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UAE says GDP fell in 2009 after 21 years of growth

Real GDP contracts by 1.6 pct in 2009; Earlier govt estimate was 1.3 pct growth; Stats office revises GDP figures for previous years;

May 4, 2011 4:11 by

The United Arab Emirates’ economy shrank 1.6 percent in 2009, the first contraction since 1988, compared with a previous government estimate of 1.3 percent growth, revised data showed on Wednesday.

The 2008 global credit crunch shelved projects worth billions of dollars in Dubai, the UAE’s trade hub known for its artificial palm-shaped islands and the world’s tallest tower, while oil output also fell as crude prices plunged.

The National Bureau of Statistics also recalculated gross domestic product data for previous years and changed its base year for GDP in constant prices to 2007, from the previous benchmark of 2000.

As a result, the OPEC member’s economic growth for the oil-boom year of 2008 was revised sharply downward to 3.3 percent from a previous 7.4 percent.

The statistics office did not comment on the revisions and also did not release estimates for 2010 performance of the world’s No.3 oil exporter, when it was hit by debt troubles in Dubai’s state-owned firms.

However, rising trade flows and oil prices above $110 per barrel were expected to help lift UAE economic growth to 3.4 percent this year from an estimated 2.2 percent in 2010, a Reuters poll showed in March.

The UAE central bank governor told Reuters on Wednesday that the economy was forecast to grow by 4-5 percent this year, little harmed by unrest sweeping much of the Arab world. (Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Martin Dokoupil; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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