United Arab Emirates Country Program

September 12, 2022

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World Bank Engagement in the UAE

Technical cooperation between the UAE and the World Bank began in 1980 and a framework agreement for annual technical cooperation was first signed for 1995-96. In 2015, the Bank became a Strategic Partner to the Prime Minister’s Office at the World Government Summit (WGS). In 2019, the World Bank established its office in Abu Dhabi to exercise full functions including facilitation of research on relevant policy issues, knowledge partnerships and providing technical assistance to federal and local entities.

Since 2021, The World Bank office has accelerated its engagement with the UAE government and other stakeholders. Through Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS), the Bank provides technical advisory assistance to UAE government agencies across a number of sectors including finance, education, gender, sustainable development, digital transformation and social protection. The RAS portfolio in UAE has increased from $800,000 in 2016 to over $2.5 million in 2022. The World Bank also engages with UAE stakeholders through participation in meetings, workshops, and conferences. Below are the highlights of the Innovations in Education: The World Bank is engaged in innovative approaches to enhance the quality of education in UAE. Currently, the World Bank in supporting the authorities with modernizing tertiary education regulations.

World Bank’s recent and ongoing activities in the UAE:

Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Bank has worked on gender research and ways to support the UAE’s efforts to further improve women’s economic empowerment. In collaboration with the UAE’s Gender Balance Council, a joint UAE-World Bank Gender Center of Excellence was launched in September 2022, the first of its kind in the MENA region. The center will serve as a research and knowledge platform for the region on gender policy design and implementation.

Promoting Entrepreneurship: The UAE is a key donor to the We-Fi fund to support women entrepreneurs and increase their access to finance. We-Fi is now operational in 52 countries around the world, working with more than 140 partners from the public and private sector, and over 12,000 women-led businesses have directly benefitted from its programs – a number which will rise rapidly in the coming years. The Initiative has a proven return-on-investment, as $300 million in current allocations will catalyze $3 billion in public and private funds.

Investment Arbitration: The World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) signed a Cooperation Agreement with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) on investment arbitration in the Middle East.

Debt Management: In 2022, The World Bank has supported the UAE with the establishment and capacity building of its Debt Management Office and the inaugural issuance of domestic bonds.

Insolvency Regime: In 2022, The World Bank supported the UAE with the review and modernization of the UAE Insolvency Law with a focus on SMEs.

Climate Change: The UAE is partnering with the Bank as a knowledge partner in the preparation of the UAE’s Presidency of COP28 in November 2023.

Events: The Country Office contributed and participated regularly in events organized by UAE public and private sector partners. Recent highlights include Dubai Expo, the World Government Summit (Virtual keynote address by WBG President David Malpass and Keynote address by Mari Pangestu, Managing Director, WBG and Ferid Belhaj, VP for Middle East & North Africa, WBG), MENA Climate Week, UN Women SDG5 Summit, Abu Dhabi Economic Policy Conference.