DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates attracted about 30 billion dirhams ($8.2 billion) of direct foreign investment last year, the UAE’s prime minister said on Monday.
Large amounts of capital fled Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries in search of safe havens after political and economic turmoil erupted in those countries in early 2011.
Because of its political stability and Dubai’s status as an international business centre, the UAE has attracted a large share of the capital.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s office said in a statement that the UAE had received 30 billion dirhams in all foreign direct investment last year.
But speaking earlier the Sheikh insisted that it would be wrong to think the UAE was benefitting from the Arab Spring, as stability in countries hit by the unrest would benefit the whole region including the UAE.
“If we had peace and stability, we would have more than 30 billion...,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Dubai’s ruler, said during an open forum for the public to quiz government officials.
Dubai’s real estate market began to recover last year from a crash in the previous few years, partly because foreign investors saw the emirate as a safe haven, property analysts said.
The UAE attracted $7.68 billion of foreign direct investment from all countries in 2011, up from $5.50 billion in 2010, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Sheikh Mohammed also said the UAE had invested much more than 30 billion dirhams in countries hit by the Arab Spring.
The oil-rich UAE has pledged billions of dollars in aid to help stabilise cash-strapped Arab states since the uprisings began, and UAE companies have shown interest in investing in North Africa.
(This story was corrected after officials made clear that figure was for all FDI not just flows from Arab Spring states)
Reporting by Martin Dokoupil, Amena Bakr and Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Andrew Torchia