The World Bank has released its projection stating that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to experience a robust growth of 4.8% in its non-oil sector in 2023, contributing to an overall GDP growth of 2.8%. This growth is driven by strong domestic demand, particularly in sectors such as tourism, real estate, construction, transportation, and manufacturing.
During a press conference held in Dubai to unveil the World Bank Gulf Economic Update (GEU) report titled “The Health and Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in the GCC,” officials revealed that the UAE’s current account balance is also expected to increase to 11.7% in 2023. Furthermore, the report predicts a surplus of 6.2% in public finances for the UAE in the same year.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies are projected to grow by 2.5% in 2023 and 3.2% in 2024. In 2022, the region experienced impressive GDP growth of 7.3%, primarily fueled by a significant increase in oil production throughout the year.
The latest GEU report highlights the escalating impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as the leading cause of death and disability in the GCC region, accounting for approximately 75% of all cases. Within this category, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases contribute to over 80% of the mortality and morbidity rates.
Moreover, the report sheds light on the substantial economic burden caused by NCDs in the GCC countries. A collaborative study conducted by the World Bank and key stakeholders estimated that the direct medical costs associated with seven major NCDs amounted to approximately US$16.7 billion in 2019 alone, underlining the urgency for effective preventive measures.
In response to these challenges, several GCC countries have already implemented noteworthy measures to mitigate risk factors, such as implementing taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks, as well as imposing restrictions and bans on the advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products.