According to recent findings by international property agents Knight Frank, Dubai is ranked top among the best places in the world to relocate because of the presence of international schools, sunny weather and various leisure pursuits. Dubai offers not only the best lifestyle but also some of the best investment opportunities in the Middle East. The Emirati city also accounted for almost 90% of the Dhs32.9billion ($8.9billion) foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into the UAE in 2012.
Dubai has transformed itself from dependence on oil and gas revenue to a leading business centre and regional hub in the Gulf. With a world-class banking and financial industry and is continuing to attract financial institutions from across the world. Many international banks have established presence there to serve the needs of the expatriate community and investors. The ease of setting up a current or savings account here has enabled expatriates to access money as soon as they arrive in Dubai and transfer money between international accounts. There has also been an expansion of sophisticated financing products to cater to the corporate sector.
Meanwhile, Dubai’s property market has been booming and is the largest real estate market for expats in the Gulf. A growing population and rising employment levels are driving demand for real estate. Property purchase in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by expats topped £1.7 billion in 2012. Expats are buying property in the Middle East as an investment as well as to improve their chances of obtaining a residence permit. Mark Scott, CEO of overseas property specialist Select Property, told The Telegraph that the average value of real estate in desirable areas like Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai and The Palm islands is set to increase further in the future.
Another promising industry for investors is tourism. Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020 sets out how Dubai will double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020, thus making the construction of additional hotels and other tourism and leisure facilities of utmost urgency. The cruise business is set to expand in the 2013/14 season and the UAE government is making significant investment in infrastructure for cruise tourism. As the cruise hub of the region and home port for the world’s leading cruise lines such as Costa, Aida and Royal Carribean, Dubai has the infrastructure and services to service the largest facility in the Middle East.
Improved telecommunication infrastructure has resulted in a growing base of shoppers buying online. The UAE ranked 25th spot in the world in a ranking by A.T. Kearney. Compared to developed countries like the US (1) and France (1), mobile phones per capita is much higher in the UAE (1.7). Considering the increasing number of consumers in the UAE using their mobile phones to conduct research on products, compare products and prices and exchange input with friends on social media, Dubai could be an idea place to set up a media or software company.
There are many factors that attract investors and businesses alike to Dubai, including strong government policies, world-class infrastructure and proximity to major markets in the Middle East and Africa. What’s more, free trade zones such as Dubai Airport Freezone and Dubai Multi Commodities Freezone (DMCC) offer a range of incentives for foreign traders, including 100% foreign-ownership, with tax and duty exemption. It’s no surprise that the city is still ranking highly when it comes to living and working abroad.
Image by Jon Rawlinson, used under Creative Comms license