The UAE Cabinet approved the National Agenda for Non-oil Export Development in June 2021, underlining a shift by the Arab Gulf to diversify away from non-oil exports. Although the Agenda did not explicitly define the 50% growth target nor the 25 markets and 14 sectors targeted, the overall objective of the strategy is to strengthen the UAE’s non-oil export and re-export position, promote national products and open new international markets through trade partnerships.
In 2020, the UAE exported to more than 230 markets in the world, up from 200 in 2019. While in 2020 the UAE’s total export earnings fell 13% year-on-year with hydrocarbon export earnings down 36.1%, non-oil exports fell only by 4.9%, reflecting the robustness of the country’s non-oil export activities.
Gold and telephone / cellular devices are at the top of the UAE’s export list, accounting for an export value of GBP 36.21 billion and GBP 20.89 billion respectively in 2020. Other products that offer the greatest export potential from the UAE include machinery and electricity, plastics & rubbers, motor vehicles & spare parts and other metals.
For UK firms considering international expansion to the Middle East, setting up a regional base in the UAE provides significant opportunity where UK companies not only benefit from its favorable geographical location, but also to gain access to the country’s competitive logistics infrastructure including airports, seaports, free zones and warehouses, offering UK companies a gateway to the region and the rest of the world.