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Euromonitor International’s United Arab Emirates (UAE) Business Dynamics Country Briefing focuses on the most competitive nation in the Middle East and Africa having a relatively diversified economy and a favourable business landscape. Despite being a small nation, UAE has emerged as being one of the wealthiest and most dynamic countries globally. The country’s demographic dividend adds to its long-term competitiveness, but its low female workforce participation rate and heavy dependence on expatriates concern businesses. Although in the short run soft oil prices might limit infrastructural spending, in the medium term the World Expo 2020 (to be hosted in Dubai), the first World Expo in the region, is expected to drive infrastructure investment in the country; thereby boosting the country’s overall competitiveness.
With more and more pro-business reforms, rapidly modernising infrastructure and an advanced information communication and technology (ICT) environment, the UAE has managed to position itself as the most competitive and easiest place to do business regionally, with a rank of 26 th out of 190 nations in 2017. To maintain its overall competitiveness the government plans on investing considerably in infrastructure. According to trade sources, in 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai awarded over 1,200 contracts, costing more than AED2.0 billion (US$545 million) and in January 2017 it has proposed to launch 47 construction contracts worth AED11.0 billion (US$3.0 billion). The World Expo 2020 will not only provide a massive boost to the country’s infrastructural sector but also the hospitality and tourism businesses, as it is expected to attract more than 25.0 million visitors between October 2020 and April 2021. Nonetheless, the government needs to do more to enhance female participation in the workforce to maintain the country’s long term superiority over competitiveness regionally.