Dubai remains top globally for greenfield FDI projects, beating Singapore and London

Emirate secured 1,070 such projects last year, retaining its lead for the third consecutive year

Dubai attracted nearly Dh39.3 billion in total FDI capital last year. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Dubai remained the world's top destination for greenfield foreign direct investment projects in 2023, the third consecutive year it has achieved that status, despite challenging global economic conditions, a study has shown.

The emirate secured 1,070 global greenfield FDI projects last year, 142 per cent more than second-placed Singapore (442) and 148 per cent higher than third-placed London (431), Dubai Media Office, citing data from the Financial Times fDi Markets report, said on Tuesday.

In the past five years, Dubai’s share in attracting such global projects has more than tripled. It increased from 1.7 per cent in 2019 to 6 per cent in 2023, as the emirate seeks to become a top global city under its D33 economic agenda.

A greenfield investment is a type of FDI in which a parent company creates a subsidiary in a different country, building its operations from the ground up, according to Investopedia.

“Dubai’s stability, cutting-edge infrastructure, and dynamic business environment have made it a focal point for investment, enterprise and talent,” said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council.

“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.”

Dubai's D33 strategy aims to double the size of its economy to Dh32 trillion ($8.71 trillion) over the next decade and establish the emirate among the top three global cities.

The plan aims to support 30 private companies to achieve unicorn status, or to be worth more than $1 billion. Other business incubators will support the growth of private companies, with 400 of the most promising identified.

It also aims to make Dubai a global digital economy leader, the fastest-growing and most attractive global business centre, a centre for sustainability and economic diversification, and an incubator and enabler of talented Emiratis.

A total of 1,650 FDI projects were announced in Dubai between January and December, a year-on-year growth of 39 per cent, according to Dubai FDI Monitor data. Nearly 44,771 estimated jobs, up 15.5 per cent, were created through FDI in Dubai.

The emirate attracted nearly Dh39.3 billion in total FDI capital last year.

In terms of greenfield FDI, Dubai was ranked as the top city within various clusters such as consumer goods, energy, e-commerce, and tourism, the fDi report found.

Greenfield FDI projects accounted for nearly 65 per cent of total announced FDI projects last year.

The emirate also secured the top global ranking for headquarter FDI projects for the second consecutive year. It attracted 60 projects in 2023, followed by Singapore (40) and London (31).

The city also climbed to fourth place worldwide in job creation through inward FDI, up from fifth in 2022. For greenfield FDI capital attraction, Dubai rose two positions to fifth spot globally.

The top five source countries by FDI capital accounted for 66.6 per cent of the total estimated flows into Dubai in 2023, according to official data.

They include Canada (26.5 per cent), the US (17.5 per cent), Saudi Arabia (8.9 per cent), the UK (8.2 per cent) and India (5.5 per cent).

Updated: May 14, 2024, 4:36 PM