United Arab Emirates

HSBC Navigator provides comprehensive insight into the now, next and how for business, representing the views of over 9,100 business decision-makers across 35 markets. This report gives an understanding of how businesses like yours can continue to grow now and in the future.

Going against the grain
Increased investments and activity in preparation for Expo 2020 Dubai is helping bolster business confidence in the UAE1. Weaker global growth, fluctuating oil prices, and overreliance on the hydrocarbons sector remain key concerns in the current market climate.

State of play

Improving productivity, seizing new opportunities
UAE businesses are upbeat about growth, with 60% saying they are more optimistic now than they were a year ago. More than four-fifths expect growth in the year ahead, with 85% envisaging further expansion over the next five years, beating the global norm.

The majority (83%) predict sales growth over the next 12 months; of these, one-third – the high-growth companies – believe sales will increase by 15% or more. In addition, 92% of businesses are positive on international trade prospects over the next two years, a 7% jump on the previous two.

Driving this positive business outlook, improving business productivity is the top internal consideration, while the top external factor is new markets opening up.

92 %

of businesses are positive on international trade prospects over the next two years

Expectations for future business growth

Expect sales to grow – Next year*
83%
Grow by 15% or more – Next year
35%
Grow by 6-14% – Next year
37%
Grow by 5% or less – Next year
11%
Stay the same – Next year
4%
Expect sales to shrink – Next year
13%

Next five years

Expect sales to grow* 85%
Grow by 15% or more 47%
Grow by 6-14% 29%
Grow by 5% or less 8%
Stay the same 3%
Expect sales to shrink 11%

*This is the sum of grow by 5% or less, 6-14%, 15% or more. 

What you need to know

  1. 1

    83% of UAE businesses predict sales growth over the next 12 months, which is 1% more than the MENA average.

  2. 2

    92% of businesses are positive on international trade prospects over the next two years, which is well ahead of the global average (81%).

  3. 3

    Three-quarters of firms anticipate that their business will change substantially over the next five years.

What your business can do

  • Expand into new markets in order to overcome the potential decline of domestic business. 42% of companies say this is their strategy.
  • Improve the quality of products and services. One-third of UAE businesses consider this to be a top priority.
  • Tighten cashflow management. 26% of UAE firms say they will adopt this practice compared with 17% globally.