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The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Dhabi, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. The UAE essentially avoided the "Arab Spring" unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East in 2010-11 and in an effort to stem potential unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates and aggressively pursued advocates of political reform. The UAE in recent years has played a vital role in regional affairs. In addition to donating billions of dollars in economic aid to help stabilize Egypt, the UAE is a member of a US-led global coalition to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and a coalition partner in a Saudi-led military campaign to restore the government of Yemen.


Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia

Natural Resources

petroleum, natural gas

Population - distribution

population is heavily concentrated to the northeast on the Musandam Peninsula; the three largest emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah - are home to nearly 85% of the population

Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
Dubai 2.415 million; Sharjah 1.279 million; ABU DHABI (capital) 1.145 million (2015)
Conventional long form
United Arab Emirates
Conventional short form
Local long form
Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
Local short form
federation of monarchies
Abu Dhabi
Geographic coordinates
24 28 N, 54 22 E
Time difference
UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
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 from the oil and gas sector to 30%.
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 353,764,465,623
Exports of goods and services
US$ 362,069,434,990
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 8,795,098,707
Commercial Service Exports
dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish
petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizer, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles
crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates (2012 est.)
Iran 13.6%, Oman 11.3%, Japan 9.2%, India 8%, China 4.4% (2015)
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food
China 15.4%, India 12.6%, US 9.6%, Germany 6.7%, Oman 4.5%, UK 4.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A somewhat shaky political and economic outlook and a relatively volatile business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is still acceptable on average.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is good. When available, corporate financial information is reliable. Debt collection is reasonably efficient. Institutions generally perform efficiently. Intercompany transactions usually run smoothly in the relatively stable environment rated A2.
  • Among the most diversified economies in the Middle East
  • †Importance of Abu Dhabi, which holds 90% of the United Arab Emirates’ substantial hydrocarbon reserves
  • †Dubai's growing importance in services (regional business center, world’s seventh biggest port)
  • Important financial base thanks to the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund
  • †Political stability of the Federation
  • Diverse economies, still dependent on Abu Dhabi's hydrocarbon revenues
  • High external debt of Dubai's para-public entities
  • Quasi-public entities lack transparency
  • Problem of demographic balance, due to the size of the foreign population

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