Abu Dhabi non-oil economy expands in second quarter amid push to attract hedge funds

Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy expanded briskly in the second quarter as its efforts to become a hub for hedge funds and other financial firms start to pay off.

Gross domestic product in the emirate’s private, non-oil sector rose over 12 percent on an annual basis to a quarterly record of ($41.9 billion (Dh.154 billion), according to preliminary government data published on Monday. Overall economic output — heavily dependent on oil and gas — rose 3.5 percent during the quarter.

The financial sector grew nearly 30 percent. Several major firms have opened offices in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, or moved senior executives there this year. Among them are Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Brevan Howard Asset Management, and Ray Dalio’s family office.

The boom is similar to that in Dubai, the UAE’s biggest city, which has seen a mass of financial, legal, and crypto professionals move there in the past two years.

Abu Dhabi has sovereign wealth funds with more than $1 trillion of assets. They’ve been investing heavily at home and abroad, a major lure for foreign financial companies seeking new business.

The value added by the construction sector stood over 19 percent year-on-year during the second quarter, with the industry accounting for nearly 9 percent of Abu Dhabi’s GDP

Manufacturing activity grew 7 percent, contributing over 25 percent to non-oil GDP. Wholesale and retail trade activities also expanding significantly.

Abu Dhabi is increasingly an “economic powerhouse and pre-ferred destination for talents, businesses, and investments,” according to Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

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