That projected dollar amount reflects a -3% drop compared to $321 billion five years earlier in 2018.
Year over year, the total value of goods exported from the UAE shrank -26.8% from $425.2 billion during 2021.
UAE Most Valuable Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data prorated from 2021 shows that 50.7% of products exported from the UAE was bought by importers in: Saudi Arabia (9.3% of the UAE total), India (8.4%), Iraq (5%), Hong Kong (3.8%), Oman (3.5%), Kuwait (3.2%), mainland China (also 3.2%), Switzerland (3.1%), United States of America (2.7%), Iran (2.3%), Egypt (2.1%) and Pakistan (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 69.9% of UAE exports by value was delivered to fellow Asian countries while 12.5% was sold to Africa importers. UAE shipped another 12.5% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to North America (4%), Oceania (0.6%) led by Australia and New Zealand, then Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given the UAE’s population of 9.9 million people, its total $311.3 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $31,500 for every resident in the sovereign absolute monarchy. That dollar metric exceeds the average $22,800 in exports per capita in 2021.
United Arab Emirates’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in UAE global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the UAE.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$213.4 billion (68.6% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $44.7 billion (14.3%)
- Aluminum: $10.2 billion (3.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $7.7 billion (2.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.4 billion (1.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $3.3 billion (1.1%)
- Iron, steel: $3.2 billion (1%)
- Copper: $2.6 billion (0.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $2.4 billion (0.8%)
- Ships, boats: $1.9 billion (0.6%)
The UAE’s top 10 exported product categories accounted for 94.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Salt, sulphur, stone and cement represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 116% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was for ships and boats which was up by 109.9%.
UAE’s shipments of aluminum recorded the third-fastest gain in value via a 25.3% year-over-year advance.
The leading decliner among UAE’s top 10 export categories was electrical machinery and equipment, pulled down by a -90% reduction.
The above listed product categories are at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level.
Drilling down to the more detailed four-digit HTS codes, the UAE’s 6 biggest exported goods generated well over four-fifths (84.4%) of the Middle Eastern nation’s overall revenue stream from international sales in 2022. The top 6 exported products are crude oil (43.2% of total), processed petroleum oils (19.1%), gold (7.7%), petroleum gases (5.6%), unmounted diamonds (4.6%) and raw aluminum (2.8%).
Products Generating the UAE’s Biggest Trade Surpluses
The UAE racked up an estimated US$62.7 billion product trade surplus for 2022 down by -19.2% from the $77.6 billion in black ink one year earlier in 2021.
The following types of UAE product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$196.1 billion (Up by 8.6% since 2021)
- Aluminum: $8.7 billion (Up by 29.2%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $3 billion (Up by 156.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.8 billion (Reversing a -$12.4 billion deficit)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.6 billion (Down by -17.7%)
- Copper: $994.5 million (Reversing a -$385.7 million deficit)
- Fertilizers: $917.3 million (Reversing a -$66.4 million deficit)
- Lead: $71.5 million (Reversing an -$8.9 million deficit)
- Cork, articles of cork: -$2.1 million (Down by -107.6%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: -$4.7 million (Reversing a -$1.3 million deficit)
The UAE has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum oils–both crude and refined oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate UAE’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing the UAE’s Worst Trade Deficits
Below are exports from the UAE that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country UAE’s goods trail UAE importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$33.2 billion (Up by 334% since 2021)
- Machinery including computers: -$26.3 billion (Up by 162.9%)
- Vehicles: -$17.4 billion (Up by 158.3%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$3.4 billion (Up by 306.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$3.4 billion (Up by 91.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$3.1 billion (Up by 130.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.9 billion (Down by -31.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$2.8 billion (Reversing a $309 million surplus)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$2.7 billion (Up by 95.2%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: -$2.6 billion (Reversing a $1.4 billion surplus)
UAE has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery-related product categories.
Major Companies Headquartered in the UAE
Ten UAE business entities rank among Forbes Global 2000. The world-class UAE companies are listed in descending order starting with those with the highest dollar value in annual revenues.
- First Abu Dhabi Bank (banking services)
- Etisalat (telecom services, equipment)
- Emirates NBD (regional bank)
- Emaar Properties (real estate)
- DP World (marine terminal operations)
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (regional bank)
- Dubai Islamic Bank (regional bank)
- Mashreq Bank (regional bank)
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (regional bank)
- Union National Bank (regional bank)
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies located in the UAE. Selected examples from the energy sector are shown below, this time listed in alphabetical order.
- ADNOC Gas Processing (state-owned natural gas)
- Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (state-owned holding company)
- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (state-owned petroleum)
- Dana Gas (privately-owned natural gas)
In macroeconomic terms, the United Arab Emirates exported goods worth 37.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($828.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 37.6% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 31% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for UAE’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. UAE’s unemployment rate averaged 2.75% for 2022, down from an average 3.11% one year earlier for 2021 per Trading Economics.
The UAE’s capital city is Abu Dhabi.
See also Gold Exports by Country Plus Average Prices, Coal Exports by Country, Crude Oil Exports by Country and Petroleum Gas Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Middle East: United Arab Emirates. Accessed on July 17, 2023
FlagPictures.org, Flag of UAE. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, United Arab Emirates’ Biggest Companies. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on July 17, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 17, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of UAE. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 17, 2023
Wikipedia, United Arab Emirates. Accessed on July 17, 2023
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Abu Dhabi, UAE. Accessed on July 17, 2023