The United Arab Emirates’ economy expanded 7.6 percent last year, a senior official said on Thursday, about double the rise in gross domestic product (GDP) recorded in 2021 as the Gulf state rebounded sharply from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While higher energy prices supported economic growth across the Gulf region’s oil exporters last year, a slowdown is forecast this year with a more uncertain oil price outlook and a challenging global macroeconomic environment.
The UAE aims to double the size of its economy by 2031 and diversify away from hydrocarbons.
“In order to do that, we need 7 percent GDP growth every year,” UAE minister of economy Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Investopia conference in Abu Dhabi.
“This will come in with all the strategies we have put in place: the impact of the trade agreements, the openness to trade…the aspects of investments seen recently, into the energy transition, for instance, into green hydrogen,” he said.
The UAE’s foreign trade hit 2.2 trillion dirhams ($599 billion) in 2022, up 17 percent year on year, and it has signed bilateral trade agreements with global partners spanning India, Israel and Indonesia. Talks with Turkey, and others, are underway.
The UAE will also host the UN’s flagship COP28 climate conference at the end of the year.
“The UAE’s strategy is an agile strategy…we are going to see challenges come in to the economy quicker and faster,” al-Marri said.
“And we need to find solutions not in government but with the private sector, they have a lot of solutions to these kinds of challenges.”
He added that the re-opening of the Chinese economy could play a “big role” in reducing inflation around the globe, especially on goods and products coming from China, one of the UAE’s biggest trade partners.
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