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UAE’s non-oil foreign trade booms; hitting record $953 billion in 2023

This marks a 26% increase from the previous year.

UAE’s non-oil foreign trade booms; hitting record $953 billion in 2023
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Amidst global uncertainties, the UAE is steering towards a sustainable future beyond oil, propelled by diversification efforts and strategic partnerships. The country aims to achieve its target of $1.08 trillion in non-oil trade by 2031.

In 2023, the UAE achieved a record-breaking year in non-oil foreign trade, reaching $953 billion. This marks a 26% increase from the previous year.

The non-oil sector vastly outperformed overall GDP growth in the first six months of 2023, surging almost 6% compared to an overall increase of 3.7%.

Now, non-oil exports of goods make up over 17 % of the country’s total non-oil foreign trade, compared with 13% in 2018.

“We indicated at the beginning of 2023 that it would be a record year for the economy,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on social media platform X. “The UAE has cemented new bridges of cooperation through comprehensive partnership agreements.”

The signing of comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPAs) with key partners like India, Turkey, and Indonesia played a crucial role in boosting trade, with the total value exceeding $106.3 billion. 

Non-oil commodity exports have emerged as a driving force behind this expansion, experiencing a remarkable surge of 16.7%. Gold, aluminum, oils, and other valuable commodities topped the list of exports.

China maintained its position as the UAE’s primary trading partner, with India, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey following closely behind. The top 10 included Iraq, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan, and Oman.

The services sector also witnessed a significant boost, with the trade surplus reaching $56.3 billion, mainly driven by the thriving travel and tourism industry. Dubai, a global tourism hub, saw a record-breaking year with international tourist arrivals exceeding 17 million, a 19.4% annual increase, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels.

Expanding services sectors in UAE also include information and communication technology, financial services, and professional services.

The Innovation By Design Summit is in Doha on April 24. Attendance at the summit is by invitation only. Delegates can register here to receive their exclusive invite.

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