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UAE: We should diversify our economic base

The Gulf region’s oil export revenues are likely to reach $305 billion in 2006, a five-fold increase over 1998, said Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Minister of Economy and Planning, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, reports Gulf News.

Nevertheless, the minister stressed that the Gulf economy must be reformed. “There is no doubt that oil will continue to play an important role in the development of the UAE for many years to come. But oil will not take us to the next level of development. We need to grow and diversify our economic and industrial base,” said Sheikha Lubna.

The minister then further promoted the UAE’s oil sector, saying the UAE is open to international investors with 100 percent foreign ownership in 15 free trade zones, and up to 75 percent foreign ownership outside these areas depending on the sector and the emirate.

Many Middle Eastern countries are almost solely dependent on their oil revenues. This dependency, say analysts, will severely harm them in the next few decades, when their oil reserves begin to decline.