The Middle East Foreign Investment Trends with Focus on the UAE

In this issue of AIR, we are pleased to present materials on economic developments across sectors of the Middle East with a focus on the UAE. We focus on near term performance, 2022-2024, but also address additional major projects post 2024 including the rail and logistic linkages across the GCC and MENA linking to additional countries.

In 2022, the UAE achieved its highest FDI inflows in history, reaching AED 84 billion. In infrastructure we discuss the launch of freight, the pending launch of passenger service and longer-term links to Oman, and also discuss the opening of the new air terminal, the opening of the UAE’s 3rd largest desalination plant, climbing the rankings in regional and global health care, plans to increase the size of the rapidly growing digital economy, and the launch of four major tourism businesses.

In our green energy section, we update 2022-2024 progress on solar, hydropower and waste to energy - two of these represent the world’s largest by segment.

In 2022, the ADX was the best-performing market in the GCC for a 2nd consecutive year with an increase of 61.4% in its market cap, led by an IPO boom. DFM was up nearly 20% YTD in July 2023, far surpassing MSCI World Index’s 12.6% increase YTD.  We also note studies by Goldman and Morgan Stanley on global reweighting to come to this region. According to the EY MENA M&A Insights 2022 report, the MENA region saw unprecedented M&A deal volumes with 754 announced deals, a 13% volume increase over 2021; aggregate amounts were US$82.5 billion.

The UAE also saw 4 of MENA’s largest announced M&A deals. As the Venture Capital global investment community has learned, the UAE has done an outstanding job of building a world class VC ecosystem. M&A/consolidation started in 2022 and increased throughout 2023 - attracting capital from investors across many geographies – particularly in fintech, e-commerce and healthtech.  

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