* Total trade up 7.6 pct to $362 billion
* Imports growth outpaces exports
* Trade with Iran rises 4 pct after 2012 plunge
* Tourist numbers up 10 pct, property deals +53 pct
By Martin Dokoupil
DUBAI, March 9 Dubai's non-oil trade expanded
7.6 percent last year, slowing from 13 percent growth in 2012,
but the emirate's trade with Iran stabilised despite U.S.
economic sanctions, according to Dubai customs data released on
The non-oil foreign trade of Dubai, one of seven members of
the United Arab Emirates, rose to 1.329 trillion dirhams ($362
billion) in 2013. The emirate exports small amounts of oil and
imports natural gas.
Dubai's non-oil exports and re-exports climbed 4.0 percent
to 518 billion dirhams, while imports surged 10 percent to 811
The emirate saw its economy pick up strongly last year as
tens of billions of dollars worth of new real estate projects
were announced following a 2008-2010 property market crash.
Tourist numbers rose 10 percent to 11 million people last
year, while new trade licences recorded an increase of 12
percent, the government media office said on Sunday. The total
value of real estate transactions jumped 53 percent to above 236
Buoyed by a renewed inflow of money from abroad, Dubai's
residential real estate prices climbed more than 20 percent last
year and analysts estimate they may return to pre-crisis levels
Dubai has traditionally been a major trading partner of Iran
but that link has been hurt since late 2011, when Washington
imposed banking sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear
programme that forced Dubai to cut back business sharply.
Merchandise trade between Dubai and Iran plunged 31 percent
to 25 billion dirhams in 2012. But last year it rebounded
slightly to about 26 billion dirhams, representing 2 percent of
Dubai's non-oil trade, Dubai customs told Reuters.
Although the banking sanctions remain in place, Iranian
traders say their activities have become easier since President
Hassan Rouhani took office last August, reducing geopolitical
tensions and helping to stabilise the rial currency.
"Dubai's bilateral trade with Iran goes in line with
international obligations," the Dubai customs authority said in
an emailed reply to Reuters questions.
"It is a normal trade covering consumer goods, namely
foodstuffs, car spare parts, electronics and carpets, given the
geographical proximity between the two sides."
The vast majority of trade between Iran and Gulf Arab states
is routed through Dubai. Wooden boats, known as dhows, continue
to carry some goods across the Gulf.