UAE Economic Outlook for 2023: Strong and Steady


The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates and is one of the world’s most stable and prosperous economies. It has achieved significant economic growth over the past decade, making it a hub for international trade, finance, and investment. In 2023, the UAE is expected to remain one of the strongest economies in the region, as its central location and competitive advantages continue to attract investors. The primary contributing factors to the UAE’s economic growth include the presence of oil and gas, political and social stability, economic diversification, and globalization. As it continues its rapid economic growth, the UAE’s economic outlook for 2023 is highly promising.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) projections, the UAE’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to reach USD 733.6 billion by 2023. The projected expansion in the UAE’s real GDP reflects the government’s efforts to diversify the country’s economy and expand the share of its non-oil and gas sectors. The UAE is also investing heavily in the development and implementation of futuristic technologies, particularly in the field of information technology. To add, the growing popularity of the country as a tourist destination is also prone to contribute towards the expansion of the economy in the coming years.

Major factors contributing to the UAE’s economic growth

The UAE economy is driven by the country’s vast oil and gas reserves, which account for more than 95% of total government revenues. The presence of oil and gas is a major factor in the UAE’s economy, being one of the top exporters of crude oil and natural gas in the world. This has facilitated a large income for the country, which has been reinvested into public infrastructure and other investments.

However, the country is likely to focus on diversifying its economy away from oil and shift its focus to non-oil sectors. The non-oil and gas sectors, which include financial and shipping services as well as tourism and trading, account for only 5% of the country’s GDP. The UAE’s rich cultural diversity reflects in the economic activities of the country, which include agriculture, livestock, fishing, and manufacturing of consumer goods, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and construction materials. According to a recent economic analysis conducted by ICAEW and Oxford Economics, the UAE’s economic expansion will decelerate in 2023, yet the non-oil segment of the economy is expected to stay firm in the face of high inflation and interest rates.

The government of the UAE has made it a priority to develop human resources and encourage innovation to boost the country’s economic growth. The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation reported that since the start of 2022, the amount of employees in the private sector has increased by approximately 8.5%. Additionally, senior-level positions have grown by 7.6% over the same period. . The government is expected to invest heavily in its workforce innovation, and technology in order to diversify the economy and create more jobs. The 2023 UAE Salary Guide and Hiring Insights Report conducted by recruitment specialist, Michael Page, revealed that the job market in the United Arab Emirates is expected to flourish in the year 2023. This is due to the high level of confidence that companies have in the UAE coupled with the fact that they  are investing heavily in the region to expand their business operations.

As the world’s third-largest tourist destination, the tourism sector plays a dominant role in the UAE’s economy. The travel and tourism sector contributed AED 159.1 billion (USD 43.3 billion) to the UAE’s GDP, comprising 12.1 percent of the overall GDP. Predictions suggest that by 2027, its contribution will increase to AED 264.5 billion (USD 72 billion), forming 12.4 percent of GDP. This increase is expected to occur at an annual rate of 4.9 percent. The travel and tourism industry currently provides employment for 317,500 people in the UAE, which is equivalent to 5.4 percent of the total workforce. It is projected that this number will increase to 410,000 by 2027, which will then represent 5.9 percent of total employment.

The UAE has seen a steady rise in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the past few years, which has been a major driver of economic growth. The UAE’s strategic location is a major advantage as it allows for easy access to markets in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. This has helped attract global companies and investors, which in turn has resulted in increased FDI inflows and job creation.  In 2023, FDI is expected to remain strong, supported by government initiatives such as the Emirates Investment Authority, which was established to attract and facilitate foreign investments. Analysts anticipate that the United Arab Emirates will be the beneficiary of the majority of the $66 billion in foreign direct investment slated for the MENAP region by 2023, as worldwide investors view the country as the perfect location for investing. Furthermore, it is predicted that the UAE will be able to generate an estimated $22 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) this year in response to its improvements in business and visa policies.

