The UAE’s purchasing managers index (PMI) declined marginally in January, but remained robust as new export orders hit a long-term high.

The Gulf state’s PMI dropped to 55 last month from 55.6 in December, but was still the second highest over the past 19 months, according to the UK’s HSBC.

“New export orders stood at a new series high, of 58.2, reflecting, in our view, strong conditions in neighbouring Gulf states, particularly for Dubai’s non-oil goods and services,” said Simon Williams, HSBC Middle East economist in a research note.

The country’s PMI has recovered slowly from a dip in the second half of 2011, remaining above 50 – the level that represents flat growth.

In December 2012, UAE’s PMI hit an 18-month high as output and new orders strengthened towards the end of the year, showing strong growth in non-oil industries