By Y-Sing Liau and Nopporn Wong-Anan
Central bank boss says infrastructure projects will drive growth over next two years.
The UAE's economy will grow at a pace of around 4 percent this year and next on the back of big infrastructure projects, its central bank chief said on Monday.
Last month, the government had projected growth of around 3.2 percent in 2010.
"The UAE economy will grow in 2010 and 2011 at an expected range of roughly 4 percent," central bank Governor Nasser Al Suweidi told an Islamic finance conference in Singapore.
"The UAE is embarking on a few landmark projects like the Emirates railway, nuclear power generation for peaceful users and marine transportation network to service the region."
These projects would help to diversify its economy.
Suweidi also said the economy contracted 2.1 percent at current prices in 2009 with gross domestic product reaching AED932.6 billion ($254 billion). He did not give the 2009 GDP growth in real terms.
The UAE statistics office said GDP grew 3.2 percent in current prices in 2009 and put the nominal GDP at AED914.3 billion.
The UAE economy ministry said last month the world's third-largest oil exporter grew by real 1.3 percent in 2009, although analysts have estimated a contraction of 1.4 percent as the crisis made the Gulf country slash its crude output, froze credit growth and Dubai construction projects worth billions of dollars were put on hold or cancelled.
The economy is expected to lag its Gulf peers this year as banks in the world's third-largest oil exporter remain reluctant to lend following a Dubai debt restructuring.
Its banking system had weathered the financial crisis well as total assets to liabilities grew 4.2 percent to AED1.5 trillion, he said.
"The UAE is well-placed to take advantage of any growth in the economies of the countries in the region," Al Suweidi said.
Assets and liabilities of Islamic banks in the United Arab Emirates grew 6.5 percent in 2009, deposits grew 9.5 percent, while loans and advances rose about 5.5 percent, he said. (Reuters)