Dubai continues to be the top city destination for office openings by overseas companies in the Middle East. According to fDi Markets, in 2018 Dubai recorded 167 offices – a combination of openings and announcements – by overseas companies. The offices carried either a business service or a sales, marketing and support function.
The top source country for FDI office investments was the UK, with software and IT services the most active sector. 'Of the 167 Dubai office projects recorded in 2018 by fDi Markets, nine - or 37.5% - of those which had motives recorded cited proximity to markets and customers as a key determinant for establishing operations there.
Dubai's strength in this area is clear compared with other cities in the region. In 2018, the city with the next highest number of office FDI projects was Abu Dhabi, with just 22. Outside the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Tel Aviv attracted the most such projects, with 24 openings.
Out of 341 projects recorded in the Middle East during 2018, Dubai's 167 projects represent 49% of all office openings in the region. By comparison, those of Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat, Manama, Riyadh, Doha, Tel Aviv, Amman, Beirut, Tehran, Kuwait City, Baghdad, and Jerusalem combined represent just 27.8%.
Capital investment associated with Dubai's office openings in 2018 was $1.17bn – more than five times that of Abu Dhabi, the second highest location by expenditure, at $203.5m. Furthermore, the data illustrates Dubai’s superiority over an extended period. For example, in 2010-17, the capital expenditure related to office openings into Dubai, $9.70bn, was $7.6bn more than that of Abu Dhabi and $8.3bn more than that of Doha, the largest receiver of capital expenditure in the Middle East outside the UAE.
In addition, Dubai has consistently attracted FDI, landing more than 120 offices in each year during the period, while no other city exceeded 50. Data from fDi markets suggests Dubai's strong performance will continue in 2019, with the city consistently outpacing its regional peers.