United Arab Emirates Economy - 2021


SOURCE: 2021 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

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Economic overview

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP from the oil and gas sector to 30%.

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE nearly 60 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. The country's free trade zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors.

The global financial crisis of 2008-09, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency and ultimately a $20 billion bailout from the UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi Government that was refinanced in March 2014.

The UAE’s dependence on oil is a significant long-term challenge, although the UAE is one of the most diversified countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to cut expenditures, including on some social programs, but the UAE has sufficient assets in its sovereign investment funds to cover its deficits. The government reduced fuel subsidies in August 2015, and introduced excise taxes (50% on sweetened carbonated beverages and 100% on energy drinks and tobacco) in October 2017. A five-percent value-added tax was introduced in January 2018. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on economic diversification, promoting the UAE as a global trade and tourism hub, developing industry, and creating more job opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.

Real GDP growth rate

0.8% (2017 est.)

3% (2016 est.)

5.1% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 179

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-1.9% (2019 est.)

3% (2018 est.)

1.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 4

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AA- (2020)

Moody's rating: Aa2 (2007)

Standard & Poors rating: AA (2007)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$655.789 billion (2019 est.)

$644.968 billion (2018 est.)

$637.384 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 34

GDP (official exchange rate)

$421.077 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$67,119 (2019 est.)

$66,968 (2018 est.)

$67,184 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 13

Gross national saving

28.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

30.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

30.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 49.8% (2017 est.)

services: 49.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 34.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 12.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 100.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -72.4% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 80.9 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 94.8 (2020)

Trading score: 74.1 (2020)

Enforcement score: 75.9 (2020)

Agricultural products

dates, cucumbers, tomatoes, goat meat, eggs, milk, poultry, carrots/turnips, goat milk, milk

Industries

petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizer, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate

1.8% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Labor force

5.344 million (2017 est.)

note: expatriates account for about 85% of the workforce

country comparison to the world: 74

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7%

industry: 15%

services: 78% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

1.6% (2016 est.)

3.6% (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Population below poverty line

19.5% (2003 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

32.5 (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA

Budget

revenues: 110.2 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 111.1 billion (2017 est.)

note: the UAE federal budget does not account for emirate-level spending in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Taxes and other revenues

28.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Public debt

19.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

20.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$26.47 billion (2017 est.)

$13.23 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Exports

$308.5 billion (2017 est.)

$298.6 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 24

Exports - partners

India 11%, Japan 10%, Saudi Arabia 7%, Switzerland 6%, China 6%, Iraq 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, gold, jewelry, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Imports

$229.2 billion (2017 est.)

$226.5 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Imports - partners

China 15%, India 12%, Untied States 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

gold, broadcasting equipment, jewelry, refined petroleum, diamonds (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$95.37 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$85.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

Debt - external

$237.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$218.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 34

Exchange rates

Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -

3.67315 (2020 est.)

3.67315 (2019 est.)

3.67315 (2018 est.)

3.673 (2014 est.)

3.673 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding United Arab Emirates on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of United Arab Emirates 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about United Arab Emirates 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.