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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 08/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The UAE economy is expected to grow three per cent in the year 2012 despite global economic uncertainty and a recent dip in oil prices, a top economic manager said.

"We have put the crisis behind us. Preparing for the next phase of development, we have managed to successfully forge ahead with new plans and strategies," said Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Economy, in a keynote speech at the Standard and Poor's Leader's Forum, in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

He said the growth has slowed down from 4.2 per cent in 2011, which he called "as the fastest growth rate achieved since 2006".

"In 2010, the growth was 1.3 per cent," he said while speaking to over 300-top business executives, who listened to discussions on the different aspects of the topic "Middle East Market Horizons: Towards developing economies and sustainable investment."

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research graced the occasion as chief guest.

Al Shehhi said the UAE was one of the first countries to successfully take on the global financial crisis head on by employing a series of measures such as increased public spending on infrastructure, developing the private sector and supporting investments, both local and overseas.

"Applying governance into the financial system helped kick-start economic momentum but also attracted the attention of investors from around the world," he said.

The undersecretary said: "Sustainable regional economic development is a priority before us, and the financial community has a leading role to play in helping the emerging markets in the MENA region tackle challenges and make the best use of available opportunities."

As a key player in the regional market, Al Shehhi said, "the UAE has continued to demonstrate its strength in dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis factors which have put us on track for further strong growth in the years ahead."

The UAE economy has increased in terms of its relationship to the external economy, as exports and re-exports growth reached 31.9 per cent for the same period of comparison.

Official figures also indicated that the non-oil sector have shown a strong performance by recording a real growth of 3.1 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010.

With the strong business sentiments in the country, the UAE received Dh36.73 billion in the foreign direct investment in 2011, the economic official said.

The UAE saw the launch of 328 projects, up 13 per cent in 2011, comparing with the previous year.

Al Shehhi said the UAE vision 2012 aims to establish a knowledge-based economy that is diversified. "In this direction, we are investing heavily in education and focusing on mutually beneficial partnerships," the undersecretary told the business executives.

"The efforts to create a knowledge-based economy call for innovation across key economic sectors, including oil and gas, construction, healthcare and hospitality. Private sector participation is critical to achieve this strategic objective," Al Shehhi said.

Counting other achievements of the UAE, he said the nation scooped the first place in the field of efficiency of government fiscal policy. It has also clinched seventh place in the efficiency of financial management in the public sector within the Global Competitiveness Report 201, issued by the International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland.


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