UAE economic growth projected at 3.9% this year

Country’s financial sector grew to Dh4 trillion last year, central bank data shows


Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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The UAE Central Bank. — File photo
The UAE Central Bank. — File photo

Published: Thu 13 Jun 2024, 9:54 PM

The UAE’s real overall output growth is rebounding to 3.9 per cent, primarily on the back of a recovery across diverse sectors of the economy, the Central Bank of the UAE said on Thursday.

The Central Bank on Thursday released its 2023 Annual Report, which provides an analysis of financial and economic developments domestically, regionally and globally in addition to detailing the CBUAE’s actions, strategic developments and progress delivered during 2023.

The report states that the UAE’s real GDP growth stood at 3.6 per cent in 2023. The UAE’s financial sector also recorded robust performance in 2023, achieving 11.1 per cent growth in total assets to over Dh4 trillion. “The country’s banking system also maintained appropriate capitalisation, strong profitability, and sufficient liquidity for the year,” a statement said.

The CBUAE also marked significant progress against its 2023-2026 Strategy in the areas of financial stability, monetary policy, banking, insurance and financial crime supervision, consumer protection and digitisation. Testament to these efforts is the UAE banking system’s improvement across key bank soundness indicators. The results are based on the CBUAE’s internal comparison methodology which leverages data from IMF Financial Soundness Indicators.

With regards to financial stability, the CBUAE actively employed a macroprudential policy framework to safeguard financial stability, whilst continuing to perform stress tests to assess banks’ capital and liquidity buffers against adverse scenarios.

The CBUAE also continued its work to ensure the safety and soundness of the financial sector in 2023, carrying out 247 prudential examinations – up from 181 in 2022. For the first time, climate-related risks formed part of the CBUAE’s work in enhancing the regulatory and supervisory framework for licensed financial institutions (LFIs). In addition, the CBUAE’s enhanced efforts in the area of financial crime supervision contributed to the completion of the action plan agreed with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the UAE’s exit from FATF’s enhanced monitoring process.

As part of its Financial Infrastructure Transformation (FIT) programme, the CBUAE launched a series of innovative payment platforms in 2023 with the aim of driving the

Transformation of the UAE’s financial sector and strengthening its stature as a global digital payments hub. These include the establishment of an Instant Payments Platform, Aani, as well as the UAE’s first Domestic Card Scheme, Jaywan.

Building on its commitment towards consumer protection, the CBUAE issued the Ombudsman Regulation in 2023. This led to the establishment of Sanadak, the first independent financial ombudsman unit in the MENA region with a mandate to receive and handle complaints from consumers of banking and insurance institutions.

The CBUAE also continued to promote Emiratisation across the financial sector, with a total of 2,720 Emiratis joining the sector in 2023 against a target of 1,875. Emiratisation in leading roles in banks sector also reached 31 per cent – an eight per cent year-on-year increase.

In keeping with its commitment to bolster sustainability, the CBUAE launched the COP28 UAE TechSprint to promote technology innovation in scaling sustainable finance. The initiative attracted a record 126 proposals from 31 countries. Furthermore, the CBUAE played an important role in uniting the UAE banking sector to mobilise Dh1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, governor of the CBUAE, said: “Guided by the ambitions of our leadership, the CBUAE remains steadfast in its efforts to safeguard financial stability, promote trust in the UAE’s financial system and enable its digital transformation, and improve the nation’s competitiveness globally. Marking its Golden Jubilee in 2023, the progress the CBUAE has delivered against its mandate provides further impetus to our robust fifty-year journey. This includes our focus on implementing innovative projects as part of the FIT programme with the aim of transforming the financial sector. We look forward to continuing our efforts to promote innovation throughout the sector in keeping with the UAE’s ambition of becoming a leading international financial centre.”

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