The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country consisting of seven separate, but connected, emirates has become a must consider location for internationally-minded businesses for the best part of two decades. The country as a whole has been advancing in so many ways in recent times – generally below the radar - a fact missed by many business commentators, who have tended to focus specifically on the stop-start, but hugely impressive, commercial developments in Dubai or the substantial global investments undertaken by Abu Dhabi investment groups.

No longer can Western European - , North American – or South East Asian-based businesses continue to trade amongst themselves and ignore the noise coming from the Persian Gulf. The UAE demands – in a measured, genteel way – to be noticed. Ignore it, and the growing business opportunities there, at your peril.

One of the main reasons the UAE is worth a look for international companies is the relative economic stability of the country, despite the regional tumult going on around it. It is also in a comfortable time zone, being just +3 hours ahead of GMT.

Abu Dhabi is the dominant player in the region with its huge strength in oil, but with continuing diversification in many other sectors, including, aviation, aerospace and defence, logistics, healthcare, tourism, media, financial services and education.

Dubai has had its ups and downs, but overall the strategic development goal of shifting the reliance on oil to a focus on port and trade activities, financial services, construction and leisure has been achieved and will continue to be extended. It is a fast growing and happening place and increasingly one where Europe and the Middle East comes to play.

As for the other emirates, they, like Abu Dhabi, have mostly avoided the roller coaster ride enjoyed by Dubai and have followed a slower and more measured growth, not easy in these turbulent economic times. Sharjah, the third largest emirate by contribution to UAE GDP and the third fastest growing economy, has become a key manufacturing, industrial and re-export hub. Ras al-Khaimah, which has little oil wealth, is pushing hard to create awareness of what it has to offer and is growing at around 10% annually. It is developing strengths in cement, glass, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

The remaining three emirates - Ajman, Fujairah and Umm al-Quwain - are much smaller with Ajman experiencing strong growth in manufacturing and construction, moving away from its fishing heritage; Fujairah, the only emirate situated on the Gulf of Oman, possessing a large port and free trade zone, with shipping and related services thriving; and Umm al-Quwain, the least populous emirate, maintaining its traditional agriculture and fishing sector.

Furthermore, avid sports fans must have noted the UAE’s long standing and growing participation in investing in a wide range of sports at home and globally, including horse racing (Dubai), football (Abu Dhabi), cricket (Sharjah) and F1 motor racing (Abu Dhabi), amongst others. These major investments continue to present opportunities to companies active in the commercial whirl surrounding the sports industry.

Any company interested in opportunities throughout the United Arab Emirates should contact us on +44 (0)1672 851802 or at