United Arab Emirates Trade: Gold Tops Both Imports & Exports

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Dubai at Night
Dubai is the economic hub of the United Arab Emirates. Image via Pixabay. (License)

Economy of The United Arab Emirates – Overview

Currently ranked as the 29th largest export economy in the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has annual exports of $98.8 billion and imports of $184 billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of $86 billion.

The GDP of the United Arab Emirates is $348 billion and this equates to a GDP per capita of $72,400.

The country’s negative trade balance appears to be widening. The value of its imports has increased at an annualized rate of 2.95% over the last five years. At the same time, exports have declined at an annualized rate of 0.683% during the same period.

The United Arab Emirates’s Top 5 Commodity Exports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
$15.8 billion
Diamonds $12.3 billion
Aluminum $4.22 billion
Copper Wire $1.05 billion
Rolled Tobacco $799 million
Map of the World with UAE

The United Arab Emirates’s Other Notable Exports

  1. Jewelry: $11.8 billion
  2. Cars: $4.5 billion
  3. Broadcasting Equipment: $3.17 billion
  4. Ethylene Polymers: $3.27 billion
  5. Spark-Ignition Engines: $1.57 billion.

Top export destinations of the United Arab Emirates are India ($11.3 billion), Iran ($8.81 billion), Switzerland ($7.42 billion), Iraq ($5.36 billion). and Oman ($5.15 billion).

The United Arab Emirates’s Top 5 Commodity Imports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Gold $31.9 billion
Diamonds $12.5 billion
Refined Petroleum $2.01 billion
Rice $845 million
Hot-Rolled Iron $541 million

The United Arab Emirates's Other Notable Imports

  1. Cars: $11.6 billion
  2. Broadcasting Equipment: $8.77 billion
  3. Gas Turbines: $5.25 billion
  4. Aircraft Parts: $3.86 billion
  5. Computers: $2.56 billion.

More Information on the United Arab Emirates’s Imports/Exports


As the country's leading export, gold is a significant commodity for the United Arab Emirates, representing 16% of its total exports. Trading in Dubai is especially active.

The global export market for gold is worth $383.5 billion. The United Arab Emirates is ranked as the third largest exporter in the world with a 7.8% share of the worldwide export market, behind Hong Kong (16.7%) and Switzerland (25.3%).


Global diamond exports total $127.6 billion annually and the United Arab Emirates is the sixth largest exporting country, which gives them a 5.8% market share.

Out of the top fifteen exporting countries, the United Arab Emirates posted the second-biggest decline in export sales over a five year period, with exports down by 40.9% during that time.


The worldwide aluminum export market is worth $41.7 billion and the United Arab Emirates is ranked as the third largest exporter with a 10.7% market share.

Aluminum exports have grown rapidly for the United Arab Emirates and the country has bucked the trend for lower aluminum export numbers overall, with a rise in the value of its aluminum exports being 188.4% over the last five years.

Copper Wire

Copper wire exports represent 1.1% of the country’s total export values and they have a 7.8% share of a worldwide market that is worth $13.5 billion annually.

The United Arab Emirates is the third-largest exporter of copper wire in the world and Germany exports almost twice as much copper wire as any other country.

Rolled Tobacco

The global export market for rolled tobacco is worth $21.7 billion each year. The United Arab Emirates has a 3.7% share of a market led by Germany (17%) and Poland (8.5%).

Iraq and Oman are key export destinations for the United Arab Emirates’s rolled tobacco exports. This accounts for a total of 75% of their total exports of this commodity.

Interesting Facts About the United Arab Emirates

  • The Burj Khalifa is 818 meters high and has held the record as the tallest building in the world since 2008.
  • The Dubai police fleet of cars includes a Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
  • Dubai has no postal address system, no zip codes, and no area codes. Senders have to include precise instructions on how to find the destination.

All figures based on OEC/IMF 2016 calculations and projections unless otherwise stated.

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