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 towards community development, 17 percent towards education and 7 percent to healthcare.

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 towards 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.”

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.