UAE Macroeconomic Overview

The United Arab Emirates has witnessed unprecedented growth and experienced the harsh reality of economic turmoil. After 40 years as a nation, one message is clear, this is one country that will grow and develop together in good times and stand shoulder to shoulder in hard times.

We came into maturity long before anyone anticipated for us to do so and we have demonstrated that we stand with each other in thick or thin. H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE

The UAE has developed infrastructure unrivaled in the region in order to diversify its economy. As the country continues to grow and develop, Industry, Healthcare, and Education, are three sectors currently experiencing positive growth throughout the federation.

Land & Population

The UAE federation is made up of 7 emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah. Since its inception, the UAE has experienced unprecedented economic growth and a boom in population. Over the last decade, the country’s population has increased from 3.4m in 2001 to an estimated 5.4m in 2011.

Growth & Inflation

During the same period, GDP growth has outpaced population growth. GDP has increased from $63.7bn in 2001 to an estimated $358.1bn in 2011, representing a total growth of 462% or an average of 46.2% per annum. GDP per capita has risen from $21,801 in 2000 to $66,625 in 2011 and is significantly higher for locals and Western expats. The UAE is in the top 6 countries in the world in GDP per capita on both nominal and PPP bases, according to the IMF. Inflation rose significantly during the boom years, peaking at over 12% in 2008. Following the global economic slowdown, inflation levels have dropped and 2011 inflation is estimated at approximately 2.5%.

Economic Composition

Energy remains the most significant contributor to overall GDP, accounting for 31.5%. Of all the emirates in the federation, Abu Dhabi is by far the most significant energy player, accounting for nearly 10% of proven global oil reserves and 84% of domestic production in 2010. The biggest non-oil contributors to federal GDP are Trade; Construction; Real Estate and Business Services; Manufacturing; Transport, Storage, and Communication; Finance and Insurance; and Government, which account for 14.9%; 11.6%; 9.9%; 9.7%; 9.1%; 6.8%; and 4.6% of GDP respectively.

Trade & Exports

Among the individual emirates, Dubai leads the way in trade and exports. In 2011, Dubai was the top emirate for both non-oil exports and re-exports, accounting for about 81% of the country’s totals in both categories. The UAE’s biggest trade partner is India, which is both the top export destination and the top import source for UAE goods. The UAE-Indian trade relationship was valued at over $43bn in 2011. Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Kuwait round out the UAE’s top 5 export markets while, China, the US, Germany, and Japan follow India as the country’s leading trade partners in terms of imports.