As Gulf competition grows, Dubai ruler announces government shake-up

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attends the Global Women's Forum in Dubai

DUBAI (Reuters) - Amid growing competition among Gulf states to position themselves for a post-oil future, Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum on Tuesday announced plans to restructure his government to make it more efficient.

Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter that all Dubai officials and directors of government institutions will sign binding three-year contracts with set outcomes and pay.

Dubai's economy, which is the region's most diversified, was one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. S&P estimated that GDP contracted 10.8% last year.

Earlier this month the Dubai government said it plans to boost tourism and hotel capacity by 134% over the next two decades, as part of a wider plan to make the emirate more competitive.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, also announced a five-year plan to raise the value of foreign trade exchange by nearly 43% and said the government would work to increase air and shipping routes by 50%.

He said Abdulaziz al-Ghurair, who is the chief executive of Dubai lender Mashreqbank and the chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, will be head of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber will be restructured into three separate chambers: the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Chamber of International Trade, and Dubai Chamber for Digital Economy, Dubai's ruler said.

The restructuring announcement comes as Gulf countries seek to secure investment and boost their international status as the importance of oil declines.

Last month, Saudi Arabia gave an ultimatum to foreign companies to set up their regional headquarters in the kingdom or lose out on lucrative state contracts, in what many saw as a challenge to Dubai.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Writing by Yousef Saba and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Jon Boyle and Giles Elgood)