Population (2020): 9.9 million
GDP (2020): US$421.1 billion (S$571.6 billion)
World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” Rank (2020): 16
Bilateral Trade with Singapore (2020): S$12.8 billion
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most attractive business destinations in the Middle East. Your business in the UAE will have ready access to skilled labour, modern communications and transport networks, and excellent infrastructure. The investment climate in the UAE is generally stable.
The UAE is the easiest country to do business within the Middle East1. It topped global rankings for business processes such as getting construction permits and registering property. The law protects minority investors and enforces contracts, giving you ease of mind when you invest there.
The UAE is often seen as a safe landing spot that provides companies access to a growing population of close to 600 million across the MENA region.
1 World Bank's annual “Doing Business” 2018 report
In 2020, the UAE was Singapore’s largest trading partner within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Bilateral trade was valued at S$12.8 billion. It is also the third largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region and the most diversified economy within the GCC with the non-oil sector accounting for 70% of the GDP.
The UAE is strategically located between Asia, Europe and Africa. As a key logistics and distribution node in the GCC, the UAE links shipping routes and facilitates transportation of goods between Middle East and the rest of the world.
The UAE has 45 Free Trade Zones (FTZs), each tailored to specific industries, from logistics and power, to media and information technology. These convenient bases allow for 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, and full import and export tax exemptions. You will also enjoy corporate tax exemptions of up to 50 years, no personal income taxes, and get support to recruit your employees.
Take advantage of the minimal trade barriers and tariffs within the region to trade goods at competitive prices. Singapore companies which have ventured to the UAE are in a diverse range of sectors, from financial services to urban solutions. They are present across several Emirates including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, and Sharjah.
For much of the past two decades, retailers in the Middle East, particularly those in the GCC countries, have benefited from a favourable consumer economy. Apparel, electronics, grocery, and other retail segments have achieved profits and returns above the global industry average.2
Consumers in the region are willing to spend their fast-growing disposable incomes, which were rising at two to three times the global average. Strong consumer spending drove the strongest period of growth that the Middle East had ever seen.3
Singapore companies can consider investing in the food industry in the UAE, such as in modern grocery retail. Consumers in the Middle East are now increasingly relying on supermarkets for food purchases. Sales from supermarkets account for nearly half of all food retail sales in the UAE. Singapore food companies can use the UAE as a base to expand your business to the region.
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2 World Bank's annual “Doing Business” 2018 report
3 “Retailing in the Middle East: How to recapture profitable growth”, McKinsey & Company, November 2017