Dubai private sector trade with Libya, Iraq soars

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Dubai Chamber director general Hamad Buamim.

Dubai Chamber director general Hamad Buamim.

After a topsy-turvy year in which trade was largely dictated by geopolitics, Dubai’s overall exports and re-exports from the private sector rose by 9 percent in 2012, according to data for the Dubai Chamber. 

The biggest losers were Iran and Syria, both of which saw their trade with the emirate dip by more than 50 percent. 

More than making up the shortfall were Iraq, where exports and re-exports from Dubai rose by more 350 percent to value US$11.4bn; Libya, where the increase was 300 percent; and Turkey, where trade doubled.

The overall value of private-sector trade out of Dubai amounted to US$73bn, up 9 percent on last year, and 26 percent higher than the peak year of 2008.

Membership of the Dubai Chamber – which is mandatory for all private-sector firms based in the emirate – also rose by 9 percent to 140,000, with more than 12,700 new companies moving to the emirate last year.

Dubai accounts for 75 percent of the UAE’s private-sector trade, added Hamad Buamim, the Dubai Chamber’s director general. Around 70 percent of goods imported into the emirate are re-exported.

“We’ve seen more of a focus on services, healthcare, trade and commerce – these are all still major sectors,” Buamim told reporters. “Real estate is coming back, and there are more lawyers too.”

“We are seeing a big spillover from the Saudi budgets [which reached a record US$223bn for 2013] and that’s going into tourism, business and real estate. The Saudis are coming, enjoying their time, spending more and doing a good job.”

While 2012 official GDP figures have not yet been released, Dubai announced at the end of December that it was raising its budgetary spending by almost 6 percent this year, to US$9.3bn. Revenues are projected to increase by nearly 8 percent to $8.9bn. 

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