The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has come a long way in its relatively brief time as an independent country. In less than fifty years, the state has gone from being wholly dependent on oil revenues to being one of the region’s pre-eminent powers and on the verge of launching the Arab World’s first space probe. So how has the country managed to get itself into such a strong position so quickly?
There are many answers to that question. One of the most interesting is that the UAE has never been shy of importing the solutions it needs. Like every country, it faces many challenges – but unlike many other countries its rulers are comfortable operating on the principle that prosperity depends in large part on attracting the best of what the world has to offer. Therefore 88% of the population are foreign-born, 80% of food consumed in the country comes from somewhere else and the boutiques of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are stocked with American and European as well as Emirati brands.
This happy set of circumstances will not last forever. While the government of the United Arab Emirates works hard to attract investment from overseas, it has been working just as hard to become less reliant on it. To that end the UAE has bought up vast swathes of arable land in Africa and elsewhere to increase its food security. It is rapidly developing its high-tech manufacturing sector and is investing heavily in renewable energy projects. There will come a day when market saturation and local industry mean that opportunities for international companies are less plentiful. In the meantime, there’s never been a better time for British companies to expand their operations into the region.
Other countries’ businesses are responding well to the UAE’s overtures and are growing their presence in the country. The UK needs to ensure that it maintains its place at the very front of this charge. Figures released in January by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) suggest that despite excellent efforts from various government and private agencies to encourage more UK businesses to start exporting their products, the same proportion of companies are exporting their goods as were two years ago. All of this comes at a time when demand for all things British has never been higher, particularly from the United Arab Emirates, where the high standard of living drives demand for exactly the kinds of things the UK does so well.
There are still huge opportunities for British companies in finance, logistics, construction, high-tech manufacturing, education, food & beverage, oil & gas and fashion. With Brexit looming and with the UAE in the ascendency, getting more British business into this most promising of markets must be a top priority if the United Kingdom is not to squander its strong position.
Enjoyed our composition on the UAE? See what Saudi Arabia has to offer with our recent article.
Written by Christina Massaad, Managing Director
*** The sole purpose of the article above is to generate public discussion, it has no intention to constitute legal advice. ***
Sourced Image: Air India Express