The environment surrounding business in the UAE has changed dramatically over the last 10 or 20 years with more and more companies now more prominent than ever before. It is easy to forget that the UAE was not formed until 1971 and indeed it is only recently, due in the main to the rise of the Dubai economy and subsequent fall, that the area has attracted the attention of the worldwide press.
The UAE economy
There is no doubt that the economy of the United Arab Emirates has increased dramatically in size over the last decade as overseas money continues to pour into the region. After the turmoil surrounding the Dubai property market, which saw a number of businesses collapse, many experts believe that investors will return in due course. The area itself is dominated by the economies of Dubai and Abu Dhabi with over 80% of economic activity centred round these two particular emirates.
In order to operate a business in the region there are various hurdles to clear and one is the subject of business visas. Despite the fact that the economy of the region has fallen back somewhere, in line with the worldwide economic downturn, the authorities are still very keen to attract overseas business. As a consequence, business visas are available available to those able to invest significant amounts of money in the region or indeed those who have a significant stake in existing businesses. The truth is that money talks in each and every economy around the world and where there is demand there will be some give and take between the authorities and relevant third parties.
Employment law and the UAE are still very much at an early stage with a number of companies commenting upon the lack of protection for employees. There have been developments in these particular fields but absolutely it will take time to filter through and at the moment there is no doubt that employees have significantly less protection than those in the Western world. The recent economic collapse saw a massive increase in the number of companies going under and many employees were legally left high and dry, owed significant amount of money.
Government policies towards business
Over the last decade we have seen significant changes with regards to the attitude and the policies implemented by the UAE authorities. The area is well recognized as one of the more positive and forward thinking in the region and where some are attributable to embrace Western businesses and Western cultures, the authorities in the UAE are very much in favor of overseas investment. It will be interesting to see if these forward thinking policies continue in the medium to long term because there is no doubt that many see the UAE as a stepping stone to the region.
The business arena in the UAE has changed dramatically over the last decade and the impact of Western businesses and Western investors is there for all to see. This is likely to continue into the future despite some negative comment from some experts in the field of international business.