Doubling of Dubai’s Economy in a Decade: D33 provides a Realistic Blueprint

Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Economist, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai

The ambitious Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’, which aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy over the next decade, is a bold target. It is planned that this target will be achieved through an extensive range of strategic initiatives and policies that collectively aim to cement the emirate’s position as a global business and financial hub. 

In the words of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum: “One must take advantage of available opportunities, and opportunities will only be well seized by those who are waiting for them. If you challenge a goal you will be able to achieve it.” 

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of the size of an economy, which takes into account the amount of goods and services produced during a given year. This can be broken down into components: GDP (Y) = Consumption (C) + Investment (I) + Government Expenditure (G) + (Exports X-Imports M), or Y=C+I+G+(X-M). 

The D33 plan takes into consideration all policies that will drive forward these GDP components. To understand how we can expect Dubai’s GDP to double, we must break down each component and consider how each one will contribute to the emirate’s economy.

Consumption (C): D33 aims to increase the value of domestic demand for goods and services from AED 2.2 trillion in the past decade to AED 3 trillion in the coming decade. This is to be achieved through an increase in domestic economic activity that is focused on making Dubai a hub for skilled workers, the fastest growing and most attractive global business centre, and an international hub for global multinational companies and national SMEs. The Golden Visa scheme and provision of multiple types of Residency and Visit Visas will encourage more economic activity within Dubai, attracting a diverse range of talent to build their careers and lives in the city – from entrepreneurs and graduates to high-net worth individuals and families.

D33 also considers the development of some of the emirate’s most vital industries. One of the plan’s targets aims to position Dubai amongst the world’s top three tourist destinations, as tourists to Dubai have a high spend that will contribute substantially to domestic consumption. Opening up more world-class universities in Dubai will also not only encourage resident students to stay in Dubai, seek employment, and contribute to achieving the nation’s goals, but also encourage international students to come to Dubai for education and employment after graduation. 

Investment (I): D33’s agenda will help raise the contribution of FDI to Dubai’s economy to a total of AED 650 billion and private sector investment in Dubai to AED 1 trillion in the next 10 years. Some key priorities to achieve this include making Dubai one of the five leading logistic hubs in the world, top four global financial centres, and top three tourist cities in the world. 

D33 also includes a programme to support the growth of 30 companies in new sectors to become global unicorns. The Dubai Unified License is one of the first 100 transformative projects within D33. This project will provide a unique commercial identity for all companies across economic zones. The ‘Sandbox Dubai’ initiative will make Dubai a major hub for incubating business innovation.

Government Expenditures (G): We will see a growth in government expenditures from AED 512 billion in the past decade to AED 700 billion over the next decade, with increased investment in infrastructure for future growth sectors and further development of traditional trade and economic sectors.

Exports – Imports (X-M): D33 will see policies put in place to raise the total value of foreign trade in goods and services from AED 14.2 trillion in the past 10 years to AED 25.6 trillion in the next decade. This is hoped to be achieved by promoting exports and reducing the emirate’s reliance on imports by encouraging domestic manufacturing. With the boost given to industries such as tourism, logistics, education and financial services, the exports of services will substantially increase.

Dubai’s goal of doubling the size of its economy over the next decade may seem ambitious. In fact, among major economies, China is one of the few that has achieved this goal. 

The D33 agenda outlines the measures and policies that will supercharge the doubling of the Dubai economy in a decade. D33 is a well thought out plan backed by forward thinking policies. After all, our industrious and visionary city has a well-proven track record of making the impossible, possible. 


* My thanks to Professor Ajit Karnik Middlesex University Dubai for his valuable input

* A version of this Research  Note was published in the Gulf news on 7th Feb 2023