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United Arab Emirates

CbI capabilities 

Recent work: CbI has completed dozens of UAE-focused due diligence reports on companies in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the smaller emirates. We have a particular knowledge of the various investment councils and government structure in Abu Dhabi and during Dubai’s debt crisis focused on the political dynamics between the UAE’s two leading emirates.

Corporate records: Corporate records can be obtained from some emirates – for example in Abu Dhabi from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development. Information usually includes address, incorporate date, registration number, capital, directors and shareholders. The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry holds some information on a company’s employees, bankers, agencies and management. Please contact us for more information.

Country background 

Established in 1971, the federation of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain is a liberal and progressive state as far as the economy goes, but remains politically conservative. The federal government has legislative and executive jurisdiction over areas including foreign affairs, security and defence, air traffic control, education, public health, currency, electricity and immigration. Each emirate retains considerable economic independence and control over mineral rights and revenues. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi has been dominant, and its ruler, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, is president of the federation. Each emirate’s ruler sits on the Supreme Council, the highest executive and legislative authority. The Council of Ministers makes most federal decisions, while the Federal National Council – which since 2006 has been half elected and half nominated – acts as an advisory council.

The UAE is working hard to shape its profile as an emerging regional and global power. It pulled out of the Gulf Monetary Union in 2009, angry that Riyadh had been chosen over Abu Dhabi as the headquarters for the monetary council, and has reservations about a more integrated Gulf Union. The federation is becoming an increasingly important part of US policy in the Gulf, and, despite concerns over human rights abuses, is widely perceived as one of the most stable countries in the region.

The UAE sits on about 8-10% of the world’s known oil reserves, almost all of which are in Abu Dhabi. The latter accounts for well over half of the federation’s economy: preliminary figures suggest that, in 2011, it accounted for roughly 64% of GDP. The UAE joined Opec in 1967, and is its fourth largest producer, pumping around 2.8m b/d. Abu Dhabi plans to invest $60bn over the next five years to increase that to 3.5m b/d, and much of the new output is expected to head to Asian markets. Abu Dhabi also controls around 3.5% of global gas reserves, although its reliance on gas-fuelled power plants means it still faces shortages.

Economic diversification is bearing fruit: in Abu Dhabi, the private sector now accounts for nearly a third of the emirate’s GDP. Dubai, which does not have the oil wealth of its larger neighbour, has long tried to position itself as a trade hub and tourist centre. In 2008, waves from the global credit crunch swamped Dubai and, by early 2009, it was effectively bankrupt. Abu Dhabi stepped in with a $10bn five-year bond via the UAE Central Bank, and a further bailout later that year. Also key to the economy are investments abroad, mostly through government-owned vehicles. Some estimates put the combined assets of Abu Dhabi’s investments overseas at more than $1trn.

Governance: The UAE performs the best of the GCC states when it comes to Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index – it was ranked 26th (joint with Austria) out of 175 countries. It was the first to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption and in 2012 ordered the State Audit Institution to prepare draft anti-corruption legislation. Observers say the UAE pays close attention to Transparency International rankings and how their country compares to neighbours.