Dubai’s industrial sector is a major contributor to the Emirate’s economic activity and is seen by the government as a primary way to support the diversification of the economy by driving non-oil GDP growth. Dubai’s industrial sector comprises the value added produced in manufacturing, construction, electricity, water and gas, and mining and quarrying, and is collectively the second largest economic sector of Dubai.
The sector accounted for 20 per cent of GDP in 2018 with the total value added reaching AED 79.2 billion, an increase of around 1 per cent on the previous year. Manufacturing was by far the biggest contributor at 57 percent of industrial sector output, followed by construction at 32 percent, electricity, water, and gas at 9 percent, and mining and quarrying at 2 percent.
Dubai’s Free Zones are the main source of industrial activity in the Emirate and continue to account for a significant portion of Dubai’s inbound FDI. Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), which is owned by DP World, is one of the largest Free Zones for industrial companies in the Emirate and accounted for 23.9 percent of Dubai’s total FDI in 2017.
While manufacturing and industrial activity in general in the Emirate has traditionally been based around low-tech but high-value-added areas such as chemical production and base metals, Dubai is taking active measures to diversify.
Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030
Recognizing the importance of the industrial sector in driving economic activity and diversification, the Government of Dubai launched the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 in 2016 which aims to boost the global competitiveness of Dubai’s industrial sectors and make them a powerful economic growth engine for the Emirate. With this initiative, the Government is taking proactive steps to make Dubai’s industrial sector a global centre for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovative companies and position the Emirate as an attractive global hub for industrial production. While metals, chemicals and F&B currently account for the bulk of Dubai’s industrial sector, the Government is aiming to support growth in high-tech, high-value-added manufacturing industries by targeting more specialised segments such as in the maritime, aerospace and solar power industries.