High Technology leads FDI Flows into Dubai


Dubai ranks first globally in the share of FDI in technology transfer

The digital transformation of international production, coupled with Dubai’s on-going transformation into a knowledge-based economy have reshaped both the source and the composition of the flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Dubai.

The last three years have witnessed investors from the European Union and the United States outstripping all others in both, the number of projects they have initiated –355 and 213 projects, respectively, and in the capital investments they have realized, US$ 5,738 and 3,990 billion, respectively (Table 1). During the period 2015 – 1st quarter 2018, investors from the EU and the US have launched 66% of the total number of projects in Dubai, contributed 45% to the total FDI flows into Dubai (Figure 1), and created 28,241 new jobs.

Table 1. FDI Flows into Dubai, January 2015 – March 2018

Region Number of Projects Capex (USD m) Number of Jobs
European Union 355 $5,738            17,754
United States 213 $3,990            10,487
Asia Pacific 172 $5,552            12,595
Other 69 $2,607              7,342
GCC 29 $3,244              4,288
Africa 22 $530              1,700
Total 860 $21,660.63     54,166


Source: Financial Times, fDI Markets Data

Figure 1. Source of FDI Flows into Dubai, January 2015 – March 2018

Importantly, these investments have ushered in a new era of sustainable economic growth in Dubai driven by higher productivity growth. Close to 60% of the total capex FDI into Dubai during the last three years have been realized in medium to high-tech sectors, and these have consequently earned the Emirate the top rank globally in 2018 in the share of FDI in technology transfer like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics (Financial Times – fDi Markets Data & fDi Benchmark Study). This transformation has created new opportunities for business, and boosted Dubai’s competitiveness across all sectors.

These achievements are in line with Dubai 2021 Plan that embodies His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoom, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai vision to transform Dubai into a “smart city” where innovation and digitization play a critical role in driving economic growth in a sustainable manner. Today, Smart Dubai boasts AI-enabled services, including most notably “Rashid” that responds to investors and entrepreneurs questions in audio format or in writing and receive the most relevant and up-to-date information on business licenses procedures and fees as well as step-by-step instructions on setting up a business.

The new investment law that will allow 100% foreign ownership, and the new 10 year visas for international investors/innovators, skilled professionals and exceptional students that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoom, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has announced on April 15 2018, are expected to further boost FDI inflows by as much as 15% per year, especially in high tech activities. The impact of these and other initiatives will be featured in the upcoming Dubai Investment Week scheduled to take place in Dubai during the period 7 to 11 October 2018.

DED and its agency Dubai FDI will continue their efforts in attracting and facilitating technology-intensive FDI into Dubai through strategic alliances and partnerships with the world’s leading firms and investment promotion agencies, business councils and entrepreneurs.


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