United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges
Last published date:

The UAE is a premier business hub and open market in the Middle East, yet there are challenges facing exporters and foreign companies doing business in the UAE. Many challenges are covered in more detail in later chapters.

Challenges include: 

Payment delays and issues

  • Scams and frauds frequently target foreign companies, especially small and medium sized enterprises.
  • Non-transparent tendering processes.
  • Lack of a unified government tender online platform.
  • Problematic commercial agent agreement termination rules.
  • Lengthy and complicated dispute resolution processes.
  • Onerous national workforce development requirements.

Delayed Payments 

Late payments are an ongoing challenge, especially in public-sector procurements. Companies that have significant experience with government procurement report that they have carried government receivables for years. U.S. companies should be sure to conduct due diligence, carefully consider payment terms, and take advantage of resources to include the U.S. Export-Import Bank, letters of credit, or payment before shipment. U.S. companies may contact the U.S. Commercial Service if payment delays persist. 

Scams, Frauds, and Unsolicited Offers 

Scams and frauds are an ongoing challenge. Scams and frauds frequently target foreign companies, especially small and medium sized enterprises. Due diligence is crucial. U.S. companies should be wary of unverified entities promising lucrative business deals and should never send money without conducting due diligence. If you receive an unsolicited offer, be especially wary. U.S. companies may contact the U.S. Commercial Service, especially if a suspicious unsolicited offer is received. An International Company Profile due diligence service is also available.

Note: The global COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide economic downturn impacted the UAE, as it did in every country around the world. The pandemic created an unprecedented economic crisis as oil prices declined, cutting the UAE’s oil revenues significantly, and as the non-oil economy suffered from severe declines in the tourism, aviation, and trade and logistics sectors. The downturn made economic projections uncertain. Every effort has been made to use the latest data, yet much of the available data is from recent years. Please contact our office for updates and the latest information.