per cent.
The country is also turning towards innovation to drive growth in the coming few years.