United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Do you want to export to The United Arab Emirates? Start by using the Country Commercial Guide, a trusted resource for companies.

Last published date: 2022-07-26


Ongoing supply chain disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact the UAE and countries around the world. Every effort has been made to use the latest data, yet much of the available data is from 2019, 2018, and recent years. Please contact our office for updates and the latest information.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been the top U.S. export market in the Middle East and Africa region for the last 12 years and is a global hub for over 1,500 American companies doing business throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. The UAE has a dynamic economy, which is diversifying as it aims to transform itself into a knowledge economy over the next decade. The UAE’s openness to international business and strategic location as a gateway to the region create business opportunities and make the UAE an attractive market for U.S. exporters.

The pandemic dealt a twin blow to the UAE’s economy, driving down oil prices and reducing the country’s oil revenues, and significantly impacting the non-oil economy that was dependent on aviation, tourism, and trade. As a result, real GDP fell by 6.1% in 2020, before picking up with a growth rate of 2.1% in 2021 and a projected growth rate of 3% in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund. Amidst this disruption, UAE officials are implementing notable reforms to attract investment and capture first-mover advantages in several sectors.

National and Emirate-level governments invest heavily in economic diversification and growth. With oil reserves and sovereign wealth funds valued at approximately $1.3 trillion, the UAE has resources, without the structural liabilities some of its neighbors must sustain, to help it navigate the volatility of the oil market and other challenges. The UAE aims to expand as a regional trade, logistics, tourism, and digital hub.

The UAE is home to world-class trade events and visiting or exhibiting at a trade event can be a great way to learn about and expand in the UAE and the region.

Top trade events with U.S. Pavilions include:

  • ADIPEC (Energy), Abu Dhabi, October 31 - November 4, 2022.
  • Arab Health (Healthcare), Dubai, January 30 - February 4, 2023.
  • IDEX International Defense Exhibition (Defense), Abu Dhabi, February 20-24, 2023.
  • Dubai Airshow (Aerospace and Defense), Dubai, November 12-16, 2023.

While the UAE has a bright future and presents many opportunities for U.S. companies in the long term, the UAE market’s structural and regulatory challenges require preparation and foresight. These are covered in the sections discussing challenges and intellectual property rights as well as other chapters. Due diligence is highly recommended, as it is when doing business in any international market, and it is important to be wary of scams and frauds - we receive frequent inquiries from U.S. companies solicited by alleged UAE investors and buyers that turn out to be scams.

To summarize, the UAE offers an attractive long-term market while presenting near-term challenges primarily associated with fallout from the pandemic. That said, of all the potential markets in the Middle East Africa region, the UAE cannot be overlooked due to its forward-looking outlook, ambitious vision, and healthy balance sheet, thanks to its significant sovereign wealth. Our team of experienced commercial specialists in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are ready to assist U.S. companies to enter and expand in this market and we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities in the region.

Political & Economic Environment:  State Department’s website for background on the country’s political environment.