The phenomenal growth rate of the UAE economy bears strong testimony to the vision and far-sightedness of the people and leaders of the country complemented by their dedication and hard work. The GDP growth of the UAE in the year 2004 reported at 10.5 per cent is very impressive and directly attributable to windfall oil revenues and record low interest rates, the continuing boom in the construction industry, developmental expenditures in public works and trade and financial sectors. The corresponding reported growth was 7.1 per cent in the year 2003 and 4 per cent in year 2002.
It would be worthwhile to note that the GDP growth of Dubai in the year 2004 was reported at an amazing 16.7 per cent (approximately AED100 billion in monetary terms). The accumulated annual growth of Dubai’s economy in the last decade at 10 per cent is reported to be amongst the highest in the world. The gradual reduction of Dubai’s dependence on oil revenue is a very positive sign that will herald a golden era for Dubai, more so because oil reserves in Dubai are limited and are expected to run out within 20 years. The contribution of oil to the Dubai GDP grew by 10.9 per cent in the year 2004, whereas the corresponding growth of the non-oil sectors was 17 per cent in the GDP contribution. Oil contributed 6 per cent to Dubai’s GDP in the year 2004 down from 7 per cent in the year 2003.
This growth in the UAE and Dubai in particular has been mirrored by the growth and performance of the diversified businesses of our group.
Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises, our flagship construction company has bagged the prestigious AED3.67 billion Dubai International Airport Project Terminal 3 Concourse 2, teaming up in a Joint Venture with the South African firm Murray and Roberts and Takenaka of Japan. The other prestigious projects currently under construction, just to name a few, are the AED1 billion Jumeirah Beach Residence project, Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa project and the AED1.4 billion 5-star Hotel Towers project at Doha, Qatar.
The Al Habtoor Motors automobile trading division has had a record year in 2004, posting an increase of over 60 per cent in unit sales over the previous year and has secured a higher market share of the Japanese vehicle brands. The Group's Rent-A-Car company, Diamondlease, has increased the fleet size to an impressive 2,825 units during the year 2004.
The Al Habtoor Group’s on-going commitment to community service has resulted in the expansion of the existing Emirates International Private School with the construction of the Girls Section and a new School in the Meadows, in tune with the increasing needs of the local population for quality education.
Habtoor Hospitality, the hotel and leisure activity segment of the group, has also had a phenomenal performance, both in occupancy levels and average room rates, across all its hotels in the year 2004.
We have successfully opened the first and only real theme park in the Arab world in Beirut, Habtoor Land, which was inaugurated by the President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud.
Our on-going projects in the hospitality sector are the Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa in Jumeirah Beach and the Habtoor Grand Hotel, Convention Centre and Spa in Beirut, Lebanon, both scheduled for opening in the middle of the year 2005. We feel these overseas ventures in Lebanon will be like ambassadors for Emirate business that reflect the highest standard of excellence.
The future never looked so bright and we strongly believe in an even brighter future for the region, the UAE, Dubai and in particular the diversified businesses of the Al Habtoor Group.