Upbeat UAE central bank sees 4% upswing in non-oil GDP

Issac John /Dubai Filed on June 18, 2021
The UAE's economic indicators remained strong even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regulator working hard to ensure continued flow of credit, helping affected individuals and companies overcome temporary debt repayment difficulties

The UAE’s gross domestic product will grow 2.4 per cent this year and 3.8 per cent in 2022 as the economy recovers from restrictions imposed during the Covid pandemic, the central bank said on Thursday.

In the non-oil sector, the GDP will expand by around four per cent in the current as well as the next year, the Central Bank of the UAE said its Financial Stability Report.

“The Targeted Economic Support Scheme [Tess] has been effective in mitigating the risks posed by the pandemic by ensuring a continued flow of credit and helping affected individuals and companies to overcome temporary debt repayment difficulties,” the apex bank said.

The regulator has extended access to the Dh50 billion zero-cost liquidity facility under Tess until the end of June 2022 to help cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

“In line with the UAE’s robust mitigation measures, including a swift rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the central bank has worked tirelessly to ensure that vital sectors of the nation’s economy are able to withstand this crisis. The central bank’s introduction of Tess came at the right time, ensuring that banks could mitigate funding and liquidity pressures and maintain their lending capacity, resulting in the provision of necessary aid to individuals and corporates alike,” central bank governor Khaled Mohamed Balama, adding that the support is ongoing as most support measures provided by the central bank will remain in place through 2021.

“Together with the UAE financial sector, we pave the way for gradual economic recovery and remain vigilant towards the challenges ahead, as we continue to uphold the UAE’s financial and monetary stability,” said the governor.

The report demonstrates that the UAE banking sector remains resilient, with sustained lending capacity. The effects of the pandemic resulted in banks’ higher impairment charges, lower operating income and reduced profitability. The aggregate capital and liquidity buffers remain well above the regulatory requirements.

In addition, the central bank conducted frequent top-down solvency and liquidity stress tests by using a number of hypothetical adverse scenarios at different stages of the Covid-19 crisis.


The stress-testing results indicated that the UAE banking system has solid capital and liquidity buffers to withstand the significant hypothetical shocks. A separate section of the report is devoted to climate risk, which is at the forefront of regulatory focus both globally and in the UAE.

The report underlines that it is important for the UAE banks to consider integrating climate change risk into their lending and operational processes. It features detailed information about payment systems operated by the central bank as well as the benefits and risks posed by new technologies and cybersecurity.

The report highlights the importance of adequate management of risks associated with new technologies and increased competition from innovative market entrants. Continued focus on those risks is important as the UAE strengthens its role as the largest fintech hub in the Middle East. It also covers the other key sectors of the UAE financial market, such as the insurance sector, finance companies, exchange houses and capital markets.



Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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