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Dubai set out a 32 trillion dirham ($8.7 trillion) economic plan on Wednesday that includes doubling foreign trade and investment over the next decade to boost its standing as a global financial hub.
The emirate, part of the United Arab Emirates’ federation, is the Middle East’s business and finance centre. It has already been deepening trade routes and working to attract global firms as it faces growing regional competition.
Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, tweeted that foreign trade is targeted to reach 25.6 trillion dirhams by 2033 as the city adds to its global partners.
Dubai is also seeking to attract foreign direct investment of around 60 billion dirhams annually.
Dubai’s economy continued its post-pandemic recovery in 2022 and grew an annual 4.6% in the first nine months of last year.
But its plan for longer-term growth comes as economists forecast a grim global outlook. The International Monetary Fund expects one third of the world economy to be in recession this year, with the US, Europe and China all slowing down simultaneously.
The emirate is seeking to boost its manufacturing and logistics sector as part of the plan. Government spending will rise to 700 billion dirhams over the next 10 years from 512 billion dirhams the decade before.
The city has been the region’s commercial capital for more than a decade, but Saudi Arabia is also seeking to expand its role as a business and trade hub under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 development plan.
Dubai has adopted legal changes and loosened social restrictions to retain its allure to foreign investors and talent.
It kicked off the year by scrapping a 30% tax on alcohol. Last year the UAE ended a ban on unmarried couples living together and moved to a Monday-Friday working week.
It also introduced visas to allow foreigners to work, live and study without needing a sponsor.
While favourable immigration policies and regulation makes it easy for firms to set up business in the city, they also come with risks.
Dubai is coming under increasing international scrutiny after it attracted crypto heavyweights and Russia’s wealthy individuals, as other jurisdictions increasingly sanction and shun them.