Dubai retains position as world's top destination for tourism FDI in 2021

Emirate attracted $1.7bn in foreign direct investment across 30 projects last year, report finds

New investments and projects in Dubai's tourism sector generated 5,545 new jobs last year. Photo: Palace Downtown
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Dubai retained its position as the world's top destination for foreign direct investment into the tourism sector in 2021, a report has found.

The emirate attracted Dh6.4 billion ($1.7bn) in FDI across 30 projects last year, claiming the top rank in FDI capital, projects and job creation in the tourism sector, according to The Financial Times’ fDi Markets data.

The new investments and projects generated 5,545 new jobs during the year, according to the Dubai FDI Monitor report, published by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI).

“Dubai’s rank as the top FDI destination for tourism is a testament to the sector’s resilience and stability. It reaffirms the sector’s role as a key economic driver that offers international investors confidence and an exceptional opportunity for stable and sustainable returns,” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said on Twitter.

Dubai hosted 7.28 million international overnight visitors in 2021, a 32 per cent increase on the previous year as the city pursues its goal to become the world’s most visited destination.

Business activity in Dubai's non-oil private sector economy maintained a robust speed of expansion in June, improving at the quickest pace in three years, as new orders rose sharply despite inflationary pressures.

The headline seasonally adjusted S&P Global Dubai Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 56.1 in June from 55.7 in May to its highest reading since June 2019.

The travel and tourism sector remained the key driver of growth in the emirate. Businesses reported a marked rise in tourism-related business activity in Dubai, the Middle East's commercial and tourism hub, as travel restrictions continued to ease around the world.

Dubai has also stayed ahead of “leading international cities, including London, Paris and Shanghai” in attracting FDI into tourism during the last five years, the report said.

The emirate's tourism sector registered Dh83.5bn in FDI capital across 205 FDI projects between 2017-2021, generating 30,082 new jobs.

“While consolidating its advantages as a well-connected hub with world-class infrastructure, attractions and lifestyle, Dubai also launched concerted efforts in key source markets to showcase its capabilities in enabling business growth and as a leading global tourism centre,” Helal Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), said.

“Dubai’s top rank reflects the effectiveness of the multi-geographic campaigns and its diversified offering across sectors.”

The value of total FDI capital flows into all sectors in Dubai exceeded Dh26bn from 618 announced FDI projects in 2021, growing by 5.5 per cent from 2020, the report said.

“The new policies and legislation being adopted to align the UAE economy with global developments and the long-term residency being offered to investors and entrepreneurs will see Dubai and its tourism sector sustaining the FDI momentum through to 2022 and beyond,” Mr Almarri said.

Dubai introduced a five-year multi-entry visa for multinational companies' employees in 2021, adding to previously launched initiatives such as Golden Visa initiative targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents. It also introduced the Virtual Working and Retire in Dubai programmes.

“Dubai’s top ranking in terms of jobs created by FDI into tourism proves that the exemplary investment environment developed by the city will continue to attract, retain, and grow financial as well as human capital,” Fahad Al Gergawi, chief executive of Dubai FDI, said.

Updated: July 17, 2022, 8:35 PM