United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates

Statistical Snapshot


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates, located in the southeast region of the Arabian Peninsula. The country’s population is estimated at 9.8 million[1], with the majority of the population living in urban areas at a rate of 86.5 percent.[2] UAE is home to the fifth largest migrant population in the world, with international migrant stock accounting for  87.9 percent of the total population.[3] Given the country’s reliance on foreign workers, the working age group of 15-64 makes up the highest share of the total population at 84.1 percent.[1]


UAE scores the highest on the Human Development Index among Arab countries. At 0.866 (2018), the Emirates is positioned among the very high human development group— ranking 35 out of 189 countries and territories. Life expectancy at birth reached 77.8 in 2018, compared to a regional average of 71.9 years. UAE’s expected years of schooling stood at 13.6, also higher than the regional average of 12 years but lower than the average of countries in the very high HDI group, at 16.4 years.[4] UAE had also recorded high economic ranking in international indices which helped in attracting investment, as a result of an increase in investors’ confidence.[5]


The economy has been recovering gradually from the 2015-2016 slowdown caused by sharp fall in oil prices. Higher crude oil production and the increase in oil prices in 2018 has resulted in an increase in hydrocarbon GDP growth to 2.5 percent in 2018, up from -3.5 percent in 2017. On the other hand, the non-hydrocarbon sector grew at a sluggish 0.7 percent, compared to a growth of 4.8 percent in 2017, owing to the slowdown in non-oil sectors. As a result, real GDP growth was estimated at 1.2 percent in 2018.[5]


In response, the authorities announced reforms in 2018 to boost non-oil growth, promote innovation, improve the competitiveness of the business environment, strengthen the role of the private sector, privatize nonstrategic government-related enterprises (GREs), and improve the ecosystem for SME development. In 2018, the hydrocarbon sector constituted 32 percent of GDP, down from 38 percent in 2010. Over the same period, the share of high-technology exports almost tripled. In 2019, higher hydrocarbon growth at 3.4 percent, coupled by a slower growth of non-hydrocarbon GDP at 1 percent, resulted in an overall real GDP growth of 1.7 percent.[5]


Due to the introduction of a five percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on 1 January 2018, inflation increased from 2 percent in 2017 to 3.1 percent in 2018.[6]
However, as a result of the fading effect of the VAT, the appreciation of the Dirham, the drop in energy prices and the fall in rents, UAE’s Consumer Price Index declined by 1.9 percent in 2019, recording a negative reading for the first time  since the Index was first reported by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) in 2009.[5]


The spread of COVID-19, coupled with travel restrictions and the collapse in oil prices is expected to have considerable impact on oil revenues, trade and tourism. Dubai had witnessed an increase of 5 percent in the number of international tourists in 2019 compared to 2018.[5] Additionally, the IMF projects a drop in growth down to fall to -3.5 percent and fiscal deficit to deteriorate in 2020 to 11.1 percent of GDP.[6] The authorities have announced about 26.5 billion United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) ($ 7.2 billion or 2 percent of GDP) in various fiscal measures to support the private sector.[7]

Nationals are increasingly encouraged to seek employment in the private sector. The 2017 labour force survey shows that 75 percent of the non-Emiratis are employed in the private sector, in comparison to only 7.3 percent in the governmental sector, while 8.2 percent of the Emiratis work in the private, compared to 83.2 percent in the governmental sector. According to the latest national published data, the total unemployment rate is 2.5 percent. The economic participation of women in the labour market remains low at 52.7 percent compared to 92.8 percent for men.[8]


This overview was last updated in April 2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: 
https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 22 April 2020].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: 
https://population.un.org/wup/ [Accessed 22 April 2020].
[3] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). 2019. Population Division. International Migrant Stock. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/estimates19.asp [Accessed 22 April 2020].
[4] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2019. Human Development Report 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2019.pdf   [Accessed 22 April 2020].
[5] Central Bank of the UAE. 2020. Annual Report 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.centralbank.ae/en/publications [Accessed 23 April 2020]
[6] International Monetary Fund. April 2020. World Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2020/01/weodata/index.aspx[Accessed 22 April 2020].
[7] International Monetary Fund. April 2020.  IMF Policy Tracker. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/Policy-Responses-to-COVID-19  [Accessed
[8] Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. 2018. UAE in Numbers. [ONLINE] Available at: https://fcsa.gov.ae/en-us/Pages/Media/Publications.aspx#?id1=1&id2=4 [Accessed 23 April 2020].

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Data Highlights

  • 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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