Amid the economic slowdown, a lack of trading in the stock market and property values eroding, gold remains a major investment option for investors, experts say.
A Dubai-based spot trader of gold and silver bullion, Gold Arab Emirate, said it has achieved over $500 million (Dh1.84 billion) in transactions in 2011, mainly from Dubai, Turkey, Kuwait and Switzerland branches.
Gold trade in the first half of 2011 reached 580 tonnes (average price $1,455), with exports down from 225 to 214 tonnes, reflecting greater local consumption, according to the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Authority.
"Dubai, in particular, has generated substantial trade volume driven by the continuing surge in local demand, as local imports have reached up to three tonnes of gold each year, reaffirming the emirate's growing status as the ‘City of Gold'," the company said in a statement.
A Gold Arab Emirate spokesperson said he expects volumes to continue increasing as gold remains the best investment.
The UAE has traditionally been a major gold trading hub. A Ministry of Foreign Trade study shows the country to be among the world's top five gold traders from 2005 to 2009, ranking second globally in gold imports in 2009 alone with $14.5 billion worth of gold imported which is equivalent to 16.6 per cent of global imports. In the same period, the UAE ranked third globally in gold exports with a 10 per cent share of global exports worth $10.5 billion.
"Gold fell in light holiday trade on Tuesday as technical weakness, options-related selling and a lack of fresh economic news failed to stimulate buying interest in the final week of the year. Gold is on track for a 9 per cent fall for December," according to an American Petroleum Institute trading update on Tuesday.
"Prices earlier in the month plunged below key technical support they had held for nearly three years, fuelling fears that bullion was close to ending a more than decade-long bull run. Spot gold fell to a one-week low of $1,588.89 earlier in the session. It was down 0.8 per cent at $1,592.80 an ounce. This year to date, gold is up 12 per cent, one of the few investment assets that posted sizable gains in a rather difficult 2011 largely plagued by US double-dip recession fears and Europe's debt crisis."
Mohammad Abu Al Haj, vice-chairman and CEO of Abu Al Haj Holding Limited and Chairman of Gold Arab Emirate, said: "Gold is the only safe-haven investment for 2012 and everyone should have at least 20 per cent of their portfolio in physical gold. In this regard, Gold Arab Emirate therefore serves as a gateway for investors by offering a wide range of alternative solutions for gold investments." Al Haj believes the price of gold will exceed $2,500 an ounce by the end of 2012.
"Nobody can deny that inflation and possibly hyper-inflation will take place in 2012, and the only thing that can protect an individual's net worth from such inflation is gold," he said.
"Money can be printed, gold cannot. For that reason gold always keeps its value. Moreover, I believe that Dubai will be the main gold hub in the world since it has the best logistics and investors' supply/demand satisfaction."
Licensed by DMCC Authority, Gold Arab Emirate provides 24/7 spot trading of gold and silver bullion in a wide range of sizes and weights.