Dubai continued to attract more foreign direct investment, or FDI, in the first quarter of 2012, particularly in the tourism sector, as the number of trade licences increased by 27 per cent, compared to the same period last year. The Department of Economic Development, or DED, said on Monday it issued 4,343 trade licences from January to March, with tourism accounting for the highest increase in the number of licences with 213 per cent, followed by the industrial (71 per cent), commercial and professional (26 per cent each) sectors, compared to the first quarter of 2011. “Such impressive growth in overall business activity will further boost investor confidence, drive inward investments and strengthen the competitiveness of Dubai’s economy,” DED Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) chief executive officer Mohammed Shael Al Saadi said. The DED provides a varied and integrated bouquet of services to ensure time and cost savings for clients, Al Saadi said, adding that these services are tailored to meet all their requirements efficiently. “The quarterly report confirms the success of our initiatives and procedures, and affirms the growing investor interest in engaging in diverse business activities in Dubai.” The total number of licences renewed in the first quarter was 25,382, a three per cent decrease over the same period in 2011, while amended licences showed a 21 per cent increase. The total number of BRL transactions reached 144,840, compared to 124,037 during the same period in 2011, a 17 per cent increase. The number of trade names reserved during the first three months of the current year reached 17,565, a 44 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2011, while the number of initial approvals reached 7,735, a 36 per cent increase over the 5,701 recorded in last year’s period. The total number of commercial activities licenced reached 4,634, with general trade leading the list of the top 10 licenced activities in the commercial category with 195 licences issued in the first quarter of 2012, followed by dyes and paints (191 licences), tiling of floors and walls (188), and carpentry and flooring (185). In the tourism sector, inbound tourism was the leader with 17 licences, followed by travel agents (six) hotel management (three), accredited airline general service agent and leasing of hotel apartments (one licence each). “The licensing activity in tourism industry reflects the substantial growth in this sector, resulting from the vision and strategies of our leadership aimed at making Dubai a destination of choice. It also underlines the important role played by the retail sector and the presence of varied shopping centres across Dubai, in addition to the security, stability and safety that distinguish the emirate,” Al Saadi said. In the industrial activities segment, blacksmithing and welding workshops led the list.