The outlook for the UAE economy remains strong due to the government's vision and strategy to diversify its resources, upcoming tourism and international events such as Expo 2020 and Fifa World Cup as well as growing population, experts say.
Addressing the 5th Al Masah Annual Investor Forum on Wednesday, top government officials, executives and industry specialists said investors should explore opportunities in healthcare, education, logistics, and food and beverage sectors in the wake of anticipated growth in spending on infrastructure and Expo 2020 developments in the coming years.
Shailesh Dash, founder and chief executive of Al Masah Capital, said outlook for the UAE's economy is promising despite the decline in oil prices as its visionary leadership cut dependence on oil and diversified resources to non-oil sectors. He said Al Masah Capital has launched five verticals since its launch five years back to sustain a steady growth and ensure good returns to investors. "We have raised more than $1 billion in funds since inception and will launch a couple of new offerings in health and education sectors by early next year," Dash told Khaleej Times.
Speaking at the 5th Al Masah Capital Annual Investor Forum today, Dr. Fatma Al Sharaf, Director of Strategy and spokesperson for medical tourism at Dubai Healthcare City, said, "We, at Dubai Healthcare City believe that the assurance of quality and safety is key to draw medical tourists as well as aspects such as specialization. Over the years, the Emirate has strengthened its reputation in the field. Growth drivers were - and continue to be - world-class healthcare, niche specialties and Dubai's reputation as a politically stable, modern and developed city in addition to its regulatory environment, capacity planning and encouragement of Public Private Partnerships.
Dash said this is a fantastic forecast for the UAE healthcare industry, but this also highlights the important fact that both the government and private healthcare companies need to work hand in hand in order to realistically serve that many patients and generate the estimated revenues of Dh2.6 billion, or $710 million, by 2020.
Rafia Al Mulla, founder and chief executive of 54 East Investments and ATE Restaurants, shared her success story in the food and beverage (F&B) industry and said she is keen to replicate the successful business model in other countries.
"We are looking to explore Saudi and Qatar markets. Our current focus is on food and beverage business, but we are open to non-F&B models as well," she said.
Al Mulla said the UAE's food and beverage industry is currently worth over $14.5 billion and it is expected to grow at the rate of six per cent in next three to four years. Akbar Naqvi, executive director, Al Masah Capital, gave an overview of alternative asset management and said the Middle East and Africa region is ripe for investment and remains ahead of more developed regions such as North America and Europe.
"The alternative asset management industry rose from $648 billion a few years back to $6.91 trillion today. As per conservative estimates, the industry will reach $13.66 trillion by 2020," he said.
Ryan Fansa, director and head of Real Estate Al Masah Capital, shed light on latest developments in the property sector. He said Dubai has emerged as a mature market despite 50 per cent decline in oil prices since the summer of 2014. He attributed the credit to the government and regulatory authorities and said real restate contributes 16 per cent to Dubai's gross domestic product annually.
Ian Albert, regional director and head of valuation and advisory - Mena at Colliers International, explained office, residential, retail and hospitality segments of the real estate industry. He said investors have opportunity to invest in the property sector as the prices have rationalised in the past one year.