The real estate sector and other key industries welcomed generous investments in 2015

The UAE maintained its position as a top investment destination for Gulf citizens in 2015 for both real estate and new businesses, according to a report released by the UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) on Tuesday.

Last year, 1,899 new licences were granted to GCC citizens to practise economic activities, leading to a total of 19,803 licences by the end of 2015.
Commercial licences accounted for most economic activities at 78.1 per cent, while professional licences provided to GCC citizens represented 15.6 per cent.

Real estate activity also witnessed an increase in 2015, with 4,964 new real estate registration for GCC citizens. Of these, 3,290 were residential ownerships, accounting for 66.3 per cent, while 1,484 were commercial, representing 29.9 per cent in 2015.

Gulf banks operating within the UAE touched 10 branches, including four branches owned by Kuwait. The number of listed companies in the Securities and Commodities Authority allowing GCC citizens to trade hit 86, representing 78.2 per cent of the total registered companies in 2015.

The total number of Gulf investors witnessed some fluctuation over the past years, where it dropped to 196,044 in 2015 as a result of economic conditions. However, the decline did not affect GCC citizens’ investments in capital. Capital in public listed companies that allow GCC citizens to trade increased from Dh149 billion in 2014 to Dh167 billion in 2015.

The volume of direct GCC imports to the UAE amounted to Dh12.4 billion during the first nine months of 2015. The UAE’s direct exports to other GCC member states amounted to Dh32.16 billion, while UAE’s re-exports amounted to Dh24.6 billion during the first nine months of 2015.

In 2015, the number of industrial establishments operating in the UAE amounted to 89, with 46 establishments for Saudi Arabia representing the largest share (51.7 per cent); 13 for Oman (14.6 per cent) followed by 13.5 per cent for Kuwait, 11.2 per cent for Bahrain and nine per cent for Qatar.

The volume of Gulf industrial investment in the UAE amounted to Dh4.31 billion in 2015 and is distributed across different sectors, including: Dh1.8 billion for non-metallic mining industry (41.8 per cent), Dh690 million for metal products (16.1 per cent), Dh410 million for food and beverage industry (9.4 per cent), followed by the chemical industry (6.5 per cent), machinery and equipment industry (6.1 per cent) as well as the paper and paper product industry (5.6 per cent).

Public and private sectors
The number of GCC citizens working in the federal government sector reached 964, while the number of GCC citizens working in the local government sector reached 815 in 2015. The number of GCC citizens working in the private sector amounted to 1,286 in 2015.

The number of GCC tourists witnessed a remarkable growth between 2010 and 2015, with a total of 4.18 million in 2015 and a compound annual growth rate of 66.2 per cent. Saudi tourists accounted for 45.7 per cent of the total, 32.9 per cent by Omani tourists, 11.9 per cent by Kuwaiti tourists, while Qataris accounted for 5.6 per cent and Bahrainis for 3.9 per cent.