Leading Industries in the UAE

John Varghese, Managing Partner


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    The UAE has the most diversified economy in the GCC. The country was reliant on oil and gas for centuries; but of late the government has started giving equal prominence to all the sectors. The move has helped the government in increasing its revenue and has led to an impressive development in sectors that include tourism, retail, manufacturing etc. Some of the leading industries in the UAE, that has been contributing immensely to the economy of the country include;


    The retail industry has been witnessing a massive growth in the UAE, specifically Dubai. With numerous global retail players having established their base in the country, the industry is expected to thrive in the coming years.

    According to reports, the value of retail sales in Dubai alone is expected to reach $43.8bn by the year 2020 and a growth of 5.6 percent is expected in the time period 2018-2021.

    Dubai hosts some of the biggest shopping festivals in the world, that helps in boosting the local sales of retailers.


    Hospitality is another fast-growing sector in the UAE, that has experienced envious growth over the past decade. Dubai attracts visitors from across the globe and is one of the most visited cities, with 15.93 million international overnight visitors in 2018.

    The UAE hospitality market is expected to reach $7.6 billion within a span of 3 years at a five-year CAGR of 8.5 per cent. International tourist visits will increase to 25.5 million at a five-year CAGR of 4.3 percent.



    UAE is home to a highly-developed healthcare system, that aims to become one among the best in the world by 2021. The UAE government’s various initiatives to promote the sector coupled with latest technologies that are being embraced, has helped the healthcare sector evolve rapidly.

    A growth of 60 percent is expected in the healthcare industry between the time period 2016- 2021, that will be worth over AED 103 billion.

    The highly specialised doctors along with events such as Arab Health Exhibition, that brings together healthcare companies, technology, and products, has helped the industry gain global recognition.


    Manufacturing is the second largest contributor to the economy of the country. It accounts for 80 percent of Dubai’s non-oil trade and 53 percent of the country’s total non-oil exports. Some of the primary sub-sectors of the industry are processed food and beverages, plastics and rubber, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals and chemical products, minerals and mineral products, publishing and printing, pearls, precious stones and metals.

    Organizations that plan to set up a manufacturing plant in Dubai are bestowed with a range of lucrative facilities.


    Construction sector is an inevitable part of UAE economy, that has been flourishing leaps and bounds. The use of robots, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and “intelligent” tools and equipment has helped in the automation of various tasks at construction sites and this has been a contributing factor to the thriving industry.

    During the time period 2014-2018, residential construction accounted for the largest construction market in the UAE and it is expected to retain its position in the coming years. More than 15,000 projects worth $791 billion are at various stages across the UAE.


    Dubai, a hub for public relations companies, advertising firms, print, production and broadcast facilities, was recently named as the Capital of Arab Media for 2020 by the Arab Information Ministers Council.

    According to His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, “Media outlets are not mere channels to cover events and disseminate information. Media is a partner in achieving development goals, setting their direction and driving their impact. It is a role that comes with great responsibility.”

    The sector experienced an unprecedented rise in 2019, when compared to the previous year.

    Setting up business in UAE for any of these sectors are relatively easy and all you must do is seek the help of a reputed business consultant.

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