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UAE surges through the Middle East storm

The Emirates’ economy has recovered much of the ground it lost in 2008. The country’s banks are taking advantage by growing strongly. Is there a danger of another round of overheating?

As political turmoil convulses more countries around the Middle East and north Africa, there is at least one corner of the region where people tend to see more opportunity than threat. The UAE, and more particularly Dubai, plays a valuable role as a safe haven, drawing in both money and talent from countries that are less stable, more conservative and with weaker infrastructure. That helps to underpin a lot of other economic activity in the UAE, boosting demand for things like real estate and consumer goods, and it has helped to pull the country out from the slump it suffered in 2008 and 2009. Many of the bigger public and private companies have now rescheduled their debts or, in a few cases, paid them off entirely; real estate prices have largely recovered, and tourism and trade have both continued to grow.

It is not just international factors that are providing the impetus for the recovery though. High oil prices mean the Abu Dhabi authorities also have plenty of cash to recycle through the economy in infrastructure projects.

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