Dubai’s Economy Explained in Five Charts

dubai city
Residential and commercial skyscrapers stand along the coastline in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will issue its first competitive tender for partners to explore for and develop oil and natural gas as the government-owned producer seeks new ways to increase production in the United Arab Emirates. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Dubai’s $108 billion economy is still eking out growth, but distress is increasingly felt far beyond its bellwether property industry.

Despite the emirate’s standing as the Middle East’s commercial hub, businesses are pulling up stakes and private schools are suffering from tepid growth in student numbers. Dubai’s gross domestic product last year expanded at the weakest clip since 2010.

Read: Dubai’s Long-Awaited Stats Showed Weakest Economy Since 2010

Figures published on Dubai’s statistics center website paint a picture of an economy still struggling to find its footing last year despite an improving outlook for crude.

As business owners turn downbeat, broadband connections are one area where the change in mood is evident.


Dubai’s education industry, hobbled by oversupply, is another market under strain. A report by Knight Frank in December said the sector is at a “ tipping point.” Despite a government-imposed freeze on school-fee hikes, the number of students enrolled in private institutions grew in 2018 at the slowest pace in at least seven years.

No industry is feeling the pain more than real estate as a property glut shows no sign of easing. An index tracking the city’s real estate and construction stocks lost almost 40 percent last year.

Even tourism, a key part of Dubai’s economy, is no longer immune, with visitor numbers almost stagnant since 2017.

“Dubai’s economy is still growing but the pace is easing,” said Ziad Daoud, chief Mideast economist at Bloomberg in Dubai. “The slowdown, which began with the fall in oil prices in 2014, has continued unabated through 2018.”

With assistance from Filipe Pacheco. To contact the reporters on this story: Abeer Abu Omar in Dubai at [email protected]; Matthew Martin in Dubai at [email protected]

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