United Arab Emirates: Economy#

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 based on oil and gas output to 25%.

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 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.

Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to take steps to reduce its social spending, including eliminating fuel subsidies in August 2015, but the UAE has sufficient assets to cover its deficits with money from its sovereign investment funds. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on economic diversification and creating more job opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$667.2 billion (2016 est.)
$652.4 billion (2015 est.)
$627.6 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$375 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate2.3% (2016 est.)
4% (2015 est.)
3.1% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$67,700 (2016 est.)
$68,100 (2015 est.)
$67,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving20.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
25.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
38.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 61.1%
government consumption: 9.3%
investment in fixed capital: 29.7%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 81.5%
imports of goods and services: -82.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 0.7%
industry: 44.6%
services: 54.7% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsdates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish
Industriespetroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles
Industrial production growth rate0.6% (2016 est.)
Labor force5.242 million
note: expatriates account for about 85% of the workforce (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate2.4% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line19.5% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $90.13 billion
expenditures: $113 billion

note: the UAE federal budget does not account for emirate-level spending in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues24% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-6.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt60.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
51.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)3.4% (2016 est.)
4.1% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rateNA%
Stock of narrow money$129.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$124.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$337.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$327.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$387.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$370.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$195.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$201.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$180.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Current account balance$4.244 billion (2016 est.)
$12.31 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$316 billion (2016 est.)
$333.3 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiescrude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates (2012 est.)
Exports - partnersIran 14.5%, Japan 9.8%, India 9.2%, China 4.7%, Oman 4.3% (2015)
Imports$246.9 billion (2016 est.)
$243.9 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food
Imports - partnersChina 15.7%, India 12.8%, US 9.7%, Germany 6.8%, UK 4.4% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$84.93 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$93.93 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$220.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$204.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$132.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$126.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$94.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$90.86 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesEmirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -
3.673 (2016 est.)
3.673 (2015 est.)
3.673 (2014 est.)
3.673 (2013 est.)
3.67 (2012 est.)