United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates










United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, where nationals represent 11.4% of the total population (2010) due to significantly high immigration rate.[2] In 2015, the population of UAE was estimated at 9.1 million, up from 3 million in 2000.[1] The country’s reliance on foreign workers reflects the high working age group of 15-64 that makes up the greatest share of the total population – about 85% of the population in 2015 compared to 74% in 2000.[1] 85% of the country’s population live in urban areas, compared to 80.2% in 2000.[3] 

The Emirates has invested a lot in education. In 2015, adult literacy rate reached 92.9%, [4] and the primary enrollment rate averaged 106.7% in 2014, increasing from 99.1% in 2003 and reaching the gender parity. [5] At the tertiary level, enrollment increased from 15.8% in 2007 to 22.0% in 2014, but registering a drop in the Gender Parity Index (GPI) from 3.3 to 2.3.[4]

The economy of the UAE is the third largest among Arab countries, succeeding that of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. With a GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) of Int$ 605.3 billion and a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of Int$ 70,570 in 2015,[5] mining and quarrying (at 23.7% of GDP in2015) and manufacturing (at 30.9% of GDP in 2014) are the main drivers of growth in the economy.[6] The GDP growth (constant 2005 prices) decreased to 3.9% in 2015, down from 4.6% in 2014 as a result of lower energy prices,[7] and they are expected to weigh on growth in 2016. As a result, the country has been in deficit since 2009, with the cash deficit decreasing from 16.8% of GDP in 2009 to 5.4% of GDP in 2014[6] Between 2014 and 2015, oil revenues as a percentage of total government revenues, dropped by 30.5%.[6] Since 2001, the public debt has been increasing gradually from 2.7% of GDP to 19.4% of GDP in 2015.[7] In order to address the international drop in oil prices, UAE has eliminated fuel subsidies in 2015.[11]

Although UAE is becoming less dependent on natural resources, oil and gas exports accounted for a proportion of 50% of total exports.[8] The economy’s dependency on exports of oil and natural gas increases its vulnerability to external shocks. Additional exports include pearls, stones, and other precious and base metals, while imports mainly consist of pearls, stones, other precious metals, machinery, and other equipment and transport vehicles.[2] UAE’s geographical location allows it to be a significantly large re-export market, as re-exports increased from 48.15 billion Emirati Dirham in 2000 to 538.8 billion Emirati Dirham in 2014.[8]

UAE is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA). The Emirates concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Singapore and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and is now cooperating with the GCC to sign FTAs with the EU, Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Australia, South Korea and the Mercosur bloc, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.[9] 

Similar to the other GCC countries, the United Arab Emirates depends heavily on migrant labor, where the recent security concerns led to reforms in the migration policies, and the nationals are being encouraged to explore employment opportunities offered by the private sector.


The economic participation of women in the labour market remains a challenge. Women participate less in the labor market, as their labor force participation rate averaged 41.9% compared to 91.6% of men in 2015.[10] The unemployment rate increased from 2.3% in 2000 to 4.2 % in 2010, then slightly declined to 3.7% in 2015.10] Youth unemployment rate has also increased over the last years, from 6% in 2000 to 11.1% in 2015.[10] 

The United Arab Emirates is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). The country relies heavily on its large oil and natural gas resources to support its economy and is considered a major oil producer and exporter. In 2013, UAE produced 1.02 billion barrels of crude oil up from 693.6 million barrels in 2002. In addition, the UAE exported 2.7 million barrel per day of crude oil in 2013. The country is also a major consumer of petroleum products; in 2013, total petroleum products consumption accounted for 614 thousand barrels per day. In order to meet its internal energy demand, it imports large amounts of petroleum products which accounted for 6.98 million metric ton in 2013.[2]

UAE is also the main producer of natural gas, where natural gas production registered 83.8 billion standard cubic meter in 2013. However, the increase in the consumption of natural gas made the UAE a net importer of natural gas in 2008 with imports leveling at 29.1 billion cubic meter in 2013.[2]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016.


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) – United Arab Emirates
  3. World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  4. UNESCO Institute for Statistics
  5. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  6. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FSCA), United Arab Emirates
  7. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  8. Central Bank of UAE
  9. World Trade Organization, Trade Policy Review 2012, UAE
  10. KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)
  11. IMF Country Report No. 15/219, August 2015

United Arab Emirates Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • The country relies heavily on its large oil and natural gas resources to support its economy and is considered a major oil producer and exporter. In 2016, UAE produced 1.1 billion barrels of crude oil up from 693.6 million barrels in 2002. In addition, the UAE exported 2.41 million barrel per day of crude oil in 2016.

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