Opportunities for foreign investors and government initiatives to promote economic growth

The UAE has been one of the most attractive countries in the Middle East region for foreign investors, particularly in the non-oil and gas sectors. The ongoing diversification efforts are likely to drive growth in the non-oil and gas sectors of the economy, which are expected to account for a larger share of the country’s economic growth in the coming years. The government has also been making efforts to expand the country’s economic growth and create more opportunities for foreign investors. The launch of the Dubai Future Accelerators program, and Dubai Blockchain Strategy, are some of the initiatives that the government is undertaking to foster growth opportunities for foreign investors. The government has also taken significant measures to ensure that the investment climate in the country is conducive to the growth of businesses. The country’s business-friendly regulatory and judicial frameworks, ease of doing business, and availability of strategic infrastructure are some of the factors that have made the UAE an attractive destination for foreign investors.

The government’s efforts to develop an ecosystem for innovation have also been critical to maintaining the country’s economic growth. Many of the country’s top research and development institutes are based locally, and the government has made various steps to expand its presence outside the country. Reforms have also been launched such as the introduction of the ‘UAE Corporate Governance Code’ to strengthen corporate governance and the ‘UAE Intellectual Property Rights Law’ to protect innovators and inventors.

The UAE is also developing initiatives to improve its business climate and enhance the ease of doing business. Several efforts have also been made to reduce macroeconomic volatility by implementing a monetary policy framework, implementing a structural reform program, expanding the banking sector, and creating an enabling environment for investors. Initiatives such as the ‘The Fifty Economic Plan’ consists of five essential components: interlinked economy, entrepreneurship, and small/medium enterprises, tourism, international investments and exports, and enticing and sustaining talented personnel. The plan aspires to bring about a dramatic shift in the national economy by 2030, and assist in the growth of GDP by developing a thriving local business atmosphere and allowing UAE companies to excel and take the lead globally.

To support the success of the country’s development goals and policies, the UAE Federal Budget for 2023-2026 was approved with a total expenditure of AED 63.066 billion and total revenue of AED 63.613 billion. This budget is allotted to the development and social benefits sector, government affairs sector, financial investments sector, and other federal expenses. The UAE aims to become a major global player in the future and is making significant efforts to become one. Ongoing efforts to introduce and encourage the use of cutting-edge technologies are further strengthening the UAE’s economic growth. The country’s economy has been remarkably successful in adopting new technologies and integrating them into its economic activities. It continuously promotes technological innovation and diversification, and it has helped the country emerge as a leading hub for artificial intelligence and digital innovation. The government is also promoting the use of green energy and sustainable technologies, making the UAE an attractive destination for investors in the field of renewable energy. Moreover, the UAE is the first Arab state to set a “net-zero” emissions target and has made the energy transition a priority.


Industry specialists have projected that the UAE economy may witness a lower rate of expansion in 2023 owing to the worldwide financial downturn and political turmoil in other parts of the globe. Despite this, the World Bank has projected the UAE’s GDP to grow by 4.1% in 2023. The forecast is higher than the 3.9 percent prediction made by the UAE Central Bank in its most recent Quarterly Economic Review. Overall, the country’s economy is expected to remain strong in 2023, supported by a robust business environment, increased foreign investment, and diversification efforts. The UAE has made tremendous progress in the past two decades, and it is expected to continue improving in many areas by 2023. It has consistently demonstrated an appetite for growth and innovation and has developed and implemented effective strategies to achieve its ambitious goals. By 2023, the Emirates is expected to showcase tangible accomplishments in areas such as renewable energy, integrated infrastructure, and smart and sustainable cities. Furthermore, the UAE has the potential to become a regional or global leader in many of these areas, setting an example for other developing nations to follow.

The UAE has much to offer investors who are looking for a sound return on investment. It continues to remain an attractive option for businesses seeking to expand their operations and increase their profitability. When it comes to investing in the UAE, it is necessary to have an understanding of the business environment and to familiarize yourself with the relevant laws and legal processes. Strohal Legal Group advises both domestic and international customers on local and cross-border M&A transactions and corporate, business, and labor law matters, company establishments, energy and climate change law, tax law matters, as well as all aspects of business ventures, investments, and commercial disputes. Having worked in this industry for almost two decades, SLG is familiar with the market and can make the whole process time-saving and cost-efficient.

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