The three countries with the largest increase in the number of FDI projects since the global outbreak of Covid-19 are all located in the Middle East, according to the latest figures from greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets.

Data comparing the three year periods before and after March 2020 – the month in which the World Health Organisation declared that Covid-19 was a pandemic – shows a divergence of the investment prospects of countries around the world.


The UAE has been by far the biggest beneficiary of the post-pandemic shift in capital pledges. It attracted 792 more FDI projects in the three years since Covid-19, compared with the three-year period before the pandemic. This was mostly driven by Dubai, which has attracted 1469 FDI projects since the outbreak of Covid-19, followed by its neighbouring Emirate of Abu Dhabi (273 projects). Almost two-thirds (62.5%) of Dubai’s foreign greenfield investments were in tech, business and financial services.

In second place is Saudi Arabia, which has in recent years been on a charm offensive to become an alternative Middle Eastern headquarters hub. In the three years since Covid-19 started, the country attracted 479 FDI projects, 72.3% more than the corresponding period before the pandemic.

Rounding out the top three is Qatar. The Gulf country, which was catapulted onto the global stage by hosting 2022 Fifa World Cup, has drawn 245 FDI projects since Covid-19. That is more than double the number it recorded in the three years prior.

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Costa Rica was the only country in the Americas to make the top 10. In the three years since April 2020, the Central American country attracted 394 FDI projects, up by about 80% since before Covid-19, according to fDi Markets figures. While tech made up about a quarter of these projects, Costa Rica has attracted the second largest (63) number of medical device projects of any country in the world since Covid-19, ranking just behind the US (71).

All of the remaining top 10 countries with the largest increase in FDI projects since Covid-19 are in the EU. Portugal has experienced the largest spike (142) in FDI projects among its European peers. It was closely followed by its Iberian neighbour Spain (+135), the eastern European hub of Poland (+128) and Ireland (+115). Rounding out the top 10 are Italy (+92) and Belgium (+78).


While multinationals have shifted their investment decision-making to these aforementioned countries, many large economies have seen a sharp pullback in greenfield FDI announcements. The five countries that witnessed the largest decline in projects since Covid-19 were all in the G8 club of rich nations. China has seen the sharpest fall (-1210) of FDI projects since Covid-19. It is followed by the UK (-1127), France (-577), the US (-529) and Russia (-500).