28 Dec

Business wrap-up 2023: Key takeaways

In the face of global economic headwinds, the UAE in 2023 has demonstrated remarkable economic fortitude and resilience. In contrast to many other major markets that are struggling with economic downturns and volatility, the UAE continues to provide fertile ground for investment. Despite worldwide inflationary pressures, geopolitical tensions, and supply chain disruptions, placing significant strain on international markets, the UAE has maintained its economic momentum.

The country’s strategic handling of these issues, particularly in navigating trade complexities and maintaining stable investment flows, has reinforced its position as a key player in the global market.

Supported by an array of commercial and social reforms to create a more inclusive and business-friendly environment, the UAE remains an attractive and lucrative arena for business and investment.

The UAE – an economic overview

The UAE has witnessed a significant macroeconomic transformation, pivoting from its traditional reliance on oil to a more diversified and resilient economy. This shift has been driven by a series of strategic initiatives implemented over recent years, including the introduction of a 5% VAT rate in 2018, the relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions and comprehensive visa, social and labour reforms. These initiatives, alongside substantial investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and renewable energy sectors, have played a crucial role in enhancing the UAE's economic diversity, enabling it to weather the volatility in oil and gas prices more effectively.

The journey towards full diversification continues, and transition to a more sustainable economic model is beginning to bear fruit. The first half of 2023 saw the UAE's gross domestic product grow by 3.7%, and notably, during the same period, the non-oil growth surged by 5.9%.

The entrepreneurial spirit in the UAE has also been thriving, as evidenced by the substantial increase in business registrations. In Ras Al Khaimah, for example, the RAK Department of Economic Development registered 1,839 new companies in Q1 2023, a 122% growth rate over the same period in 2022.

Looking forward, the UAE's non-hydrocarbon GDP is projected to continue its upward trajectory, with an expected growth exceeding 4% for the year, continuing at a similar pace into 2024.

Emerging industries and growth sectors

Artificial Intelligence

AI is a huge growth area and has seen a significant surge in 2023, with use cases across a diverse range of industries and integration into public services and smart city initiatives. From diagnostic processes and patient data analysis in healthcare to enhancing supply chain efficiencies in logistics and predictive analysis of consumer behaviour in retail, the potential for innovation is huge.

The "UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence", launched in 2017, aims to make the UAE a world leader in AI by 2031. Initiatives such as the "National Programme for Coders” and the establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, the world's first graduate-level AI university, further underscore this commitment.


The UAE's healthcare sector is undergoing a remarkable transformation, driven by innovations and strategic initiatives that are positioning it as a hotspot for investment. Advancements such as the integration of telemedicine, AI-driven diagnostics, and robotic surgery are dramatically enhancing the efficiency and quality of care.

Substantial budget allocations and the development of specialised healthcare zones are also catalysing this growth. The sector, expected to reach $10.7 billion by 2025, is ripe with opportunities, particularly in digital health solutions and advanced medical technologies.


Fintech in the UAE is burgeoning. The country’s young, tech-savvy population and supportive government initiatives are a major driver. The UAE houses over 40% of the MENA region's start-ups, with FinTech accounting for 40-43% of the nation's funding since 2021.

Government-led initiatives such as the creation of financial free zones, incubators, accelerators, and government-backed funds like have been instrumental in the sector's growth and are presenting unique opportunities for private sector involvement.


The UAE's logistics and transportation industry has grown significantly, with the market expected to exceed $31 billion by 2026. Key drivers include strong government support, technological advancement and increased international trade demand.

Saqr Port in Ras Al Khaimah, a major bulk-handling port in the Middle East, epitomises this growth and exemplifies the UAE's pivotal role in the regional supply chain. The UAE logistics market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 7.23% from 2022 to 2027, propelled by the booming e-commerce industry and increased use of multimodal transport.

