DUBAI, (AFP) — The Dubai economy is growing at a five percent rate, less than in previous years but ahead of the most cautious forecasts, the head of a government economic committee said on Friday.
“Yes, we are affected by what is going in the world but we are confident in the stability of the city,” Mohammad Alabbar, also chairman of construction giant Emaar, told a World Economic Forum conference in the emirate.
“Last year we were all in the eye of the storm. The past 12 months have been quite painful months,” he said.
“GDP growth is now five percent. We used to have a growth of 14 percent (so) this isn’t bad news, but it’s not as good as before,” said Alabbar, whose committee is tasked with helping Dubai counter the impact of the global economic crisis.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted GDP growth of about 3.5 percent this year for the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, down from the 7.4 percent achieved in 2008.
Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, in a speech officially opening the conference, was upbeat about the future.
“Our economy is humming again this year. And compared to most international growth rates, the UAE is showing a healthy economic resurgence,” he said in a speech.
Alabbar denied reports of a mass exodus of expatriate workers from Dubai. In the past 12 months “400,000 people have come to live in Dubai,” he said, while refusing to put a figure on the number who have left.
The 2006 census put Dubai’s overall population at 1.4 million.
Alabbar said an announcement is likely in the next few days on the proposed merger between Emaar and other state-linked companies Dubai Properties, Sama Dubai and Tatweer.
Last month Emaar announced a net profit of 655 million dirhams (178 million dollars) in the third quarter from a loss of 1.285 billion dirhams (350 million dollars) in the three months to June.
The Dubai property sector, in which Emaar is the biggest operator, was badly affected by the international crisis, as property prices plunged by 50 percent from their peak.