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Dubai beats Singapore, London as top city for 'greenfield' FDI projects

FDI Markets data, compiled by the Financial Times, found the UAE's financial capital ranked top overall in global "greenfield" FDI projects attracted in 2023.

Dubai has topped the global list of cities for the most "greenfield" foreign direct investment for the third year running, according to new rankings, beating the likes of London and Singapore to first place.

Greenfield FDI is when a parent company creates a subsidiary in a different country, where it builds its operations from the ground up. FDI Markets data, compiled by the Financial Times, found the UAE's largest city ranked top overall in global greenfield FDI projects attracted in 2023.

Last year, Dubai attracted 1,070 greenfield FDI projects, some 142% more than runner-up Singapore (442) and 148% more than the British capital London (431). 

In total, the emirate announced 1,650 FDI projects, a growth of 39% compared to the previous year (1,188), amounting to around 39.26 billion AED ($10.69 billion) in total FDI capital during 2023. Projects included greenfield FDI, new forms of investments, mergers and acquisitions, reinvestments, venture capital-backed FDI and greenfield joint ventures, the Emirates news agency WAM reported Tuesday.

The top five source countries by total estimated FDI capital into Dubai in 2023 were Canada (26.5%), the United States (17.5%), Saudi Arabia (8.9%), the United Kingdom (8.2%) and India (5.5%).

Dubai plans to double the size of its economy by 2033 from last year’s level and FDI will play an instrumental part in the emirate achieving those ambitions. To that end, the city is looking to attract 650 billion AED ($176.97 billion) in FDI in the next decade.

The FDI Markets data also showed that the Middle East’s main financial center also ranked number one in sectors including consumer goods, energy, e-commerce and tourism for Greenfield FDI projects attraction, as well as Greenfield FDI capital attraction and jobs created through FDI attraction.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, said, “Dubai’s stability, cutting-edge infrastructure and dynamic business environment have made it a focal point for investment, enterprise and talent. The city’s stature as a leading global investment destination also reflects its robust economic fundamentals, strong ethos of partnerships and innovative initiatives to sustain growth and innovation across various sectors,” reported WAM.

Dubai ranked first globally for headquarters FDI projects for the second year running after attracting 60 projects last year. Singapore and London were second and third globally with 40 and 31 projects, respectively.

Dubai ranked fourth globally in terms of the number of jobs created through inward FDI, up from fifth in 2022.

Last week, the emirate was named the city in the Middle East with the highest number of millionaires.