Government initiatives and policy changes

Numerous government initiatives and policies were implemented in 2023, and these have continued to solidify and add to the UAE's reputation as an attractive and inclusive investment destination. The initiatives include:

Introduction of Corporate Tax

The introduction of federal Corporate Tax, effective from the beginning of the first financial year starting on or after June 1, 2023, is landmark policy change. This tax applies uniformly across all emirates, aligning the UAE more closely with international economic practices. The adoption of corporate tax underscores the UAE's commitment to global economic integration, enhancing its status as a global business hub and facilitating trade agreements with countries adhering to international tax standards.

Unemployment Insurance Scheme

The UAE government also implemented the Unemployment Insurance Scheme for nationals and residents working in the federal government and the private sector. Effective from January 1, 2023, this scheme provides financial support during unemployment, enhancing the competitiveness of Emiratis in the labour market and ensuring continued decent living standards for the unemployed. This initiative is a step towards achieving a competitive knowledge economy and attracting international talent.

New Commercial Agencies Law

Another significant development was the introduction of the New Commercial Agencies Law, which came into effect on June 15, 2023. This represents a pivotal shift in the regulatory framework, significantly liberalising the rules around commercial representation, enhancing flexibility and fostering a more balanced relationship between foreign principals and local agents. Under the previous legislation, only UAE nationals or entities wholly owned by UAE nationals could act as commercial agents. The new law broadens this scope, allowing international companies in certain activities to directly enter the UAE market as agents for their products.

This progressive change means that international companies, even if not owned by UAE nationals, can now apply to represent their products within the UAE.

Technology and innovation trends

The technological landscape in the UAE continues to evolve rapidly as the government prioritises it as a key pillar of the country’s future growth.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)

VR and AR technologies have transcended their initial entertainment and gaming applications, becoming integral in sectors such as healthcare, education, marketing, and retail. VR's ability to create immersive, computer-generated environments, and AR's blending of digital elements into real-world settings are revolutionising customer experiences and operational processes.

Entrepreneurs in the UAE can leverage these technologies in a variety of ways, from product demonstrations and interactive marketing to enhancing customer engagement and training and skill development programmes.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain's impact on the UAE's business world is profound. Its secure, decentralised transaction system is transforming many industries, from finance to supply chain management. The technology's potential to enable smart cities and support virtual currencies presents a wealth of opportunities, especially in terms of enhancing transactional transparency, security, and efficiency.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Machine learning and AI are automating complex tasks across various sectors, including healthcare for diagnostic purposes, finance for risk management, and retail for personalised customer experiences. UAE businesses can harness AI to optimise operations, drive innovation and gain competitive advantages. With AI predicted to contribute significantly to the global economy, its adoption is crucial for businesses seeking to capitalise on efficiency and innovation.

Future outlook and opportunities

As we look to the future, the business landscape in the UAE is set to continue its trajectory of growth and innovation. The diversification of the economy, coupled with advancements in technology, is expected to open new avenues for business development. Sectors like AI, blockchain and renewable energy are poised for significant expansion, offering fertile ground for pioneering ventures.

For entrepreneurs and future business leaders, the key to capitalising on these trends lies in agility and foresight. Staying abreast of technological advancements, adapting to changing market dynamics, and embracing innovation will be crucial. There is also a growing emphasis on sustainability, indicating that green business practices and solutions will be increasingly valued.

Make your mark in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates stands out as a dynamic and rapidly evolving business haven with its eyes set firmly on the future. Through its unique blend of visionary leadership, strategic development initiatives and robust investment in innovation and sustainability, the UAE is crafting a diverse and resilient economy poised for long-term success.

For those looking to harness the potential of this thriving market, the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) offers a supportive and strategic platform to set up and grow your business in the UAE. With its favourable business environment, comprehensive facilities and dedicated services, RAKEZ is the ideal partner to help you capitalise on the UAE's promising economic future. If you would like more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at +971 7 204 1111 Or visit our website and we’d be happy to assist.


Copyright 2024 by RAKEZ - Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone Government of Ras Al Khaimah | Privacy Statement| Terms Of Use
Last Updated on 12/29/2019 9:23:05 PM

  • Virtual Tour
  • Happiness Survey
  • Callback
  • Portal 360
  • Chat with Us
  • Get in touch