UAE's economy the big winner in 2012
The Arab uprisings changed the course of investments in the Middle East and North Africa.
The investment map saw dramatic changes as many upper class citizens from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, have escaped the turmoil in their countries to settle in the more politically stable Gulf countries.
UAE’s political stability, modern infrastructure and plethora of Free Zones made the Gulf country emerge as the economic victor, while Arab Spring-hit countries, embroiled with unrest, bore the greatest burdens.
UAE’s real estate sector, which was experiencing a decline in prices, is witnessing a steady recovery due to the wave of expats from Arab Spring countries.
The UAE has welcomed Syrian embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s sister, Bushra, who fled the country to come to Dubai with her children in September.
Former Egyptian Prime Minister and presidential contender Ahmed Shafiq, who is currently facing corruption charges in Egypt, is also residing in Abu Dhabi.
Villa prices in Dubai increased almost by 20 percent in the first nine months of 2012, making the Emirate the second best performing market of the 26 international cities tracked for ratings.
Saudis who have long favored Egypt as tourism destination switched to the UAE, thereby boosting the country’s tourism and services industries.
Egypt is no longer the favorite tourism hub for Saudis, the U.A.E. is now the new destination for citizens of the kingdom. This has had a significant impact on the Emirate’s economy.
Dubai Airport statistics showed passenger numbers rose by 12.8 percent while neighboring Abu Dhabi International Airport registered a rise of 14.5 percent.
While the UAE reaped some benefits from the Arab uprisings, the country is waiting for the Arab Spring countries’ situation to settle before planning any solid investment projects there.
There were no major news of UAE investments in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya.
But on October 2012, two UAE real estate developers, Al-Futaim and Emaar Properties, announced a $5 billion project in Egypt, indicating a sign of revival of cross-border investment in the region.
Acquisition also appealed for the country.
Arqaam Capital, a UAE-based emerging markets investment bank, announced in October an agreement to acquire Libyan financial services firm, Al-Rashad Finance.
Overall, in 2012, cash-rich Gulf investors were waiting for the situation in the Arab Spring countries to stabilize. Until then, investors will remain vigilant on whether they will pour their investments ardently in countries that need utmost help.