So globally, 2016 was pretty… how can we put this nicely?… We can’t.
2016 was pretty crap.
As well as oil price fluctuation, we saw Brexit in Europe, fostering an air of division and then topping the year off was Mr. Trump’s ascension to Presidency in the States. He became leader of the free world despite a campaign that was built on sexism, racism, homophobia and a general lack of political understanding…
We haven’t even mentioned the host of international crises such as fleeing refugees, terror attacks and a pronounced increase in race related attacks. Images from Syria filled our timelines as the year went on and recently, the crisis in Aleppo worsened to a catastrophe of humanity.
It’s safe to say that history won’t look back on this year kindly.
However, despite the shitstorms, the UAE managed to not only avoid any major blows, but against all odds, actually prospered despite the global challenges.
The economy grew 0.7% less than last year, but this doesn’t signal a recession. Instead, understanding the economy, and being adaptable, means that the UAE has plans to encourage resilience against macro trends. Instead of faltering at hurdles, such as the economy contracting, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed managed to turn the situation around and create a stimulus for residents and visitors to continue spending, boosting the economy and avoiding any negative economic ramifications.
1. Dubai Upgrades
This year, we saw Dubai upgrade itself (even when we thought it couldn’t get any better!) From glitz and glamour to culture and leisure, every sphere of life got something new.
For the thrill seekers, we got the the world’s largest man-made safari park in Al Ain and one of the longest ziplines in RAK, and ever closer to the opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
In our emirate, a host of theme parks and family attractions opened near the end of summer. We got IMG, the world’s largest indoor theme park and Dubai Parks and Resorts opened Legoland, Bollywood Parks and Motiongate! Safe to say, they’ve been bust chaps!
For the culture vultures, Dubai Opera opened and has already been home to a number of incredible acts and shows already.
All of these new projects increased spending meaning that Dubai is just as much of a regional innovator as ever. The trend shows no signs of slowing as there are now plans for the world’s biggest airport to be in Dubai by 2020. It would carry 220 million passengers per year, making Dubai one of the global leaders in the aviation industry.
2. Lead By Example
Sheikh Mohammed stole headlines at the end of August by ordering the retirement of nine senior government officials. The move came after a surprise visit to Municipality offices and found no staff to be present. The visit was recorded and Sheikh Mohammed was shown standing behind an empty desk. He used the visit to send a message, loud and clear, to all. Regardless of position, complacency won’t be tolerated and hard work would be celebrated.
His open letter two months ago, reemphasized this: “In this short address, I would like to highlight a number of indicators of our achievements. I will leave the rest to our government officials and the members of our media to discuss openly, with transparency and without embellishment but with numbers and facts, research and studies so we can right our path if we need to, work harder if required, thank those whose hard work has resulted in achievements, and encourage those who have lagged behind. Through all of this, we remember that our goal is the advancement and glory of our nation and the betterment and happiness of our citizens.”
2008 may be long gone, but the recession and consequences are fresh in the minds of leadership. To ensure continuing growth and success, all workers must perform, or at least be enthusiastic and forward thinking.
3. Regional Power
Sheikh Mohammed also strengthened regional relationships. Ties with Saudi were tightened with a few visits by King Salman and both leaders signaled the relationship is more than just diplomatic. (We have a road named after him now!) Both countries have a special relationship, built on historical ties and shared goals and ambitions. While the region has born witness to wars and clashes, the Sheikh and the King are showing strength in numbers.
The King even celebrated UAE National Day, which, when you’re a King, is a pretty big deal, right? Speaking of UAE National Day, you could feel the community spirit and pride in the air! The emirates continue to prosper and show solidarity. Together we stand.
So while yes, 2016 was challenging, Dubai just got on with it, in try Dubai style. Dubai’s economy grew by 2.9%, which though is less than last year’s 3.6%, is growth nonetheless. This signals contraction and not the dreaded term “recession”. The economy has been diversified so reliance on oil is not what it used to be and this also means, that other industries are blossoming. It’s a long way to have come in just 12 months, considering the global challenges we’ve faced before.
We’re looking forward to Expo 2020 and all that it will bring, and are confident, that if we keep going the way we have this year, there will be nothing but success and growth for Dubai! While the economy is expected to grow with an influx of visitors, so too will new projects and innovations. Watch this space for news on the Hyper Loop!
Here’s looking forward to 2017! Lovin Dubai will be with you every step of the way! (Even if 2017 turns out to be 2016S!)