Dubai remains world leader for FDI in tourism


Dubai has retained its top rank worldwide for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into tourism in 2021.

With AED 6.4 billion in FDI across 30 FDI projects during the year, Dubai ranked number one in FDI capital, projects, and job creation in the tourism sector in 2021, according to The Financial Times’ fDi Markets data, a leading global data source on crossborder greenfield FDI investments.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, credited the exceptional leadership and visionary policies of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for Dubai’s remarkable achievements and its status as the world’s leading tourism FDI destination in a challenging year for the sector globally.

Sheikh Hamdan expressed his gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's vision for creating a resilient financial, economic, and social ecosystem that has set a template for others to emulate, noting that Dubai’s rank as the top FDI destination for tourism reaffirms the sector’s role as a key economic driver that offers international investors confidence and an exceptional opportunity for stable and sustainable returns.

He explained that Dubai’s enabling infrastructure, business-friendly policies, and flexible regulatory environment that kept pace with the needs of global investors would keep it at the forefront of the world’s FDI destinations, adding that Dubai’s world-class infrastructure and exceptional services to investors reinforce its strategy to become the world’s best city to live in, work, and visit.

The city rankings of ‘fDi Markets’ are based on investment destinations that attract 10 or more greenfield FDI projects in a year. Dubai’s tourism sector attracted AED 6.4 billion (US$1.7 billion) in FDI across 30 FDI projects in 2021. The new investments and projects generated 5,545 new jobs during the year, according to the Dubai FDI Monitor report, published by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

The FDI performance capped a momentous year for Dubai. In 2021, the city led a resurgence in global travel and tourism after COVID-19, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the UAE, and welcomed the world to Expo 2020 Dubai while emerging as one of the safest destinations in the world.

The year also marked a successful five-year period during which Dubai stayed ahead of leading international cities, including London, Paris and Shanghai, in attracting FDI into tourism. Dubai’s tourism sector attracted AED 83.5 billion (US$22.8 billion) in FDI capital across 205 FDI projects during 2017-21, generating 30,082 new jobs.

Dubai welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors in 2021, representing a 32 per cent year-over-year growth, and underscoring the city’s efforts to become the world’s most visited destination.

The exceptional success of Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest global event of its kind that attracted more than 24 million visitors, followed Dubai’s achievement in being selected as the world’s most popular destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General, DET, said, "Dubai has created a unique tourism proposition in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to promote Dubai as the most sought-after global city and the most attractive location to live, work, visit and invest. While consolidating its advantages as a well-connected hub with world-class infrastructure, attractions and lifestyle, Dubai also launched concerted efforts in key source markets to showcase its capabilities in enabling business growth and as a leading global tourism centre. Dubai’s top rank reflects the effectiveness of the multi-geographic campaigns and its diversified offering across sectors."

The strong investor interest in Dubai’s tourism sector complemented Dubai’s net gains as an investment destination in 2021. The value of total FDI capital flows into all sectors in Dubai exceeded AED 26 billion from 618 announced FDI projects in 2021, with a growth rate of 5.5 per cent compared to 2020.

"Rapid and effective measures adopted in the face of the pandemic contributed substantially to positioning Dubai as the destination of choice for global investors. Foreign investment flowing into Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors and spurring the development of new attractions and destinations are a testament to the sustainability and attractiveness of Dubai’s economy and the confidence the city encourages among residents, visitors and the global investor community. The new policies and legislation being adopted to align the UAE economy with global developments and the long-term residency being offered to investors and entrepreneurs will see Dubai and its tourism sector sustaining the FDI momentum through to 2022 and beyond," Almarri added.

The year 2021 witnessed the most extensive legislative change in the history of the UAE, with more than 40 laws in all fields updated and reformed to accelerate ease of business and ensure hassle-free entry for investors. A five-year multi-entry visa was introduced for employees of multinational companies in 2021, adding to previously launched initiatives. These included the popular Golden Visa initiative targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents, and the Virtual Working and Retire in Dubai Programmes.

Fahad Al Gergawi, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai FDI, said the sustained flow of international investments into tourism reinforces Dubai’s status as a magnet for global talent. "Dubai’s top ranking in terms of jobs created by FDI into tourism proves that the exemplary investment environment developed by the city will continue to attract, retain, and grow financial as well as human capital."

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan will further reinforce Dubai’s reputation as a global destination for business, investment, and tourism. Dubai 2040 is a comprehensive roadmap aimed at aligning strategic economic priorities and future needs with sustainable development, enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors.

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