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Dubai’s Major Markets and Exports

Iran’s animosity with the Western countries, primarily the USA, has made it difficult for the country to import its requirements for transport equipment, machineries, and electrical/electronic equipment, making the country dependent on its neighboring countries, especially the UAE, for supply. This situation has made Iran Dubai’s leading export market.

On the other hand, proximity of India and the presence of a very large Indian expatriate population and businesses have ensured regular trade routes between Dubai and India, making the latter second only to Iran as Dubai’s export market with export share of 11 8 percent. The recent surge in gold and diamond trading between the two areas led to an average annual growth of 71 percent in Dubai’s exports to India during the period. Total exports of Dubai to India during the 5-year period reached AED 68 billion. Pakistanis form one of the largest expatriate population groups in Dubai; cementing close economic ties between the two economies and establishing regular trade routes between the two areas. Dubai’s 5-year exports to Pakistan reached AED 21 billion, for a 4-percent share to the total and an annual average growth of 29 percent.

Export marketTotal value (in AED bn)Share to Total (%)Annual average growth (%)
Saudi Arabia35.45.711.9
Hong Kong15.82.518.2
Sum (Major market)417.267.127.9
SUM (Other markets)204.232.928.6
TOTAL (World)621.4100.028.0
Source of data: Statistics Department, PCFC, Dubai

The GCC countries had long been major markets of Dubai exports, even before the implementation of Customs Union, with Saudi Arabia being the largest. During the 5- year period, exports to Saudi Arabia reached 35 billion, for a share of almost 6 percent 9 and an annual growth of 12 percent. The second largest GCC export market was Kuwait, with total exports of AED 18 billion; followed by Qatar, AED 11 billion; Bahrain, AED 9 billion; and Oman, AED 6 billion. Together, total exports to GCC reached AED 79 billion, for a combined share of 13 percent and an average annual growth of 14 percent.

Conditions in Iraq had made international trading very difficult. However, Dubai had long established trade routes in the country and this has continued during the period in review, when total exports of AED 35 billion had been recorded, for a share of 6 percent and an average annual growth of 43 percent.

Switzerland, Belgium and Hong Kong are major destinations of Dubai’s gold and diamond exports, and primarily because of this that these three countries have become major export markets of Dubai. During the last 5 years, total exports to Switzerland was recorded to be AED 23 billion, while exports to Belgium reached AED 20 billion; and to Hong Kong, AED 16 billion. Respective average annual growths were 65, 67 and 18 percent.

Netherlands is a major port of entry for goods coming to the European Union. Thus, the country is Dubai’s major export market, along with the United Kingdom (UK). Respective value of exports to these two countries were AED 15 and 10 billion, with corresponding shares of about 2 percent each, and average annual growth of 102 and 19 percent.

The USA maintains a close friendly relation with the UAE. Trade between the two countries has been vibrant. The USA has been in the list of Dubai’s top import markets, as well as top export markets. During the 5-year period, Dubai’s exports to USA reached AED 15 billion, representing a share of 2 percent and an average annual growth of 14 percent.

In addition to Iran and the GCC, other large export markets of Dubai in the MENA region were Egypt and Libya, with respective value of Dubai’s exports of AED 11 and 10 billion, corresponding to shares of about 2 percent each and average annual growths of 34 and 22 percent.

Together, total exports to the above markets during the 5-year period amounted to AED 417 billion, for a total share of 67 percent and an average annual growth of 28 percent, actually slightly lower than the average annual growth of exports to the other markets, indicating Dubai’s equally strong exporting activities in its relatively smaller markets.