DUBAI: Dubai's economy expanded 4.1 per cent from a year earlier in the first half of 2012, official data showed yesterday, indicating the Gulf's main trade and financial hub is holding up well in a weak global environment.
Foreign trade, including re-exports, rose 11.4pc in the first half, according to Reuters calculations. That was roughly half the growth rate seen a year ago; in addition to global conditions, international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme have hit Dubai's trade with that country. Nevertheless, Dubai's gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first half was faster than 3.4pc recorded in 2011.
A major reason was booming tourism.
Hotel guest numbers in the emirate jumped 9.6pc to five million in January-June, while hotels and restaurants saw a 16.1pc surge in their business, said Arif Obaid Al Muhairi, executive director at the Dubai Statistics Centre.
"These indicators are moving towards growth because of the diversity of Dubai's tourism product," he said.
"That helps attract tourists, which reflects positively on demand in related activities and improves performance of the local economy."
Wholesale and retail businesses, which make up nearly a third of Dubai's GDP, grew 3.8pc in the first six months of 2012.
The real estate and business services sector rose 1.5pc. The Dubai housing market has been recovering gradually but bank lending in the UAE remains sluggish.
Al Muhairi said the Dubai government's latest plans for huge tourism and retail developments would contribute to economic growth.
Dubai's ruler Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced on Saturday a plan to build a massive complex that would include 100 hotels, the world's largest shopping mall and a park larger than London's Hyde Park.