Dubai’s economy expanded by 2.8 per cent in real terms last year, faster than previously expected, preliminary data showed on Sunday. The emirate, which accounts for 28 per cent of the UAE economy, previously estimated 2.4 per cent gross domestic product growth in 2010, a prospectus to the government’s updated bond issuance programme showed in June. In 2010, Dubai’s real GDP rose to Dh293.6 billion ($79.9 billion) after a downwardly revision of Dh285.7 billion in the previous year, data from the Dubai Statistics Center showed. It previously reported output of Dh286.6 billion for 2009. Dubai’s wholesale and retail trade sector, which accounts for a third of the emirate’s GDP, rose by 4.5 per cent in real terms last year, while construction fell by 14.7 per cent, the data showed. Despite recovery, banks still remain hesitant to lend across the UAE. Analysts polled by Reuters in June expected the UAE economy to grow by 3.7 per cent in 2011 after a 1.4 per cent expansion last year helped by robust oil prices and strong trade flows. Meanwhile, trade volume in UAE free zones of 2011 first quarter reached approx. Dhs101 billion, as against Dhs84.6 billion at the same period in the last year, with an increase of Dhs16.4 billion showing 19 per cent growth. The Federal Customs Authority (FCA) announced in yesterday that the free zone trade of the first quarter of this year represents 31 percent of the total volume of the trade, referring to the fact that the total UAE trade volume (non-oil external trade and free zone trade) in the first quarter of the year reached Dhs329.4 billion, of which imports hit Dhs204.2 billion, 27.3 billion for exports and re-exports contributed Dhs98 billion. FCA added that the free zone trade data reflects the economic role played by those zones in national economy and international trade. The growth rate in the free zones trade reveals a rebound in economy and trade, and highlights the national economy’s ability to lure foreign funds. It also confirms that the UAE outshines as an ideal business environment. FCA stated that the imports volume of the free zones 19 percent Y-o-Y in 2010, from Dhs48.8 billion in 2010 to Dhs57.4 billion. Exports and re-exports reached Dhs 43.6 billion, rising 20 per cent from Dhs36.2 billion in 2010. In the first quarter of this year, the total trade volume of free zones and markets in terms of weight reached about 4.4 million tons, including 2.8 million tons of imports, 286 thousand tons of exports and 13 million tons of re-exports.