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Dubai non-oil trade in first quarter of 2019 grows 7% to reach AED 339 billion 

Dubai recorded a non-oil foreign trade of AED 339 billion in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 7% year-on-year from AED 316 billion recorded in Q1 last year. Exports registered the most growth, rising 30% to reach AED 42 billion while re-exports grew 7% to AED 106 billion and imports went up by 4% to reach AED 190 billion.  

Data released by Dubai Customs showed that Dubai’s Q1 2019 non-oil trade volumes increased by 32% to 28 million tons (21 million tons in Q1 2018). Exports rose by 94% to 6 million tons while re-exports surged 41% to 4 million tons and imports rose 16% to 17 million tons.

Commenting on the non-oil trade figures in the first quarter, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said:  “This robust performance and marked growth of Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade is an indication that we are on the right path of revenue diversification in alignment with the values and standards outlined in the 50-Year Charter. The Dubai Silk Road Strategy supports decades of successful investment in developing the emirate’s infrastructure. In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we are committed to developing our government services so that we can become a world-class model for future governments based on knowledge, innovation and advanced AI applications.”

Dubai’s non-oil trade grew 58% in the 2010-2019 decade; an increase of AED 124 billion from Q1 2010 which saw AED 215 billion. 


Trade through free zones reached AED 147 billion (+20% YoY). Direct trade was the largest contributor to total trade at AED 189 billion (-0.5% YoY) and customs warehousing accounted for AED 2.3 billion (-21% YoY).

Air and sea trade accounted for 85% of the total trade, with both witnessing double-digit increases. Air trade accounted for AED 158 billion (+11% YoY) and sea trade recorded AED 129 billion (+10% YoY). Trade by land reached AED 52 billion. 

Trade with Asia, the largest trading region for Dubai, increased by 7% to AED 208 billion. Trade with Europe, the second largest partner, touched AED 58 billion. Africa witnessed the biggest growth, rising 36% to reach AED 42 billion. Americas and Oceania also contributed with high single digit growth, up 7% (AED 27 billion) and 9% (AED 3.5 billion) respectively.

Sultan Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation said: “We are pleased to report that trade in Dubai has rebounded in the first quarter of 2019 with non-oil trade growing 7.3% year-on-year to reach AED 339 billion. This strong growth has been delivered despite the challenging macro and geopolitical environment, which further highlights the strength and resilience of the Dubai economy. Importantly, we have seen significant growth in both exports (+30%) and re-exports (+7%) which reinforces Dubai’s profile as the key hub for the region. Overall, despite geopolitical headwinds, we remain excited about the outlook for Dubai, particularly with the lead up to EXPO 2020.”

Strong growth was witnessed across the top three trading partners. The top three trading countries by value remained the same as Q1 2018. The biggest trading partner was China, followed by India and the USA. These contributed AED 36 billion (+8% YoY), AED 33 billion (+40% YoY) and AED 20 billion (+10% YoY) respectively to the total value traded in Q1 2019. Saudi Arabia was the largest trade partner in the Arab world with AED 13.2 billion worth of non-oil trade in Q1 2019. 

The total value of gold, diamonds and jewelry traded through Dubai in Q1 2019 totaled AED 90 billion, an increase of 9% YoY. The phones market (AED 42 billion) was the highest contributor and trade in petroleum oils more than doubled from last year at AED 21 billion.  

Bin Sulayem pointed out that Dubai Customs recently launched a number of initiatives including a new disruptive berthing service for vessels using the Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai). The new system: (Smart Vessel Berthing System) will help vessels load and unload their goods with the help of an advanced AI based service. Another initiative was the launch of the ‘Virtual Stock Guarantee’ initiative. The new facility was developed by Dubai Customs to support re-export activity from free zones to external markets as part of Dubai Customs’ efforts to help Dubai maintain a leading position and become a global economic capital. This initiative is the first of its kind in the world. Dubai Customs also launched the ‘Productivity Engine’, which uses artificial intelligence to boost productivity, reduce costs and make clients happier and more satisfied.

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