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Business Opportunities in the United Arab Emirates

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a natural and stable hub for Swedish companies that are looking to do business in the Gulf region. A high average income and a broad use of the English language along with numerous long-term infrastructure projects collectively offer both opportunities and a simplicity when doing business in the region.

Exports from Sweden to the UAE during 2017 amounted to approximately 6.3 billion SEK. The oil and gas industry has historically been the driving force for the economic development of the country, which is the second largest economy in the Gulf region after Saudi Arabia. However, Dubai, which can be considered the financial hub of the UAE, the income from oil is less than 1% of the country’s GDP. In recent years, the UAE is looking for a more diversified economy, which in turn offers many opportunities for large, midsized, and small Swedish enterprises within different sectors. Some of which are outlined below.


UAE has the second largest healthcare market amongst the Gulf countries and is amongst the top 20 in the world for healthcare spending per capita. The healthcare sector is expected to grow continuously to $21.3 billion until 2021. An increase in lifestyle-related diseases and a very limited local “know-how” are factors contributing to growth. Arab Health – the second largest exhibition in the world within the healthcare sector – is held annually in Dubai. Overall, the market offers great opportunities for Swedish companies within the healthcare sector.


Broad initiatives within mobility, such as investments in transport, vehicles, airports and other infrastructure has been given a central role in the national development plans. The country will continue to invest in large flagship project, such as the expansion of the international airports in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi. Swedish companies have the opportunity to offer technology connected to these infrastructure projects or solutions with direct mobility applications. 


The Gulf region is one of the world’s fastest growing ICT markets and the UAE is a main driving force. A large share of internet and smartphone users of the population presents opportunities for service-based technology and ICT companies. Grand initiatives – e.g. Smart Dubai and e-government – intend to push the UAE towards becoming a more connected, digital and smart society, with application areas in everything from smart infrastructure to smart buildings. Other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyber security are also growing fields. Swedish technology-based companies with solutions in line with the national visions have great opportunities in the country.


An increased resource utilisation, a steady growing population and limited resources, such as fresh water resources, has led to initiatives within sustainable energy, waste and water management. Renewable energy resources, especially within PV and solar, are focus areas for the UAE government. Great investments in renewable are expected the coming years since the national goal is to generate half of the country’s energy resources from renewable energy by 2050.  The UAE is establishing itself as a regional hub and leader for renewable energy and sustainable technologies, with development driven by the country’s capital Abu Dhabi and its Masdar Initiative. These initiatives, in addition to local challenges such as providing a desert country with potable water and energy efficient air conditioning, open doors for Swedish expertise and solutions within the field. Overall, the primary focus is on energy efficiency and optimisation.

EXPO 2020

The world exhibition Expo 2020:” Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, will be held in Dubai. Up until 2020, the Emirate of Dubai’s economy is expected to grow, with a multitude of large infrastructure investments, at the same time as all sectors will be affected. 

2018 the Swedish government decided that Sweden will participate in the exhibition with a pavilion, which will be the governments single largest export and invest-related promotional activity so far. The initiative will be jointly financed by the government and Swedish business. The exhibition will run from October 2020 until April 2021. 180 countries are expected to participate, and 25 million individuals are expected to visit during that time, whereof 70% will be visiting from outside the UAE. The exhibition will be structured around three areas:” Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity”, with the Swedish pavilion being placed in the Opportunity area.
For Swedish companies participating in Expo 2020 there is an opportunity to strengthen one’s position, both in the region and globally, as well as an opportunity to showcase competitive and sustainable solutions.