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publication April 16, 2018

United Arab Emirate's Economic Outlook - April 2018

Beyond 2017, overall GDP growth is expected to recover to 2.5% in 2018. Oil production capacity is expected to increase and the strength of the non-oil economy will boost prospects particularly later in the forecast period as megaproject implementation ramps up ahead of Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020 — expected to draw in 25 million visitors, boosting private consumption and services exports.

Export earnings will pick up gradually, with non-oil goods trade and services outpacing oil export growth, although the current account will remain in modest surplus. The 2018 budgets presented by different emirates and the federal government over the last few months are expansionary, with Dubai’s budget containing a notable uptick in infrastructure spending. However, on the back of higher oil prices, improved oil production capacity and higher non-oil revenues, the fiscal deficit is projected to reverse by 2020. Inflation is projected to rise to 2.9% in 2018 due to the VAT but is projected to moderate thereafter.

Poverty is not seen as a serious issue among the national population. Information on living standards is infrequent, lagged and of unknown quality. Results from the 2014-15 household survey show the average consumption for Emirati household in Dubai was US$1,477 per-capita per month (US$1,293 for non-Emirati households, US$734 for collective households and US$511 for labor camps). Family expenditure is lower in the northern Emirates. However, the authorities recognize the potential for economic dissatisfaction in the middle class and have increased social allocations to improve welfare, housing affordability, education and healthcare provision for nationals.