Nearly 47 contracts worth more than Dh11 billion ($3 billion) will be awarded this year for projects at the Dubai Expo 2020 site alone in preparations for a first-of-its-kind event in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, said a top government official.
The Public-Private Partnership Law passed in 2015 has further stimulated greater private sector involvement in Dubai’s construction market, remarked Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai World.
The transportation industry, he stated, will be a key driver for construction sector growth as large investment projects are moving forward, including the Etihad Rail project, the Dubai Metro extension project and the expansion of the container port in Jebel Ali capitalising on the emirate’s role as a major logistics hub between three continents and its geographical location that links major trade routes.
"Large investments in travel, tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors will continue to attract more visitors, in line with our strategy to welcome 20 million visitors by 2020," Sheikh Ahmed added.
According to him, the continuous improvements in the routes, capacity, frequency, quality of service, and competitiveness of air and sea access has brought 15 million overnight visitors to Dubai during 2016, up five per cent compared to the previous year.
The GCC, India, UK and Germany, the traditional source markets, account for 40 per cent of Dubai's total visitors, stated Sheikh Ahmed, also the chairman and CEO of Emirates Group.
The average spending per visitor has increased to Dh8,658 in 2016 from Dh8.252 the previous year. Total spending grew by 7.6 per cent reaching Dh126 billion, while the average length of stay per visitor was seven days, he noted.
"This is especially good compared to the four per cent growth in global tourism, and the decline of four per cent in the Middle East tourism sector, according to the World Tourism Organization," he added.
Sheikh Ahmed said trade accounted for 28 per cent of Dubai’s GDP in 2016 followed by transportation and storage at 12 per cent and financial services at 11 per cent.
The local tourism sector grew by 11 per cent last year, and is expected to record further growth in the coming years, growing at 5 per cent and 5.1 per cent in 2017 and 2018, respectively, he added.
The real estate sector is projected to grow by 4.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively in 2017 and 2018, while the manufacturing sector is anticipated to grow by 3.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent this year and next, underpinned by the Dubai Industrial Strategy.
"Dubai is playing a major and increasingly sophisticated role in regional and global value chains through transport, distribution, marketing services and R&D," added Sheikh Ahmed.
The UAE climbed 13 places in the World Bank Doing Business Report between 2014 and 2017 and now stands at 26 among 190 economies and first in the Arab world.
The Global Entrepreneurship Index, which measures the health of the entrepreneurship ecosystems in 137 countries annually, placed the UAE 19th in the world and again, first in the Arab world.