The global recession has not deterred the United Arab Emirates from developing its warehouse and transportation infrastructure in the long-term, with research from Standard Chartered Bank claiming the logistics industry could emerge as the country's biggest asset outside of oil.
Although hydrocarbons is likely to remain the predominant contributor to GDP in the short to medium term - it accounted for approximately 43 percent of exports in 2008 - developing other economic sectors is considered essential to the long-term growth plans of the UAE.
"More than a 'stop-off' point, the United Arab Emirates is becoming a logistics hub that serves a vast population, with its location at the crossroads of major shipping routes between Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, while one third of the world's population is also located within four hours by plane," said Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank.
"Apart from oil, this central location on the global map is another natural asset that can be banked upon with certainty," he adds.
Although billions of dollars have been invested to develop the warehousing and transportation infrastructure in Dubai - with the construction of new projects such as Dubai Logistics City and Al Maktoum International Airport, as well as expansions to current developments such as Jebel Ali Port and Dubai Cargo Village - other emirates in the country have also increased their focus on logistics in recent months.
Ajman Free Zone Authority, for example, secured financing earlier this year to complete the third phase of its large-scale warehousing complex, while Abu Dhabi Airports Co. has announced plans for logistics parks to support its airports in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
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