UAE shows resilience with strong economy


Khalaf Al Habtoor remains positive on UAE outlook following a strong start to the year

The UAE has a promising future ahead and the emirate proved its resilience once again by successfully handling serious challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an industry veteran.


Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group, appreciated the UAE leadership for handling the pandemic with extraordinary measures that paves the way for quick economic turnaround of the country.

Referring to the latest data published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), STR, and the Central Bank of the UAE, Al Habtoor said his earlier predictions for UAE economic growth in 2021 have ‘exceeded expectations’ as the UAE successfully navigates the challenges.

“The UAE has once again shown its resilience. My country’s ability to navigate the challenges around Covid-19 is highly commendable,” Al Habtoor said in a statement to Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

He said global economic growth was already on the decline in all regions of the world in 2019, and Covid added significant pressure. However, the economic recovery in the UAE has been on the upward trajectory since the third quarter of last year.

“We continue to see pockets of positive growth, and as a result, real GDP is forecast to hit, or exceed, 3 per cent this year,” said Al Habtoor, who successfully operates one of the largest privately-owned business conglomerates in the region.

Promising growth outlook

The IMF has forecasted in its World Economic Outlook the UAE economy to grow 3.1 per cent in 2021, observing that the global growth outlook “hinges on how effectively economic policies deployed under high uncertainty can limit lasting damage from the crisis”.

The UAE central bank is forecasting further growth next year with the UAE’s economy seen climbing to 3.5 per cent in 2022.

About the diverse industries that Al Habtoor Group operates, the founding chairman said the first quarter of 2021 has seen extensive growth in the real estate division of the group, achieving a significant surge in the volume of sales compared to the same time before Covid.

Dubai real estate transactions soared 27 per cent and 47 per cent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to same period last year and 2019, respectively; surpassing pre-Covid transactions and suggesting that confidence is restored, according to the Real Estate Bulletin issued by the Dubai Land Department.

“All our hotels in the UAE are performing extremely well. We have witnessed a very healthy first quarter and are expecting a great second half of the year. Our base business for the remainder of 2021 is very solid with high occupancy rates already achieved,” Al Habtoor said.

In its latest report, hospitality data and analytics specialist, STR showed a rebound in hotel occupancy rates in the UAE in the first quarter of 2021, particularly in Dubai, which recorded the highest occupancy rates in the world in March. The report showed Dubai occupancy rates rose to more than 60 per cent in March 2021, one of the strongest performance markets in the world.

“This healthy performance is reflected in all the sectors of business we are operating in, including our automotive and car leasing divisions,” Al Habtoor said.

“Consumers are spending again, and confidence has returned in the UAE,” he added.

“This good performance in first quarter of 2021 is only the beginning. I am expecting double-digit growth across the board in our group. With more than 10.66 million people vaccinated in the country, we are well on the way to returning to normal life. Proving one more time that the United Arab Emirates is the safest place on earth for businesses and investors,” Al Habtoor concluded.