(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.
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.
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.”