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United Arab Emirates´ major exports and imports-Header.jpg

United Arab Emirates´ major exports and imports

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Updated on 26 Dec 2023
5 min read
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The United Arab Emirate is a melting pot of various interesting economic activities from tourism to oil production and plenty of other services in between. This country was once, not so very long ago, considered a backwater by many who have now become key allies in trade and commerce with them.

The secret to the UAE’s success in the region and globally has been diversification in their economic endeavors so that they are not wholly reliant on just one aspect of their natural endowments. The economy of the UAE is second biggest in the Middle East and they heavily rely on ocean freight for both their imports and exports. Here are their main

Saudi Arabia´s Main Exports

Crude Oil

Despite the country’s very diverse economic activities especially in Dubai, it still remains very reliant on the revenue generated by the exportation of crude oil. Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the country, is especially more dependent on the oil revenue because it is responsible for more intricate financial, communication and transportation obligations since it is the capital.

The UAE Central bank figures put their revenue for 2019 from crude oil exports at $66.2 billion which is almost a 14% jump from 2017’s $58 billion. Since the country has considerable oil and energy reserves it continues to hold the position of the seventh largest producer of crude oil globally not to mention one of the top four biggest producer’s of petroleum liquids within OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

Natural Gas

Natural gas is part of the United Arab Emirate’s major export and the country has the seventh biggest reserve of natural gas worldwide. The nation exported 7,087 cubic meters of natural gas by 2018 December. Each Emirate controls its own oil and natural gas production and the corresponding resources and utilized within the Emirate.

Abu Dhabi holds the lion share of the oil and natural gas reserves both onshore and offshore with 94% natural gas in reserves. It’s followed by Sharjah and Dubai with 4% and 1.5% respectively. Ras al Khaimah has the least natural gas reserves. In total all the emirates produce 4.65 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. The country exports its natural gas to among other countries Qatar and other countries in the region, and is part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).


The UAE is the fourth largest exporter of the date fruit globally. According to the Dubai Chamber the value of the emirate’s date trade reached $221 million in 2016. The UAE’s other emirates are also massive producers of dates but Dubai tends to produce nearly 40% of the country’s dates for export.

Their import partners for dates include immediate neighbor Oman and further afield it is North African countries, nations in South East Asia, and Europe. Muslim countries are major consumers of dates but the fruit is also immensely popular in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and France which is one of the largest importers of dates from the UAE. Dates from the emirates also have a massive market share in the United States and Canada.

United Arab Emirates´ Main Imports


The United Arab Emirates sits on a wide expanse of desert land and the climate is generally sunny, humid with mild rain during the “winter” season. The days are generally hot and the nights can get very cold. As a result sustained food production in the country is a huge challenge. The country’s food import partners include the United States, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India, Netherlands, France, the UK, Turkey, Thailand and Bulgaria. Pakistan and South Korea provide additional rations of rice and noodles for the UAE market.

By 2025 the food imports in the UAE are projected to increase from $100 billion registered in 2015 to $400 billion. 85% of the country’s food is imported but the UAE is setting up initiatives to reclaim some level of food sustainability within the country. They intend to incentivize farmers by exempting them from VAT on their products and other initiatives that involve the care and protection of local livestock.


The UAE imports chemicals used in the production of medicine and other chemical supplies used in industry from the United States, Australia, Germany, India, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Chemicals are considered raw materials for various uses within the country because the nation doesn’t have chemical reserves to rely upon.

They rely heavily on import coming through the Strait of Hormuz which is a sensitive gateway to trade. If there are disruptions along the route the UAE’s petroleum industry (and other industries) will not be able to function. As such the country is always on the lookout for routes that can bring and chemicals without any disruption.

Transport equipments

Overall the GCC countries transport equipment and machinery make up two thirds of the regions import goods. The UAE is the second largest importer of US equipment and machinery second only to Saudi Arabia. The country imports machinery ranging from medical equipment, industrial machinery, cars, power generating machinery and general industrial equipment.

The Chinese also have a huge market share of the equipment imports that go into the UAE especially when it comes to equipment and machinery used in the manufacturing sectors.

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