March 31, 2019 / 12:43 PM / 6 months ago

UAE economy rebounds in 2018, but more slowly than expected

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates’ economy grew by around 1.7 percent in 2018, slower than projected despite a boost from higher oil prices, official preliminary data showed.

FILE PHOTO: General view of Dubai's cranes at a construction site in Dubai, UAE December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Satish Kumar/File Photo

The UAE growth figures follow Dubai’s disclosure last week that its economy grew by 1.94 percent in 2018, its slowest pace since a contraction in 2009 when the economy was hobbled by a debt crisis.

Oil producer UAE had projected in December growth between 2.5 and 3 percent for 2018, with Gulf economies benefiting from higher oil prices after OPEC members and other producers cut output to tackle a supply glut.

In its latest quarterly report, the Central Bank estimated the economy grew by 2.8 percent in 2018, up from 0.8 percent a year earlier.

Economic growth was driven by higher oil prices and a robust performance by the non-oil sector, Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri was quoted as saying by state news agency WAM late on Saturday.

The oil and gas sector was the single largest contributor to economic growth, accounting for around 30 percent at constant prices, according to preliminary data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority.

The non-oil sector grew by around 1.3 percent to 1 billion dirhams ($272.3 million).

To offset the slowdown in economic growth, the Dubai government has taken measures to cut costs for key industries including aviation, real estate and education.

The Abu Dhabi government has announced a $13.6 billion economic stimulus package as well as several economic initiatives to ease the cost of doing business.

The UAE has projected growth of 3.5 percent for 2019.

The International Monetary Fund said in February it expects the UAE’s economy to grow by 3.7 percent this year.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Dale Hudson

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