Abu Dhabi's GDP exceeded $299bn in 2022, with half from non-oil sector

Emirate aims to increase its non-oil exports by 143% to nearly $49bn by 2031, official says

The Annual Investment Meeting is being hosted by Abu Dhabi for the first time. Victor Besa / The National
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Abu Dhabi's gross domestic product exceeded Dh1.1 trillion ($299.5 billion) last year, an estimated 9.3 per cent growth over 2021, with the non-oil sector accounting for half of it, a senior official has said.

The UAE capital aims to increase its non-oil exports by 143 per cent to Dh178.8 billion ($48.7 billion) by 2031, Ahmed Al Zaabi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, told the Annual Investment Meeting conference in the capital on Monday.

“Abu Dhabi is witnessing the rise of the Falcon economy, which continues to go from strength to strength, driven by agile policies and a robust regulatory and legal framework, making us an anchor for companies looking to expand the operations in the region,” he said.

“Our rapid economic growth, along with the growing confidence of the international community to live, invest and thrive in Abu Dhabi, makes us an ideal destination of choice.”

Abu Dhabi's economy grew by 10.5 per cent on an annual basis in the first nine months of 2022, the fastest expansion in the Mena region, according to data from the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.

The non-oil sector contributed 50.3 per cent to the emirate's gross domestic product, figures showed.

It recorded an increase of Dh39 billion from the same period in 2021 to hit Dh417.3 billion by the end of the third quarter.

Abu Dhabi and the UAE, in general, are focusing heavily on attracting more foreign direct investment and diversifying its economy away from oil.

Underscoring the growth of the country's non-oil sector, Mr Al Zaabi said on Monday that the UAE's banking sector grew 12-fold to $900 billion in 2022, with its contribution to nominal GDP increasing from 70 per cent in 2000 to more than 250 per cent in 2022.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ports has expanded Khalifa Port to 8.5 square km, up from 2.5 square km, while its quay wall was expanded significantly to 12.5km.

The move is expected to expand its capacity to 15 million twenty-foot equivalent units by 2030 while its general cargo handling capacity is set to go up to 25 million tonnes, he said.

Abu Dhabi's goal to more than double its non-oil exports by 2031 comes as the UAE signs a series of comprehensive economic partnership agreements that have “reinforced the UAE's status as a global trade hub”, he said.

The UAE's non-oil foreign trade crossed the Dh2 trillion mark for the first time last year, totalling Dh2.2 trillion in 2022, an increase of 17 per cent from 2021.

The country's “innovation-based economy continues to thrive” because its diversification is built on sustainable foundations, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in his opening remarks at the conference.

He said the question facing governments worldwide as the global economy emerges from the coronavirus-induced slowdown was “how do we achieve sustainable, diversified and prosperous economies that benefit everyone?".

“The answer lies in the realisation that these elements all go hand in hand.”

This means encouraging investments in different economic sectors, ensuring equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender or race, and directing investment towards advanced technology the reduce carbon emissions, he said.

The UAE is “well down the path” concerning the achievement of this balance and strategic investment remains a key priority, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“While the world talks about deglobalisation, our focus is on economic expansion. We continue to attract international investors, thanks to our business-friendly policies, our strategic location and world-class infrastructure. But more than that, we believe they are attracted by our ambition.”

Abu Dhabi is hosting the AIM conference — a gathering of business leaders, investors, government officials — for the first time.

This year's event is focused on the need for a new approach to investment, where investment opportunities “foster sustainable economic growth, promote diversity and ensure prosperity for all”, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“As we move forward, we must work together to ensure investment is not just a tool for turning profit, but for making a positive impact on our economies, communities and environment,” he said.

Updated: May 08, 2023, 7:18 PM