How two oil-rich economies bounced back.


LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD, THE UAE was negatively impacted by the global economic crisis between 2008 and 2009, especially the emirate of Dubai which was highly leveraged. The UAE, and Dubai in particular went through a boom-and-bust cycle that caused a severe property crisis and resulted in dozens of projects being put on hold. But, while the economic woes continue in Europe and the US, both Africa and the UAE have shown rapid recovery and are posting high growth rates.

After contracting by 4.8% in 2009, the UAE's real GDP has managed to bounce back. In 2011, GDP grew by 1.3%; and in 2012 it rose again by 4.2%. Further growth is expected this year. "All indications show that the UAE and Dubai economy will continue growing in 2013 by 3.8%," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, chairman of Emirates NBD, and chairman of Dubai World, told weekly magazine Arabian Business.

Meanwhile, average growth in Africa has continued to confound doubters. Although it declined from 5% in 2010 to a more moderate 3.4% in 2011, mainly due to the political uprisings in North Africa, the continent saw output growth of 5% in 2012, With a similar growth rate predicted ID 2013. It should be stressed that this is an average for the whole African continent and that consistently in the last 5 years, the IMF's list of the world's fastest growing economies has been dominated by countries across Africa.

Exploiting potentials

Although comparing Africa, a continent, with the UAE, a country a fraction of the size, is a somewhat raw exercise, there are interesting comparisons to be made in terms of oil reserves and production ratios.

Topped by Libya with 48bn barrels, Nigeria with 37.2, Algeria with 12.2, Angola with 10.5, and Sudan and South Sudan with 5bn, Africa's total proven oil reserves were 132.4bn barrels at the end of 2011, according to the 2012 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The continent as a whole was said to have produced an average of 8.8m barrels of oil per day in 2011.

In the UAE, proven oil reserves currently stand at around 98bn barrels, and oil production is estimated by BP to have reached 3.3m barrels of oil per day by end of 2011.


Despite Africa having greater proven oil reserves than the UAE--exceeding it with nearly 35bn barrels--the continent's 'reserves to production' ratio according to the BP report was a mere 41.2 at the end of 2011 while the UAE's was nearly double that at 80.7.


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