Dubai – a city on the rise

Wednesday 04 April 2018

By Nick Edmunds, Chief Operating Officer, Links Group - An Equiom Company

The government of Dubai recently reported figures for foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016, stating that the city had attracted $6.9billion. This ranks Dubai as the seventh largest recipient in the world for foreign investment. Nick Edmunds, Chief Operating Officer at Links Group talks about the figures and how they contribute to Dubai’s future as a leading international business centre.

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) approaches its fifth decade since independence and Dubai prepares to act as host city for Expo 2020 it would be fair to conclude that the transformation from sleepy backwater to an important focal point for international business is nearly complete. However, this would be a serious underestimation of the ambition of this city.

Of course Dubai has faced its challenges. The 2008/9 economic crisis is not only well documented but it has left a legacy of caution amongst lenders and the spectre of over-extension is quick to raise its head and reduce market confidence in key sectors with little warning.  However a world leading airline, the world’s busiest airport, the largest marine terminal in the Middle East and a regulatory and tax environment specifically designed to encourage foreign investors seem to have helped Dubai weather this storm. Despite the headwinds and continued regional instability, economic growth is due to continue at about 3.5% through 2018. Dubai Economy, the governmental trade licensing authority, points to some 150,000 registered companies operating in Dubai alone, increasing at a rate of almost 20,000 per year (19,877 in 2017) as signs of that continued growth. Many other indicators such as crane counts, new houses being built and G2G confirmation of Expo participation provide more evidence of this.  

At Links Group, where we celebrate our 15 year anniversary in 2018, we continue to work closely with both foreign investors and our partners in Dubai FDI and are seeing both the positives and negatives of this situation. Some of our more entrepreneurial clients, particularly those serving markets driven by discretionary spend, are finding times tough and we are working to support them, but the overwhelming positive is that mature investors continue to find quality opportunities in the UAE and the wider region. Fortunately, our owners and partners really understand what it means to embrace innovation and we are finding that understanding client intent and supporting that with value added services is paying dividends and opening up new opportunities.


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