United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is a country on the Arabian Peninsula located mainly along the Arabian Gulf. It is a federal state composed of 7 emirates. Abu Dhabi, the capital, is home to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, with crystal chandeliers and a capacity of 40,000 worshippers

General presentation

Official name: State of the United Arab Emirates Nature of system: Federation of emirates. Each emirate is governed by an emir, power is hereditary.
Area: 82,880 km2
Capital: Abu Dhabi (federal capital)
Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al Quwain, Ajman,
Ras el Khaimah, Fujairah
Main cities: Dubai (3.3 million), Abu Dhabi (3.2 million), Sharjah
(1.5 million)
Official language: Arabic

National holiday: December 2

Population: 9.8 million in 2020 (of which 11.5% are nationals)
Density: 83.6 inhabitants/km2
Population growth rate: 1.4% (2019)
Literacy rate: 93)
Source: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

Economic situation

Economic activity in the United Arab Emirates strengthened in 2018, due to the recovery in hydrocarbon prices and the launch of several stimulus plans. It is expected to benefit in the coming years from significant hydrocarbon investments, major projects related to the Dubai 2020 World Expo, and measures improving the business environment.
The United Arab Emirates has managed to reduce the economy’s dependence on hydrocarbons thanks to the development of a services platform since the early 1980s, notably in Dubai (tourism, port and airport activities). Re-exports of goods represent 35% of total exports. The share of hydrocarbons in GDP has, since 2015, been below 30% of GDP. GDP growth firmed to 2.9 percent in 2018, after bottoming out at 0.8 percent in 2017. This recovery was largely driven by the recovery of “hydrocarbon” GDP, which grew by 2.9 percent in 2018, following a 3 percent contraction in 2017.
A more sustained recovery is expected in the coming years, 3.6% in 2020). The Emirates are expected to benefit from a dynamic fiscal policy .public investments related to the organization of the Expo 2020 in Dubai, which could welcome millions of additional visitors between October 2020 and April 2021). In addition, the adoption of measures to improve the business environment (possibility for non-Emiris to hold 100% of a company’s capital in certain sectors, easing of visa requirements, reduction of fees and charges) could stimulate foreign investors.
Source: DG Treasury

Bilateral Relations

Bilateral investment treaties

Work in process

Double taxation agreements

Work in process

Free trade agreements

Work in process

Leading sector for Swiss companies

– Agricultural products
– Transport equipment
– Chemicals, perfume and cosmetics


20162017 E2018 E2019 E
GDP (in billions of USD)357.05382.58432.61455.59
GDP per capita (USD)36.22637.73341.47642.889
Growth rate30.82.93.7
Unemployment rate1.641.716
Inflation rate1.
Public debt (% of GDP)20.21719.74717.81017.564
Budget balance (% of GDP)-3.5-2.2

Current account balance (% of GDP)2.42.1

(Sources FMI, Banque Mondiale)

Main customers

India (3.8%), Iran (3%), Switzerland (2.5%), Iraq (1.8%), Oman (1.7%).
Source: IMF 

Main suppliers

China (8.3%), USA (7.6%), India (6.9%), Germany (4.6%), Japan (3.6%).
Source : IMF

Swiss exports to

Work in process

Exports of …. to Switzerland

Work in process

Swiss direct investment in

Work in process

The business climate

Work in process