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Country data

Iran 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015f
Nominal GDP ($bn) 253.5 286.0 347.5 372.3 402.3* 416.4 440.2
GDP per capita ($) 30.921 34.612 40.817* 42.464 44.552 44.771 45.944
Real GDP growth (annual change, %) -5.2 1.6 4.9 4.7 5.2* 4.3 4.5
Government revenue (% of GDP) 27.1 29.9 34.6 36.2 34.6* 33.3 32.4
Government total expenditure (% of GDP) 27.0 25.3 23.4 22.5 24.0* 22.8 22.2
General government gross debt 24.1 22.2 17.6 17.1 11.7* 11.4 11.4
Current account balance (% of GDP) 3.1 2.5 14.7 18.5 16.1* 11.1 11.8
Inflation (%) 1.2 0.9 0.8 0.9 1.7* 2.4 2.8
Population (millions) 8.2 8.3 8.5* 8.8 9.0 9.3 9.6
Unemployment (%) na na na na na na na
Click to see full economic data (2005 - 2019 forecast)
Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database; Last updated: February 2015

Doing business in...

A guide to doing business in the UAE

MEED’s guide to doing business in the UAE

An essential companion for anybody seeking to do business in or with the federation of the United Arab Emirates

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

Doing business in Abu Dhabi Subscription

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the UAE’s seven emirates

Burj Khalifa

Doing business in Dubai Subscription

Sandwiched between Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, Dubai is the second largest emirate in the UAE in terms of economy

Sharjah Blue Souk

Doing business in Sharjah Subscription

Sharjah is the third largest economy in the UAE, after Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Umm al-Quwain

Doing business in Umm al-Quwain Subscription

Umm al-Quwain is located between Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman and has a reputation as a quiet, tranquil emirate, where fishing and date farming remain key contributors to the economy


Doing business in Ajman Subscription

Covering about 259 square kilometres, Ajman is the smallest of the UAE’s emirates in terms of land area, occupying the stretch of coast between Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain


Doing business in Fujairah Subscription

Fujairah is the only one of the UAE’s seven emirates located on the Gulf of Oman

Ras al-Khaimah

Doing business in Ras al-Khaimah Subscription

Ras al-Khaimah, often known simply as Rak, was the last of the emirates to join the UAE and forms the most northerly part of the country

Basic information about the UAE Subscription

An overview of the UAE

Abu Dhabi

UAE economy Subscription

Few countries have experienced such a dramatic rise as the UAE over the past 50 years

UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan

History of the UAE Subscription

The origins of the UAE lie in a truce signed in 1820 between nine Arab sheikhdoms in the area

Useful contacts in the UAE Subscription

Information providers, UAE legal contacts and municipalities

The steps to setting up a business in the UAE Subscription

Leading experts in business incorporation talk to MEED about establishing a company in the UAE

Tax in the UAE Subscription

John Belsey, head of international tax practice for the Middle East branch of professional services firm Deloitte, outlines the UAE tax regime and discusses its future development

Hiring clause: Provisions in free zone rules may differ to the Labour Law

UAE employment law Subscription

For any company in the UAE, onshore or in a free zone (with the exception of Dubai International Financial Centre), the requirements of Federal Law number 8 of 1980 and its amendments, otherwise known as the Labour Law, are compulsory

Free trade zones in the UAE Subscription

Free trade zones enable international companies to set up in the UAE without a local sponsor


Types of company in the UAE Subscription

Federal law in the UAE sets out the legal forms of an onshore company that can be established

Doing business in the UAE Subscription

Leading experts in business incorporation talk to MEED about establishing a company in the UAE

UAE trends

Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, UAE Economy Minister

Interview: Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, UAE Economy Minister Subscription

27 April 2015 | By

The fall in oil prices has reinforced the UAE’s commitment to economic diversification

US-based GE’s distributed power business finds promising markets in areas of volatility

GE sees opportunity in instability Subscription

27 April 2015 | By

Firm’s CEO of distributed power talks about supply and generation challenges in region

Dubai International Financial Centre

Confidence improves in Dubai’s credit risk Subscription

21 April 2015 | By

Memories of Dubai’s obligation issues are starting to fade, with the emirate signing restructuring deals and working on a pipeline of infrastructure projects

Growth slows in Dubai tourism market Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

The strengthening dollar is making the emirate a more expensive travel destination, potentially jeopardising its plan to reach 20 million visitors by 2020

Dubai power generation

Dubai becomes Gulf’s solar champion Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

The emirate is making renewables plans and acting on them, becoming the regional leader in the alternative energy race. Other GCC states’ once promising schemes are falling behind

Dubai International airport

Dubai aviation sector set for continued growth Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

Washington announced on 9 April that an inquiry is to be held into allegations that Gulf airlines are breaching open skies guidelines. But can anything stop the rise of Dubai’s aviation industry?

