Dubai external non-oil trade remains above AED1-trillion despite headwinds

The emirate’s overall trade performance reflects its status as one of the world’s best performing trade logistics service providers.
Dubai, Trade, Economy


Dubai’s external non-oil trade in 2018 reached AED1.3 trillion despite challenges facing global trade growth resulting from trade tensions between major economic powers and a slowdown in growth that has led to currency rate volatility in developing countries.

The latest trade figures show that Dubai is moving forward steadily as a leading international and regional trade hub that efficiently connects diverse international markets.

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The emirate’s overall trade performance reflects its status as one of the world’s best performing trade logistics service providers.

According to Dubai Customs, trade through free zones in 2018 grew by 23% to AED532 billion.

Direct trade touched AED757 billion while customs warehouse trade weighed in at AED10.4 billion.

Re-exports grew 12% to AED402 billion while imports totalled AED770 billion and exports AED127 billion.

“The current growth of Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade is an indication that we are on the right path of revenue diversification in alignment with the values and standards outlined in the 50-Year Charter,” said His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council.

“The Dubai Silk Road Strategy supports decades of successful investment in developing the emirate’s infrastructure. In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we are committed to developing our government services so that we can become a world-class model for future governments based on knowledge, innovation and advanced AI applications.”

“We are currently developing a virtual commercial zone, the first of its kind in the region, which will allow investors to open bank accounts and grant e-residencies according to the highest standards of international laws and regulations,” he added.

Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation said: “Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade is flexible and agile enough to overcome different global economic crunches.

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“Despite a number of challenges that world trade has been through in the last decade, Dubai’s trade grew 72% from 2009 and 2018, and the volume of goods in this period grew 44%. This again reflects Dubai’s ability to attract global trade and investments and to keep up with changes, especially the rise of Asia and China as a global export hub.

“Dubai is a very important link in this global activity. Our international network of ports and free zones in different countries coupled with Dubai’s leading airline network have helped the emirate in its journey towards more success and progress.”

The latest external trade figures show coherence, integration and diversity among the different modes of shipping: land, sea and air. Airborne trade rose 3.2% to reach AED612 billion and sea trade rose 3.4% to AED483 billion while land trade touched AED205 billion.  

Phones of all types topped the list of commodities in Dubai's foreign trade in 2018 with AED150 billion worth of trade.

This reflects the adoption of advanced communications technology in Dubai as part of its journey to become the smartest city on earth.  Next on the list was gold with AED146 billion worth of trade, followed by jewellery (AED106 billion), diamonds (AED94 billion), and cars with AED65 billion.

China maintained its position as Dubai’s biggest trading partner in 2018 with AED139 billion worth of trade. India came in second with AED116 billion worth of trade, followed by the USA in third place with AED81 billion. Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai’s largest Arab trade partner and its fourth largest global trade partner with AED55 billion, followed by Switzerland in fifth place with AED49 billion.

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