Exporting to United Arab Emirates
Growing, diverse economy
The UAE’s economy continues to grow and diversification has made it less vulnerable to oil price changes. Dubai has become a major centre for business, logistics, media and leisure. Large investments will be made in infrastructure and other assets associated with Expo 2020 in Dubai, opening up new business opportunities.
Dubai is a regional hub and commercial capital for the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. The UAE is a major entry route into other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and an important market for re-export into other countries. Its liberal trade regime attracts capital from across the region.
The majority of the UAE’s population consists of expats, including a considerable British presence. British companies operating in the UAE include BP, Shell, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Mott McDonald, HSBC, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and John Lewis. Many Emiratis have studied and have homes in the UK, and have a taste for British goods.
High potential industries in the country for UK businesses
There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in the UAE have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.
Education and training
Demand for UK schools and universities
Efforts are underway to bring more British schools to the UAE and secure recognition of UK further and higher education qualifications. There’s also an appetite for more technical and vocational training. UK businesses could collaborate in developing new British schools and universities in the UAE, and in curriculum setting and capacity building.
Demand for teachers and training
The UAE has a fast growing and young population, and demand for a British education is high and continues to grow. This creates opportunities for UK businesses to provide qualified, skilled UK teachers and teacher training.
Oil and gas
The oil and gas sector is a key contributor to GDP and a vital source of income for the UAE. The country has both onshore and offshore oil reserves. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and its subsidiaries manage the oil and gas supply chain and major projects are in the pipeline.
There’s a continuing need for nuclear power in the UEA and the country’s first nuclear power plant is in the pipeline. There are supply chain opportunities for UK businesses in research and development, waste management, and education and training. Companies willing to invest and enter into joint ventures are welcomed.
Environmental sustainability is a priority for the UAE government as it aims to increase the contribution of renewables to the energy mix. This offers opportunities for UK companies with products which can reduce energy usage. UK businesses will also find growth potential in solar power and waste to energy.
Financial and professional services
Dubai International Financial Centre
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an offshore free zone, regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority in line with English law. The centre focuses on banking, capital markets, asset management and fund registration, as well as insurance and reinsurance, Islamic finance and professional services.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market
The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) on Al Maryah Island is the emirate’s fifth financial free zone. It concentrates on private banking, wealth management and asset management.
Opportunities for UK firms
Both the DIFC and ADGM are home to a number of banks and legal, consultancy and insurance firms, including many from the UK. There are opportunities for more companies in the financial and professional services sectors to set up in these free zones.
Demand for UK clinical expertise and products
Newly built medical facilities offer opportunities for UK companies to fill gaps in provision in areas such as oncology, paediatrics, mental health, primary care, trauma, emergency services and long term rehabilitation. There’s also a need for high quality equipment, digital health solutions, high quality training for staff, facilities management and infrastructure construction.
The UAE aims to develop healthcare infrastructure and help the sector to grow to international standards, opening up opportunities for UK companies. Increased investment is creating attractive opportunities for public private partnerships, while the UAE’s healthcare-focused free zones will attract hospitals and associated medical services, with UK Export Finance support.
Demand for UK expertise
There are opportunities to provide both goods and services for infrastructure projects. There’s demand for general construction, specialist sub-contracting and consulting services, and solutions for green buildings and sustainable infrastructure. Building materials, air conditioning and automation systems, water saving devices, and security and swimming pool equipment are also needed.
Opportunities to collaborate
A number of major infrastructure projects are planned or underway. These include the Expo 2020 in Dubai, airport building and expansion, rail and metro line projects and island and waterfront developments, as well as the One Central commercial district and a deep-sewer tunnel project in Dubai.
The government continues to spend on infrastructure projects in line with its national development plans. Major growth in infrastructure is predicted as the country moves away from hydrocarbon dependency. The UAE has and continues to use UK Export Finance to fund projects, which opens up the market for UK companies.