UAE sets up special unit to lure foreign investors

UAE sets up special unit to lure foreign investors
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Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates announced Tuesday the establishment of a special unit at the economy ministry to help lure foreign investors amid an economic slowdown.

The establishment of the foreign direct investment unit was ordered by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in a decree.

The order stipulates that foreign investment firms which secure licences under the decree will be treated like national companies, significantly cutting back red tape.

Last year the UAE attracted more than $10 billion in foreign direct investment, continuing a trend in recent years of having the largest FDI inflows among all Arab states.

The presidential decree aims to go further still, with the new unit to propose policies to improve the investment environment and attract more FDI.

The measure by the Middle East’s second largest economy after Saudi Arabia comes amid a slowdown in the oil, tourism and real estate sectors.

In May the UAE announced new incentives to lure foreign investors, granting 100 percent ownership of companies and a 10-year visa for professionals and investors.

The following month Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, announced a 50 billion dirham ($13.6 billion, 11.6 billion euro) stimulus package over the next three years.

Although the UAE has the most diversified economy in the Gulf, it remains highly dependent on oil revenues.

Growth fell to just 0.5 percent last year, down from 3.0 percent in 2016 according to the International Monetary Fund, driven by a 2.5 percent contraction in the oil sector.

Abu Dhabi’s economy contracted by 1.6 percent last year and was projected to grow by just 0.5 percent in 2018.

The IMF has forecast growth of 2.9 percent for the UAE this year, followed by 3.7 percent for 2019.