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Dubai ranks first regionally and second globally in attracting FDI projects in the creative economy in 2021

29 May, 2022

- Latifa bint Mohammed: Dubai’s emergence as a magnet for FDI in the sector has been driven by the farsighted vision and directives of Mohammed bin Rashid

• Dubai attracted FDI in the creative economy worth AED50.9 billion from 2017 to 2021.
• Dubai ranks first in the region and fourth globally in terms of creating jobs from FDI in the sector in the same period.
• Dubai emerges as a magnet for foreign investment and creative talent thanks to its supportive environment, advanced infrastructure and a legislative system that stimulates the creative economy
• The USA topped the list of countries in FDI capital inflows to Dubai in the past five years.


Dubai consolidated its status as a global cultural hub and investment destination, ranking first in the MENA region and second in the world in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the cultural and creative industries (CCI) in 2021, revealed Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council. Her Highness said Dubai’s emergence as a magnet for FDI in the sector has been driven by the farsighted vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

According to the Dubai FDI Monitor report, published by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), Dubai attracted 233 new projects in the creative economy in 2021. Surpassing other major cities such as New York, Singapore and Berlin, Dubai improved its rankings from fifth in the previous year. The report was based on data from the Financial Times’ ‘fDi Markets,’ the world’s leading data source on greenfield FDI projects.

HH Sheikha Latifa said: “These results reflect the maturity and stability of the investment environment in the emirate’s creative economy. Dubai has created outstanding FDI opportunities in the sector by building a robust ecosystem and an advanced business-enabling infrastructure for creative entrepreneurs.

“By fostering an environment that promotes learning, development, and innovation, Dubai has developed a vibrant global creative community. Its unique social fabric that has evolved out of the emirate’s remarkable cultural diversity and its comprehensive human-centred development process has further supported the growth of Dubai’s creative economy.”

Data from Dubai FDI Monitor indicates significant growth in foreign investment in the cultural and creative industries. The sector’s estimated value of FDI capital flows exceeded AED4.9 billion in 2021. The rise in FDI inflow and rankings reflect the enhanced attractiveness of the emirate’s creative economy. In terms of the number of new jobs in the creative economy, Dubai held on to its top rank regionally and fourth globally with 6,204 new jobs created from FDI.

A magnet for FDI
HH Sheikha Latifa said Dubai has witnessed a remarkable rise in FDI capital flows in the creative economy during the past five years. In the 2017-21 five-year period, the emirate’s creative economy witnessed FDI capital inflows of AED50.9 billion across 787 projects. This increase follows the directives and initiatives of Dubai’s wise leadership to make the emirate a destination for creativity and talent through innovative infrastructure, laws and legislation. The results are now a tangible and sustainable reality in the development journey, as envisioned by the leadership.

According to the Dubai FDI Monitor report, these projects created 32,542 new jobs during the five-year period. Dubai ranks fifth globally in terms of projects, eighth in terms of FDI capital flows into the creative economy, and fourth in terms of jobs created during the past five years, data from Financial Times Ltd ‘fDi Markets’ shows.

Her Highness further said: “Dubai’s success in continuously enhancing the well-being of its citizens, residents, and visitors and elevating the quality of services provided to them has raised the global creative community’s confidence in the emirate and made it a preferred global business, lifestyle, and entertainment destination.”

A futuristic global hub for the creative economy
Her Excellency Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture, said the Authority continues to reinforce the foundations to open new horizons for the various components of the emirate’s creative economy and cement its position on the global scene as an ideal investment destination. “At Dubai Culture, we continue to work to enhance Dubai’s position on the global creative economy map and support and attract talent by developing mechanisms, strategies, legislative frameworks, regulations and policies that ensure ease of doing business in creative fields. We also continue to explore partnerships with government, semi-government and private entities, experts, consultants, and creative sector representatives to create new opportunities that ensure prosperity for all. We endeavour to consolidate the emirate’s position as a global destination for investment in the cultural and creative industries.”

“2021 witnessed increased inflows of FDI capital into Dubai’s creative economy despite the pandemic, which reflects the emirate’s flexibility and readiness to face all challenges, nurture talent and help businesses maintain their stability, sustainability and competitiveness,” Badri added.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai, stressed that Dubai’s regional and global pre-eminence in FDI attraction stems from the vision and guidance of the leadership to build a diversified economy based on knowledge and innovation. “The cultural and creative industries today are among the most attractive for investments, advanced technologies, and talent. The sector has contributed greatly to Dubai achieving the top global ranking in attracting greenfield FDI projects in 2021,” added AlMarri.

Fahad Al Gergawi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai FDI, stressed that Dubai’s cultural and creative industries sector has increased its attractiveness to all forms of FDI, including greenfield FDI projects, FDI Reinvestment projects, Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As), Joint-Ventures, and New Forms of Investments (NFIs), in addition to Venture Capital (VC) Backed FDI. “The Dubai FDI Monitor data provides a comprehensive analysis of FDI projects in Dubai’s economic sectors. It helps the strategic planning process for enhancing Dubai’s attractiveness for FDI, as well as the FUSpromotion, facilitation and the provision of specialised and reliable services to the investor community,” Al Gergawi said.

According to ‘Dubai FDI Monitor’ data, Greenfield FDI accounted for 71% of the total FDI projects in Dubai’s cultural and creative industries in 2021, followed by Mergers & Acquisitions projects (12% of the total), Reinvestment FDI projects (9%), New Forms of Investments (5%) and Joint Venture (2%).

Dubai Culture is working with its strategic partners to develop an effective framework that will enhance the growth of Dubai’s culture and arts sector and raise its contribution to the emirate’s GDP. It is supported by the full activation of Dubai Culture’s founding law, which stipulates its role as a policymaker, regulator, and enabler of this sector in the emirate.

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