United Arab Emirates: wealthy Gulf state looks beyond oil – business & finance

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates, which turns 50 on December 2, is a rich oil state and an economic center in the Gulf that has become one of the most influential countries in the region.

Majority of expatriates

The United Arab Emirates is a federal state made up of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah Umm al-Qaiwain and Ras al-Khaimah.

Ninety percent of its 10 million inhabitants are foreigners.

The capital Abu Dhabi, and especially Dubai, are extremely well-served air hubs and are also home to the regional headquarters of thousands of companies.

In recent years, the UAE has relaxed its residence regulations to boost its economy and attract more foreign investment.

Economic power

With an economy just behind Saudi Arabia in the Gulf, the Emirates is one of the easiest countries in the world to do business, according to the World Bank.

One of OPEC’s major oil producers, the federation’s rapid growth since the 1970s has been driven by its oil and gas wealth.

But having diversified its economy over the decades, it depends less and less on oil, its income now representing only 30% of its GDP.

In August, the United Arab Emirates joined the nuclear club, with the commissioning of the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first in the Arab world.

It also has one of the most vaccinated populations in the world against Covid-19, according to official sources.


With little oil but the Gulf’s most diverse economy, Dubai has grown from a fishing village to a major financial, transport and media hub in the space of a few decades.

Known for its glitzy shopping malls and forest of skyscrapers, including the tallest in the world, the Burj Khalifa, it has become a major tourist destination.

Abu Dhabi is home to a branch of the Louvre, with its art collection housed in a spectacular museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

Expo 2020 Dubai opened in October after being postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

The first time that one of the world fairs has taken place in the Arab world, it is expected to attract millions of visitors before it closes on March 31.

Regional force

The Emirates and Gulf ally Bahrain normalized relations with Israel last year amid mounting tensions with Iran, which they have accused in the past of fueling tensions in the region.

The United Arab Emirates and Tehran have been at daggers drawn since 1971 over three disputed Gulf islands that Iran occupied.

The Emirates also restored diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016, as rivalry between neighboring Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic intensified.

Despite the tensions, the two states maintained commercial ties.

Earlier this month, the UAE drew criticism from its US allies when its chief diplomat Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the first official visit to Damascus since the start. of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

Hi everyone ‘MBZ’

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, also a ruler of Abu Dhabi, has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2014.

Her half-brother, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, or “MBZ”, is the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates.

Space missions

The Emirates also aim to become a major player in science and technology, sending its first astronaut into space in 2019 for eight days aboard the International Space Station.

In February 2021, the United Arab Emirates sent a probe named “Amal” (Hope) into orbit around Mars, the first Arab country to achieve such a feat.

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