UAE: The year 2022 in review
Now Reading
UAE: The year 2022 in review

UAE: The year 2022 in review

The UAE has accelerated its growth this year with key strategies, strong initiatives and a future-first approach


Net zero pathway. Metaverse. Books trove. IPO galore.

If there was one word to describe the year 2022 for the UAE, it would be ‘futuristic’.

Read: UAE’s 50th: Mapping the nation’s journey and the path forward

The UAE is no stranger to innovation and ambition. But this year was unprecedented in more ways than one. From announcing strategies to embracing the metaverse, implementing a new working week for federal government entities to inaugurating a Dhs1bn library and inking partnership agreements with key economies, the UAE o­ffered a glimpse of how it envisions the future, shaped by its strategic depth, tactical insights and an iron will.

“Economic growth has been robust this year, led by a strong rebound in tourism, construction and activity related to the Dubai World Expo, as well as higher oil production in line with the OPEC+ production agreements. Overall, GDP growth is projected to reach above 6 per cent in 2022, improving from 3.8 per cent in 2021,” said Ali Al-Eyd, who led an International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff­ team, which held discussions with UAE authorities for the 2022 Article IV Consultation from November 2-17.

Following a successful coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has demonstrated equivalent economic resilience, says James Dervin, head of strategy and performance improvement and co-head of Middle East, Alvarez & Marsal.

“The region more broadly bucked global IPO trends, with several successful listings in the UAE. We also witnessed a series of significant legislative and social developments, including the change to the working week and employment visa rules, which will have increased the UAE’s attractiveness to both business and talent alike. It would be remiss not to also acknowledge the success and broader impact of Expo 2020.”

If the digitalisation orchestrated by the Covid-19 pandemic was tectonic, the year 2022 had disruptive plans of its own. As did the UAE.

Consolidating its partnership with global tech players, Dubai, in the year’s first quarter, welcomed technology giant Meta’s new regional headquarters, from which it aims to serve markets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Library too was inaugurated this year, which became the first in the Middle East region to deploy an artificial intelligence (AI) system as well as robots.

In July, Dubai launched its metaverse strategy to advance the virtual world’s economic contribution through R&D collaborations as well as to further its ambition to support over 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030.

The new phase of the strategy was approved last month to empower the use of the metaverse and future technologies. On the launch of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications said that the metaverse would drive the UAE’s and Dubai’s e­ orts to provide innovative solutions, positively impact people’s lives, and transform the city into one of the smartest hubs worldwide offering new economic opportunities.

Several organisations drew inspiration, with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) becoming the first local government organisation to launch its platform on the metaverse, while telco e& also announced a soft launch of their virtual world.

Taking ‘innovation’ to the skies, Dubai hosted the world’s first public flight of the two-seater eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) flying car, X2, in October, to leverage an era of intelligent mobility solutions. In the neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi Airports inked an MoU with French firm Groupe ADP to explore advanced air mobility in Abu Dhabi to sustainably transport passengers and cargo.

Stepping into extraterrestrial territory, the first Emirati mission to the surface of the Moon launched this month was another key milestone.

The year 2022 was a banner year for listings in the country, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi bourses being part of an IPO-rush that emerged as a bright spot in an otherwise grim global market.

DEWA’s IPO on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) in April, that helped raise $6.1bn against an order book of almost $86bn, was the biggest listing across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region since Saudi Aramco’s 2019 offering.

The listing was followed by Dubai’s business districts operator Tecom Group’s IPO, which raked in $460m. Dubai toll operator Salik, which garnered over $1bn from its share sale, became the emirate’s third  listing for the year and the largest MENA IPO during Q3, according to EY.

It was followed by Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), which amassed $724m from listing a 20 per cent stake on DFM. The $204m IPO of school operator Taaleem Holdings last month capped a healthy stream of listings in Dubai.

Petrochemicals firm Borouge also raised total proceeds of over $2bn from listing a 10 per cent stake on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) this year, making it the bourse’s largest ever IPO. Additionally, AD Ports Group, Burjeel Holdings and G42-owned Bayanat also listed on the bourse.

The year started on a strong note for the local telecommunications industry, with the launch of a new brand identity – e& – for telecom giant Etisalat Group.

The company’s strategy aims to catalyse growth through a business model that represents key pillars, such as e& life which focuses on delivering digital experiences to customers through smart connectivity  platforms; e& enterprise which will propel the digital transformation of governments, corporates and enterprises; and e& capital which will drive the group’s growth.

Meanwhile, the company’s rebranded  telecom arm – etisalat by e& – conducted its first 6GHz test in the MENA region, opening possibilities for next-generation technologies. Telecom major du also partnered with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City to build a 5G centre of excellence.

The UAE announced the National Net Zero by 2050 Pathway at the COP27 summit this year, which outlined the timeframe and ways of implementing the country’s initiative to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, the country has continued with its efforts to increase the share of clean energy in its overall power mix. Unit 2 of the Barakah nuclear energy plant started commercial operations in March, while the plant’s third unit was also connected to the UAE’s transmission grid this year.

When the four units are commercially operational, the plant will prevent over 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year. The country also bid farewell to Expo 2020 Dubai, which concluded on March 31.

Building on its legacy, the exhibition site was morphed into a clean, tech-enabled city – Expo City Dubai – which officially opened its doors in October.

The car-free destination, which has retained several of Expo 2020’s attractions, is beckoning guests to a gamut of educational and entertainment offerings, as well as welcoming businesses to set up shop.

The UAE has continued to prioritise the tourism sector to position itself as a hub of diverse experiences and unique destinations.

The year 2022, however, raised the bar considerably high, with the country launching its national tourism strategy, aiming to welcome 40 million hotel guests by the year 2031. The strategy, which includes 25
initiatives and policies, will target raising the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP to Dhs450bn ($122.5bn) in 2031.

With the world opening up to travel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, local airlines swung into action this year, launching new routes, inking new agreements and posting promising bottom lines. Dubai-based Emirates Group recorded a 2022-2023 half-year profi t of $1.2bn, scaling from a $1.6bn loss posted during the same period last year.

The airline carried 20 million passengers between April 1 and September 30, up 228 per cent from a year-earlier period, while Dubai Airports ramped up its annual forecast for passenger traffic at Dubai International (DXB) to 64.3 million.

Meanwhile, Abu-Dhabi based Etihad Airways also posted $296m in core operating profit for the first half of 2022, swinging into the green zone from a $392m loss recorded during H1 2021. The carrier’s first flight using sustainable aviation fuel took off from Tokyo in October.

Hello, 2023
If this year’s initiatives undertaken by the UAE are anything to go by, the next year is expected to be promising at the very least.

From playing host to the COP28 summit to introducing federal corporate tax on business profits next year, the country is looking to push the boundaries in innovation and development. Going beyond the imminent future, the recently launched ‘We The UAE 2031’ plan will help shape the country’s future for the next decade.

However, the UAE’s efforts to develop a technology-driven, integrated and sustainable future is not a case of ambition gone unchecked.

It is simply a country’s vision to sculpt a legacy, that would, generations hence, speak to its drive of growth, and of possibility. In short, a legacy worth investing in.

You might also like


Scroll To Top