Construction, tourism and jobs growth boost Dubai’s economy

Dubai’s economy recorded stronger business activity in January on the back of faster output and new orders, driven by the construction, travel and tourism and retail sectors.

Emirates NBD’s Dubai Economy Tracker Index rose to 56.0 in January mainly on the back of faster output and employment growth after easing in the previous month. The output/business activity index rose sharply to 61.0 last month, the highest reading since July.

The employment index rose to 52.3 in January, and while this does not indicate a staggering number of new jobs created, the reading is the strongest since November 2015, Emirates NBD in its research note released on Sunday.
The survey results revealed that new orders rose sharply in January although at a slightly slower rate than in December. Stocks of pre-production inventories also increased at a slower rate, as many firms would have boosted purchased in December ahead of the introduction of value-added tax (VAT).

“The impact of the new tax is evident in the sharply higher input cost index [59.2 in January from 51.7 in December]. However, the selling price index only rose 1.7 points last month, to 52.2, suggesting that not all firms passed on the full impact of VAT to purchasers. In fact in the travel and tourism sector, prices were close to unchanged from December, suggesting that the full impact of VAT was absorbed by firms in this sector,” said Khatija Haque, head of Mena research at Emirates NBD.
After a relatively soft fourth quarter of 2017, the travel and tourism index rose to its highest level since July at 55.7. Output surged (58.1 from 52.1 in December) as did new work (58.1). Employment in the sector also increased at the fastest rate since March 2015, with this sub-index rising to 53.5 in January.

The Dubai survey data may seem to be at odds with the whole UAE PMI survey as the index rose while the UAE PMI declined slightly in January. This is likely due to the fact that construction, travel and tourism and wholesale and retail trade, which all posted faster growth in output, new work and employment in January, account for a much bigger share of Dubai’s economy relative to their share of whole UAE GDP.

“The rise in the Dubai Economy Tracker Index signals a strong start to 2018, despite the introduction of VAT putting upward pressure on both input and output prices. The construction sector had a particularly strong month in January, and this supports our view that construction will be a key driver of Dubai’s growth this year,” Haque added.

The wholesale and retail trade sector index rose 1.2 points in January to 56.1, indicating a solid rate of growth, despite the introduction of VAT.

By Waheed Abbas, Khaleej Times
11 FEBRUARY, 2018

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