The UAE created about 250,000 jobs in the retail, finance, technology and telecoms sectors in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic that hit global trade and severely affected the labour market.
The country, the second-biggest Arab economy, added 100,000 jobs in the retail and e-commerce sector and 148,000 jobs in the finance, technology and telecoms sectors in 2020, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said in a tweet on Saturday.
"Crisis management creates opportunities ... and crises in management destroy gains," Sheikh Mohammed said.
This boost to the job market in the UAE defied a global economic contraction of 3.3 per cent last year.
The Covid-19 pandemic tipped the world economy into its worst recession, disrupted trade, hindered travel and forced countries into lockdowns that led to higher unemployment and poverty, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Global trade shrunk by 8.5 per cent last year, according to the fund’s estimates. About 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost last year due to the pandemic, roughly four times the number lost in the 2008 financial crisis, according to the International Labour Organisation.
The UAE reacted quickly to the pandemic-driven slowdown and introduced economic stimulus measures to help businesses and residents.
Overall, the country has unveiled economic support packages worth at least Dh388 billion since the onset of the pandemic.
Dubai was among the first cities to reopen its borders to international tourists in July after it put in place rigorous health and safety measures that gave the hospitality and retail sectors a boost.
While 2020 was a tough year for brick-and-mortar retailers, the pandemic hastened the growth of the e-commerce sector as more consumers shopped from home amid movement restrictions.
In the UAE, the increase in online consumer spending in 2020 was mainly driven by a 21 per cent annual jump in the number of online shops, in addition to a 44 per cent annual surge in the number of high-volume e-commerce trading partners last year, according to Mastercard.
The technology sector also benefitted from additional investment during the pandemic as businesses came up with more innovative solutions for telehealth and remote working and learning.
Start-ups in the Mena region secured more than $1 billion in funding last year, with e-commerce and FinTech retaining their top spots by number of deals.
The two sectors represented 24 per cent of all deals in 2020, according to data platform Magnitt.
In Dubai, the DIFC set up an innovation licence to encourage international FinTechs to move to the free zone.
The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia accounted for 68 per cent of total Mena deals disclosed last year. The UAE received the largest share of funds raised and was ranked first by deal numbers, the report showed.
Start-ups in the UAE attracted more than half of the total venture capital into the region and more than a quarter of Mena deals.