Business Environment in the U.A.E.
The GDP growth rate was very high during the last decade, as it tripled in 5 years, from 87 to 275 billion USD. The UAE have the fourth highest per capita GDP in the world.
The GDP is dominated by the economic power Abu Dhabi (60%), especially by its hydrocarbon production (this emirate hold 9% of the world oil reserves and 5% of the planet’s natural gas reserves) and by its control of nearly all the country’s savings. Dubai contributes to up to 26% of the GDP and constitutes the Emirates’ commercial platform, mostly due to its port and airport infrastructures. The government is trying to develop new sectors, such as tourism, financial services and real estate. In this perspective, the Emirate of Dubai has multiplied the creation of free zones and is becoming a platform for re-export in the region. There is also a number of great cultural projects (museums, especially an annex of the Louvre museum) and sport projects (Formule 1). Moreover, the country has decided to diversify its energy sources by building a fleet of nuclear power plants by 2017 and massively investing in renewable energies, with 22 billion USD for the “Masdar” project.
UAE was nevertheless hit hard by the global economic crisis, which has caused a felt slowdown of the country’s growth. Different factors are at cause: falling oil prices, a contraction of private sector activity, the bursting of the housing bubble in Dubai because of overinvestment, the scarcity of supply of bank credit. Moreover, Dubai was the hardest hit, due to its position of a highly globalized platform and very high borrowing rates. However, the authorities have reacted. The banking sector was consolidated through state guarantees on deposits, introduction of liquidity, recapitalization of banks, and an expansionary fiscal policy (to preserve investments and enhance competitiveness).
|GDP (billions USD)||270.33||301.88e||363.82e||384.20||402.61|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-3.2||3.2e||3.3e||3.8e||4.0|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||55,081e||59,717||69,872||71,638e||72,884e|
|Inflation Rate (%)||1.6||0.9||4.5||3.0||2.5|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||-3.1e||7.8e||7.7e||10.5||-|
Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Main Sectors of Industry
Agriculture contributes to less than 3% of the GDP. Raw material exploration accounts for nearly 36% of the GDP. United Arab Emirates is the 3rd largest oil producer in the world, with large reserves. Presently, their oil and gas reserves are estimated for 100 years of exploitation.
Manufacturing activities have witneesed an unprecedented growth in the last five years, particularly in sectors such as metal processing, furniture, industrial preparation of food stuffs, aluminum production, cement and construction materials, fertilisers, petrochemical industry, fiberglass and finally real estate.
As for tertiary sector, it contributes around 40% of the GDP and is dominated by international trade, air transport, tourism and financial activities.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||4.9||39.8||54.4|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||1.8||60.6||37.6|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||5.0||10.3||7.6|
Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.
|UAE Dirham (AED) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD||3.67||3.67||3.67||3.67||3.67|
Source: World Bank
Indicator of Economic Freedom
- Moderately free
- World Rank:
- Regional Rank:
Foreign Trade in Figures
United Arab Emirates are amongst the world’s most dynamic markets in terms of foreign trade. It is amongst the world's 25 primary exporters and 30 primary importers of commodities. Its imports have grown at a rate higher than 20% on average per year from 2003. Despite the sharp slowdown in trade in 2009, the UAE is considered a central business hub of the Gulf countries, Iran, South Asia and East Africa.
United Arab Emirates has displayed a large commercial surplus in both 2009 and 2010, due to the raising oil prices.
The main UAE trade partners are Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China and Pakistan. The main products exported by the country are hydrocarbons, natural gas, dried fish and dates. Its main suppliers are India, China, the United States, Germany and Japan. The United Arab Emirates mainly imports machinery, transport equipment, chemical products and food stuffs.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||100,057||132,500||177,000||150,000||170,000|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||145,587||178,630||239,213||185,000||235,000|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||24,322||33,372||42,773||36,799||-|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||6,259||7,434||8,958||9,503||-|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||67.7||63.8||-||-||-|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||91.4||87.1||-||-||-|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||159.1||151.0||-||-||-|
Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank
Main Partner Countries
(% of Exports)
|Other partnersClose extended list||70.3%|
(% of Imports)
|Other partnersClose extended list||61.1%|
Sources of General Economic Information
Website of the Ministry of Economy
Website of the Ministry of Finance
- Statistical Office
Office of Statistics-Dubai Municipality
- Central Bank
Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates
- Stock Exchange
Dubai International Financial Exchange
Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange
- Search Engines
UAE Internet pages
- Economic Portals
- Executive Power
- Each Emirate is governed by an Emir and is under his administration. Every Emir preserves the autonomy for management of his Emirate's resources.
The Supreme Council of Emirs is the highest authority of UAE ; it holds legislative and executive powers. The Emir of Abu Dhabi, the biggest oil producing Emirate, has been President in 2004 and succeeded from his father. The Emir of Dubai has been nominated the Vice-President and Prime Minister.
- Legislative Power
- There is only one Chamber: The National Federal Council. It consists of 40 members of which 20 are appointed by the President and 20 are elected, each Emirate has a number of representatives equivalent to its demographical weight. Their mandate is for two years. This council has only consultative functions.
- Main Political Parties
- There are no political parties.
- Current Political Leaders
- President : Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan (since November 2004)
Prime Minister : Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (since January 2006)
- Next Election Dates
- Presidential Election : 2014
Designation of members of the National Federal Council : 2011
Indicator of Freedom of the Press
- World Rank:
- 17 places down compared to 2008
Indicator of Political Freedom
- Not Free
- Political Freedom:
- Civil Liberties:
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With the oil and gas sector accounting for over 31% of the country’s GDP, higher oil and gas prices as well as the increasing oil production capacity will continue to support the UAE’s economic growth
Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on 1 Jul 2012 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
Driven by increasing local consumer confidence and fast-growing demand from neighbouring emerging markets, the UAE’s demand for imported products is assuredly strong.
Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on 12 Sep 2011 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
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Akaren Chongqing Zhongneng oil Purifier Co.,Ltd on 17 Dec 2012 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
2012 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies for doing business in the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Commercial Service United Arab Emirates on 23 Sep 2012 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
•Supported by the steadily growing oil price, the UAE1 continues to achieve gradual economic growth in 2011.
Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on 31 Dec 2011 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
The United States and the United Arab Emirates have a strong bilateral relationship, based on a joint commitment to the security and stability of the Gulf region. Our two governments also share many similar concerns on a host of other international issues.
U.S. Commercial Service United Arab Emirates on 22 Dec 2009 related to Business Environment in the United Arab Emirates
JOSE RAMON ASIN SANCHEZ, Financials Markets Forrex
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U.S.Department of Commerce, the United Arab Emirates
Government Trade Promotion, Hong Kong SAR