The UAE’s economy will grow by 4 per cent in 2010, after contracting 0.5 per cent in 2009, according to an economist at the UK’s Standard Chartered Bank.

The bank also said economic growth in the country could be even higher, indicating a sharp recovery from 2009.

“We see a recovery starting and think that we could even be surprised by a stronger recovery than expected,” says Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, senior economist for the region at the bank.

The Standard Chartered forecast follows a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 1 October, predicting that the UAE’s economy would grow by 4.2 per cent in 2010. The IMF had previously forecast growth of 3.7 per cent.

“We believe there will be a firm recovery in the UAE, but it will still not be back to the boom times of the previous few years,” says Dauba-Pantanacce.

Standard Chartered is forecasting that Saudi Arabia’s economy will shrink by 1 per cent in 2009, before growing 3 per cent in 2010.

“We have reached the bottom and the worst of this economic crisis is behind us now,” says Dauba-Pantanacce. He said market sentiment in the Middle East is improving as a result of the actions by regional governments to boost public spending on infrastructure projects to stimulate their economies.