The UAE's budget for 2019 is up 17% over last year. Image: iStock
The UAE's budget for 2019 is up 17% over last year. Image: iStock

The UAE government approved a zero-deficit 60.3-billion dirham ($16.4 billion) budget for 2019  on Sunday, up 17% from this year’s budget and the largest in the Gulf state’s history, agencies reported.

According to the state-run WAM news agency, over 40% of next year’s budget will be allocated for community development, 17% for education and 7% for healthcare.

UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said the cabinet had also approved a 180-billion dirham budget for the next three years.

“Fifty-nine percent of [the three-year budget] will go towards education and social development,” Sheikh Mohammed, also the ruler of Dubai, tweeted on Sunday. “Our budget is without deficit, and next year’s budget will be the largest in the history of the country.”

In May, the UAE unveiled new incentives to attract foreign investment, including 100% ownership of companies and 10-year visas for professionals and investors.

The measures announced by the UAE, the Middle East’s second-largest economy after Saudi Arabia, came amid a slowdown in the oil, tourism and real estate sectors.

The International Monetary Fund said in May that UAE economic growth fell to just 0.5% in 2017 from 3.0% the previous year, due to a contraction in the oil sector.