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2015: the year ahead

Hisham Farouk Hisham Farouk

The UAE has continued to drive change in the region and has remained extremely buoyant during the course of 2014.  It has one of the most stable economies in the world and has witnessed remarkable growth which continues to position it high in terms of global competitiveness, according to reports by specialized regional and international organizations (emirates247, 2014). 

I have already shared how the UAE is making its mark on the global map, but what does 2015 have in store for the economy? What are the current predications and could this be one of the most momentous years to date in terms of the economic landscape which continues to change the market?

When looking at the real estate and construction sector, it is evident that after facing a slowdown in the course of the global financial crisis in 2008 and with the current retrieval in GCC economies, the UAE construction industry is anticipated to show growth prospects. Construction as a percentage of GDP of the UAE reached 10.6 per cent in 2008 and 10.3 per cent in 2011 while for 2015 the sector’s contribution as a percentage of UAE GDP is projected to record 11.1 per cent (emirates247, 2012).

It is predicated, that the growth of Dubai's residential real estate market is expected to peak in 2015, however it will not go through the same intense pitfall that was seen in 2008 and 2009. The UAE’s increasing population will guarantee strong demand for properties in the anticipatable future, further promoting grow within the real estate & construction sector. 

In other news, it has also been reported that almost half of the UAE’s 49.1 billion dirhams federal budget for 2015 will be spent on social sectors like health, education and social services further promoting growth within the public sector. The Council of Ministers approved the 2015 budget, which saw an increase of 2.9 billion dirhams, or 6.3 percent, from the financial year 2014 (as stated on Arabian Business).

Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted in its Financial Stability report 2014, that the UAE would uphold a surplus in its government budget from 2014 to 2019, at rates ranging from 6.9 percent to 10.5 percent of the GDP. 

When we look at developments within leisure and hospitality, the current unveiling of a large number of exciting new developments signifies that Dubai is on the right track to attain tourism targets of 15 million tourists per year by 2015. 

As part of its vision and mission and in agreement with Dubai’s 2015 strategy, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has established a training solutions centre for excellence to develop world-class human resources at all levels of the travel and tourism industry in the emirates (dubaitourism, 2014). The DTCM will also be providing the hospitality industry with a monitoring system that will help the sector in gauging the emission of CO2 and will help them in making decisions to cut down emissions and compare their performance to international best practice, further promoting sustainability.

With the Expo 2020 set to come to the UAE in five years from 2015, the leisure and hospitality sector will continue to see a number of key developments and investment, with some of the largest international hotelier brands now being based in the UAE. This will continue to support economic diversification, along with further supporting the UAE to become the central hub of the Middle East which is known internationally for innovation, excellence and the investors market of choice.

Taking the above into consideration, 2015 looks set to become another memorable year for the country with increased investment and external interest. As we approach the New Year, I believe that optimism within the region has continued to remain high despite the recent fluctuations within the oil prices. This further supports the fact that the UAE continues to successfully diversify within various other industries apart from the once buoyant oil & gas sector, which is essential to promote sustainability, longevity and safeguard the people, economy and future of the country.