Dubai retains its spot as world’s top FDI destination for tourism

"FDI inflows reflect the growing investor confidence in Dubai"
Dubai retains its spot as world’s top FDI destination for tourism
Helal Saeed Almarri

Dubai retained its top rank worldwide for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into tourism in 2021. With 6.4 billion dirhams ($1.7 billion) in FDI across 30 FDI projects during the year, Dubai ranked number one in FDI capital, projects, and job creation in the tourism sector in 2021, according to The Financial Times’ fDi Markets data, a leading global data source on crossborder greenfield FDI investments.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, credited the exceptional leadership and visionary policies of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for Dubai’s remarkable achievements and its status as the world’s leading tourism FDI destination in a challenging year for the sector globally.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum expressed his gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s farsighted vision for creating a resilient financial, economic, and social ecosystem that has set a template for others to emulate. Dubai has emerged as a key global economic hub and the world’s leading investment destination. Sheikh Hamdan said Dubai’s rank as the top FDI destination for tourism reaffirms the sector’s role as a key economic driver that offers international investors confidence and an exceptional opportunity for stable and sustainable returns. 

Moreover, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum noted that Dubai’s enabling infrastructure, business-friendly policies, and flexible regulatory environment that kept pace with the needs of global investors would keep it at the forefront of the world’s FDI destinations. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said Dubai’s world-class infrastructure and exceptional services to investors reinforce its strategy to become the world’s best city to live in, work, and visit. 

A momentous year


The city rankings of ‘FDi Markets’ are based on investment destinations that attract 10 or more greenfield FDI projects in a year. Dubai’s tourism sector attracted 6.4 billion dirhams ($1.7 billion) in FDI across 30 FDI projects in 2021. The new investments and projects generated 5,545 new jobs during the year, according to the Dubai FDI Monitor report, published by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the DET.

This remarkable FDI performance capped a momentous year for Dubai. In 2021, the city led a resurgence in global travel and tourism after COVID-19, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the UAE, and welcomed the world to Expo 2020 Dubai while emerging as one of the safest destinations in the world.

A five-year lead


The year also marked a successful five-year period during which Dubai stayed ahead of leading international cities, including London, Paris, and Shanghai, in attracting FDI into tourism. Dubai’s tourism sector attracted 83.5 billion dirhams ($22.8 billion) in FDI capital across 205 FDI projects during 2017-21, generating 30,082 new jobs.

Dubai welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors in 2021, representing a 32 percent year-over-year growth and underscoring the city’s efforts to become the world’s most visited destination.  

The exceptional success of Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest global event of its kind that attracted more than 24 million visitors, followed Dubai’s achievement in being selected as the world’s most popular destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022.

Unique tourism proposition


Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), said: “Dubai has created a unique tourism proposition in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to promote Dubai as the most sought-after global city and the most attractive location to live, work, visit and invest. While consolidating its advantages as a well-connected hub with world-class infrastructure, attractions, and lifestyle, Dubai also launched concerted efforts in key source markets to showcase its capabilities in enabling business growth and as a leading global tourism center. Dubai’s top rank reflects the effectiveness of the multi-geographic campaigns and its diversified offering across sectors.”

The strong investor interest in Dubai’s tourism sector complemented Dubai’s net gains as an investment destination in 2021. The value of total FDI capital flows into all sectors in Dubai exceeded 26 billion dirhams from 618 announced FDI projects in 2021, with a growth rate of 5.5 percent compared to 2020. 

For his part, Fahad Al Gergawi, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai FDI, said that “Dubai’s top ranking in terms of jobs created by FDI into tourism proves that the exemplary investment environment developed by the city will continue to attract, retain, and grow financial as well as human capital.”

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