Dubai attracted $6.7 billion FDI in 2020

More than 18,000 new jobs were created by inbound foreign investment last year

RYP3WE Amazing Dubai city center at sunrise, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Alamy
Powered by automated translation

Dubai, the Middle East's financial, transportation and trade hub, attracted Dh24.7 billion ($6.7bn) in foreign direct investment in 2020 through 455 projects, according to government data.

The inbound FDI created an estimated 18,325 new jobs in the emirate last year, according to data from the Dubai FDI Monitor released by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of Dubai Economy. It did not provide comparative figures for 2019.

The 455 FDI projects implemented in Dubai in 2020 exceeded the annual average of 441 over the past five years, according to the data.

"Dubai’s success in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic and starting the recovery phase in record time is a testament to our commitment to provide the best investment environment in the world and transform global challenges into new opportunities for growth," Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, said.

He added that progress by the emirate was "driven by technology and innovation and powered by Emirati and global talent, making Dubai the best place in the world to work, live, and invest".

The UAE has introduced a number of regulatory changes in recent months to attract more investment into its economy, create jobs and draw high-skilled talent. These have included changes to its visa regime offering citizenship to qualifying investors and reforms to its commercial company ownership laws removing the requirement for onshore companies to have a local sponsor.

Globally, FDI slumped 42 per cent in 2020 and is expected to weaken further in 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the pace of economic recovery, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).

The US was the top source country, accounting for 21 per cent of FDI capital and 22 per cent of FDI projects into Dubai, according to the government statement. France accounted for 16 per cent of FDI capital into the emirate last year, followed by Japan with 11 per cent, the UK with 7 per cent, and Germany with 6 per cent.

These top five source countries accounted for 60 per cent of total FDI capital flows and 52 per cent of the announced FDI projects.

In terms of industries, the accommodation and food services sector attracted the most FDI flows into the emirate, accounting for 40 per cent of the total estimated FDI capital flows. Electric power generation, information services, healthcare and social assistance and retail and wholesale trade made up the top five.

The top five sectors in terms of FDI projects, accounting for 54 per cent of the total, were accommodation & food services, retail and wholesale trade, software publishers, finance & insurance and company management.

Dubai led the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in attracting the most greenfield FDI capital, according to the Financial Times’ fDi Markets, a data provider.

Dubai also achieved its highest ever global share of FDI projects, attracting 2.1 per cent of the total for last year, the statement said.

FDI capital from reinvestment projects in Dubai reached Dh1.6bn in 2020, exceeding the Dh1bn mark for the first time since 2016, according to the Dubai FDI Monitor. Dubai ranked first in the Mena region in reinvestment FDI projects and capital. It ranked 4th and 11th globally in the two categories respectively, according to fDi Markets.

In terms of venture capital FDI, Dubai-based startups attracted an estimated Dh2.36bn in FDI capital through 31 investment deals in 2020, according to data from MAGNiTT, a Dubai-based start-up data analysis firm. Dubai ranked first in the Mena region and 11th globally on fDI Intelligence's “Global Venture Capital FDI 2020” report.