UAE approves $16.4bn budget for 2019

ABU DHABI: The UAE on Sunday approved a zero-deficit 60.3 billion dirham ($16.4 billion) budget for 2019, up 17 percent from this year’s budget and the largest in the country’s history.

According to the state-run WAM news agency, over 40 percent of next year’s budget will go toward community development, 17 percent toward education and 7 percent to health care.

The UAE’s Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said the cabinet had also approved a 180 billion dirham budget for the next three years.

“Fifty-nine percent of [the three-year budget] will go toward education and social development,” Sheikh Mohammed, also the ruler of Dubai, tweeted on Sunday.

“Our budget is without deficit, and next year’s budget will be the largest in the history of the country.”

During the Cabinet meeting, a new federal law was adopted to regulate the space and advanced technology sectors in the UAE. Sheikh Mohammed tweeted, “The goal is to open up the space sector to investment, research and partnership building.”

“It was a coincidence to adopt a large federal budget with the new law for space sector. Both will take the Emirates to new heights,” he added.

In May, the UAE announced new incentives to lure foreign investment, including 100 percent ownership of companies and 10-year visas for professionals and investors.

The measures by the UAE, the Middle East’s second largest economy after Saudi Arabia, came amid a slowdown in the oil, tourism and real estate sectors.

The International Monetary Fund said in May that UAE economic growth fell to just 0.5 percent in 2017 from 3.0 percent the previous year, due to a contraction in the oil sector.

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