Dubai's November business activity softens but vaccine optimism underpins strong 2021 recovery

The emirate records lowest job losses in the past nine months as business picks up in wholesale and retail sector

Dubai’s non-oil private sector softened in November, however, job losses were the lowest in nine months as business picked up in the wholesale and retail sector, and breakthroughs in vaccines usher in optimism on a strong recovery in 2021.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Purchasing Managers' Index – a composite gauge that provides a snapshot of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – fell to 49 in November from 49.9 in October. A reading above the neutral 50 level indicates an economic expansion, while a reading below points to a contraction.

"Job numbers were stabilising in November to signal that the impact of cost-cutting efforts on payrolls has started to ease,” IHS Markit economist David Owen said. “News about effective vaccines could restore long-term optimism, as firms are likely to place greater hopes of a strong recovery in 2021."

In October, Dubai increased the total stimulus package to support the local economy to Dh6.8 billion ($1.85bn).

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said earlier this month the country will recover from the pandemic quicker than other countries, with an economic rebound expected next year.

The UAE's non-oil GDP is expected to grow 3.6 per cent by the end of 2021, according to the Central Bank of the UAE. The total value of economic support packages and initiatives provided by the federal and local governments since the onset of the pandemic has reached more than Dh388bn.

The measures have cushioned the impact of the pandemic, helping ensure business continuity and sustaining the momentum of commercial activities.