Oil sector takes a smaller role in Dubai

Oil sector takes a smaller role in Dubai Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

Daily production at Dubai’s oil fields has been steadily declining, but the emirate’s highly diversified economy means the government is prepared for change

Dubai real estate supply

Dubai a buyers’ market in 2015 Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

With Dubai’s property market cooling, buyers will be able to take longer to negotiate and commit to transactions, while sellers are expected to be more flexible on prices

Dubai Water Canal

GCC builds on lessons learned Subscription

9 April 2015 | By

Yu Tao, president and CEO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East, says tighter regulation and a more mature market have made the GCC an attractive region in which to operate

David Clifton, Faithful + Gould

Saudi population growth stresses public infrastructure Subscription

7 April 2015 | By

The kingdom’s young population has expectations around housing and social infrastructure that will require major investment programmes

Filter UAE analysis by sector

MEED comment

Abu Dhabi oil and gas projects moving ahead

Abu Dhabi oil and gas projects moving ahead

27 April 2015 | By

Positive signs for contractors as oil exporter plans further investment in energy sector

Renewable energy

Renewables market hotspots taking off

23 April 2015 | By

Excitement over Egypt, but Saudi Arabia’s plans remain unclear

Dubai in the UAE

Dubai is the market that delivers

21 April 2015 | By

Emirate’s aggressive economic diversification efforts are paying off

To control its spiralling costs and return to profitability, Arabtec will need the best people

People are the problem for Arabtec

21 April 2015 | By

Board and senior management changes take their toll on Dubai contractor


UK plays increasing role in Dubai aviation

19 April 2015 | By

Government funding support is creating opportunities for UK businesses

Andrew Roscoe

Dubai delivers on solar

16 April 2015 | By

As other countries rethink or slow their renewable energy plans, the emirate pushes ahead

Colin Foreman

Abu Dhabi construction projects market 'slow'

16 April 2015 | By

Since 2011, many schemes in the emirate have floundered at the tender stage

Dubai projects

Dubai takes on another mission impossible

14 April 2015 | By

Softening real estate prices have created a new funding challenge

More MEED commentary

Special Reports


UAE: Dubai's maturing economy

21 April 2015

Dubai is doing better than many of its neighbours at diversifying its economy away from oil and gas

Real estate

Prices fluctuate in maturing real estate market

18 March 2015 | By

The region is seeing sharp differences in office and housing costs, depending on the maturity of the market

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: Difficult times ahead

11 February 2015

While Abu Dhabi has substantial reserves built up from several years of fiscal surpluses, another period of efficiency savings can be expected

Opec secretary-general Abdullah al-Badri

Opec sets the tone for 2015

15 December 2014 | By

Regional producers are not about to cut oil production and the assumptions that have underpinned forecasting in recent years have to be revisited

More UAE special reports

Market presentations

Dubai creek

Managing the Boom: The Outlook for the Middle East Subscription

23 July 2014

Opportunities and challenges for businesses in the region created by the new projects boom


Webinar: Impact of Expo 2020 on Dubai construction Subscription

4 February 2014

Dubai is expected to spend more than $7bn on infrastructure in preparation for the World Expo

Middle East Outlook 2013

A region in transition: Middle East outlook 2013 and beyond Subscription

18 August 2013

Insight and analysis on the economic and projects outlook for the Middle East

Project Finance

Webinar: Middle East project finance outlook Subscription

17 June 2013

Market constraints to continue, with deals flowing to most stable markets in the region

Mena renewables 2013

Webinar: MENA Renewable Energy Subscription

12 May 2013

In this presentation, MEED discusses the trends and prospects for renewable power in the region

After the Uprisings webinar

After the Uprisings: The outlook for business in the Middle East in 2013 and beyond Subscription

4 March 2013

A webinar on the region’s business environment, providing current data and exclusive expert analysis drawn from MEED’s team of experts

