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The United Arab Emirates is competitive in many areas of economic freedom. Barriers to trade are quite low, and regulations support open-market policies. With a favorable business climate and political stability, the UAE has created a dynamic entrepreneurial environment for international investors. The financial sector’s overall soundness has improved substantially since the Dubai debt crisis of 2009.

The UAE, the world’s eighth largest oil producer, maintains a free-market economy and is also one of the most politically stable and secure in the region. This ensures that the country has a robust competitive edge as the region’s premier commercial hub and second largest economy.

Although oil has been the mainstay of the UAE economy and continues to contribute significantly to economic prosperity, a determined and far-seeing policy of economic diversification has ensured that non-oil sectors now account for 69 per cent of GDP, with oil supplying the remaining third.

The year 2020 has further significance for Dubai since it the year (and into the jubilee year 2021) that it will host the first ever World Expo to be held in a region that extends from Morocco to India. Expo 2020 expects to welcome 25 million visitors to its many attractions. As well as driving tourism, the Expo will also create thousands of new jobs and enormous demand for new facilities, including housing, hotels, shopping malls and entertainment complexes.

Trade has played a major role in UAE economic life for many centuries. This is not altogether surprising considering the country’s strategic geographical position. However, focused and far-seeing investment in airports, ports and services, as well as an enabling business environment, has ensured that the UAE has become an important trading hub connecting regional markets to the outside world. Steady recovery of most economic sectors has also led to an increase of foreign trade.

The UAE’s economy is the most closely integrated of all the Arab economies into the global economic system and efforts are continuing to enhance the country’s business friendly environment, both to facilitate trade and attract inflows of foreign direct investment, which will help to achieve balanced, sustainable development. This process continues through the signature of many bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements. Locally, these efforts have embraced reforms and updating of legislation, including a new Competition Law, which came into effect in 2014.

Very High GDP per Capita, Growing Steadily

United Arab Emirates’s gross domestic product (GDP) is $402B. United Arab Emirates’s GDP per capita is $43,962.70, which is 6.7 times higher than the world average of $6,573.39. Such a high GDP per capita suggests economic productivity levels and standards of living are high.

United Arab Emirates’s GDP is growing at a rate of 4.57% per year. This growth rate is 1.48% greater than the average for all countries (3.10%) for all countries (3.10%) and about average for all countries in Western Asia (4.46%) for all countries in Western Asia (4.46%).

United Arab Emirates’s GDP per capita is growing at a rate of 4.04% per year.

GDP per Capita:

  • Worldwide Rank: 29th
  • Western Asia Rank: 2nd

GDP

  • Worldwide Rank: 31st
  • Western Asia Rank: 3rd

Reasons for Doing Business in the UAE

Robust open economy
The UAE has a vibrant free economy, a significant proportion of its revenues arising from exports of oil and gas. Successful efforts have been made to diversify away from dependence on hydrocarbons and a solid industrial base has been created, together with a very strong services sector. The establishment of free zones has been an important feature of this diversification policy and reform of property laws gave a major boost to real estate and tourism sectors.

  • Consistently Easy to do Business
  • United Arab Emirates is the 31st easiest countryto do business in out of 189 surveyed countries, according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. The index averages 10 topics covered in the survey ranging from credit to finding employees and starting a business.
  • According to the index, United Arab Emirates is one of the easiest places to do business in 2015, and has not changed its rank significantly since last year.

Security and stability

Since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has enjoyed an enviable degree of political stability, unequalled in the region. This has enabled the implementation of consistent sound economic policies and the reinforcing of the country’s social structure to produce one of the most tolerant, prosperous, secure and safest societies in the world. Dubai and Abu Dubai have been ranked the top two cities in the Middle East region for quality of life, according to the latest edition of a global survey. Long-time investors include a wide range of multinational companies headquartered across the globe.

Tax-efficient business environment

Special economic zones and free zones offer 100 per cent ownership, repatriation of profit and capital as well as exemptions from taxes. Outside of these areas, significant incentives are being offered to investors and corporate governance provisions ensuring transparency and accountability are being enforced. Corporate taxes are reserved only for branches of foreign banks and oil-producing companies. A negligible 5 per cent tariff is imposed on goods imported from non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, although tobacco and alcohol products are subject to 50 per cent customs duties.

Proximity to growth regions

The UAE’s strategic location between Asia, Europe and Africa is a major advantage to investors, particularly the country’s proximity to some of the world’s fastest growing economies in Asia. Collectively India and China alone comprise almost 40 per cent of the world’s total population and support a combined GDP in excess of US$5 trillion, providing significant economic and trading opportunities.

Intellectual property protection

Intellectual property, including patents and trademarks, is legally protected in the UAE and considerable efforts are being made to implement these laws. The country is also a member of international bodies, treaties and conventions that safeguard intellectual property, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Trade Organization (WTO), Paris Convention, Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), WIPO Copyright Treaty, WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and the Rome Convention.

Solid infrastructure

Infrastructure in the UAE is second to none. Telecommunications, including mobile and fixed telephony as well as internet access is on par, if not better, than the world’s largest international business hubs. The road network is constantly upgraded and ports and airports are of world-class standards. In addition, the UAE is creating one of the world’s biggest and most efficient cargo handling centers. To date, the Government has invested heavily in infrastructure development, but it has also opened up its utilities and other infrastructure to greater private sector involvement, so much so that public-private partnerships are now the norm.

Multi-national human resources

Investors benefit from an abundant supply of human resource skills, courtesy of professionals migrating to the emirate from nearly every country in the globe, as well as the increasing number of UAE nationals that are joining the private sector.