Top 100 projects 2012

Top 100 projects: The Middle East market gains momentum Subscription

3 February 2013

This webinar examines projects market trends in the region and forecasts which countries and sectors will grow in 2013

More MEED webinars

Top 10 projects


Rank Project Name Sector Contract value ($m)
1 Baraka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 3 Power 4,000
2 Upper Zakum Full Field: Early Production Facility: Offshore: EPC 2 Oil 3,790
3 Baraka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 Power 3,100
4 Abu Dhabi Airport Expansion: Midfield Terminal Complex Transport 2,960
5 Baraka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 2 Power 2,500
6 Ruwais Carbon Black and Delayed Coker Project Oil 2,470
7 Dubai Pearl: Towers Construction 2,400
8  Sarb Full Field Development: Main Processing Plant: Package 4 Power 2,250
9 Baraka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 4 Oil 2,000
9 Abu Dhabi Alumina Refinery (Shaheen) Industrial 2,000
Click through to the full data table on the UAE's biggest projects in construction
Click through to MEED's Q4 2014 Top 100 Projects report
Source: MEED Projects; Data compiled: April 2015; All projects are in execution

Project awards

Inpex awarded 5 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi onshore concession

Inpex awarded stake in Abu Dhabi onshore concession Subscription

27 April 2015 | By

Japanese company is second group to enter 40-year oil field joint venture

Belgrade Waterfront development

Eagle Hills signs Serbia deal Subscription

27 April 2015 | By

Belgrade Waterfront was lauched last year

Key contracts awarded on $10bn Bab gas development

Key contracts awarded on $10bn Bab gas development Subscription

26 April 2015 | By

Abu Dhabi selects companies for design and management of UAE’s largest pre-execution project

Brookfield Multiplex wins Lapita theme park hotel

Brookfield Multiplex wins Lapita theme park hotel Subscription

26 April 2015 | By

Canadian contractor joins other firms working on development

Sadiyaat Island projects

Contract awarded for Saadiyat Island Subscription

23 April 2015 | By

Local firm awarded contract for enabling work on Saadiyat Island project

Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Contractor wins Dubai exhibition halls Subscription

20 April 2015 | By

Nine-month contract will increase space to over 122,000 square metres

Middle East contracts March 2015

Middle East contracts awarded: March 2015 Subscription

15 April 2015

Over $6bn of contracts awarded in March in the Middle East

Steel production

United Iron & Steel starts Abu Dhabi plant construction Subscription

12 April 2015 | By

Two phases of galvanised steel operation expected to cost AED1bn

Artist rendering of Town Square by Nshama

Binladin wins Dubai infrastructure work Subscription

9 April 2015 | By

Contractor will work on Nshama’s Town Square

Gas turbine plant

GE wins long-term gas services contract Subscription

29 March 2015 | By

US group to provide maintenance at UAE gas group’s Das Island facilities

Projects trends

Gulf projects index

Saudi Arabia leads Gulf index rise Subscription

27 April 2015

Kingdom recovers lost ground on projects value, while most other markets struggle

Gulf projects index

Gulf index sees biggest fall in months Subscription

21 April 2015

Only three countries post expansions in value

Gulf projects index

Bahrain makes biggest gains Subscription

14 April 2015

Iran and Qatar also expand, but fail to lift Gulf Projects Index

More Gulf Projects Index

All companies

More UAE company profiles



Ali Mohammed al-Mazyood Subscription

1 April 2015

Ali Mohammed al-Mazyood is director of engineering at Dubai Health Authority

Andrew Ward Subscription

28 January 2015

Andrew Ward is managing partner at Dentons Abu Dhabi

Rajan Phakey Subscription

28 January 2015

Rajan Phakey is partner at Dentons Abu Dhabi UAE

Jon Nash Subscription

28 January 2015

Jon Nash is partner at Dentons Abu Dhabi

Udayan Mukherjee Subscription

28 January 2015

Udayan Mukherjee is partner at Dentons Dubai

Ian Dalley Subscription

28 January 2015

Ian Dalley is partner at Dentons Abu Dhabi

More UAE biographies

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MEED events

Al Gharbia Development Forum 2015

Al Gharbia Development Forum 2015

12 May 2015 | Driving Investment and securing partnerships in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi

More MEED events