Export Composition and Economic Growth in the UAE

in collaboration with the American University of Sharjah

LSE PI: Dr Athanasia Kalaitzi
Co-PI: Dr Samer Kherfi 
Duration: August 2019 – October 2021

A boat taxi in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2017.

Export growth has been shown to have a positive impact on economic growth. It increases investment in sectors where a country has a comparative advantage by facilitating the adoption of advanced technologies, increasing national production and raising the rate of economic growth.

However, there is also evidence that exports have a negative effect on economic growth, especially in countries where primary exports constitute a large share of total exports. Primary exports can be subject to excessive price fluctuations and do not offer knowledge spillovers and other externalities that some non-primary exports do. In the UAE, where primary exports mainly consist of oil, emphasis must be placed on non-oil exports to achieve sustained economic growth.

Over the period 1981–2017, the UAE experienced significant export diversification and a high rate of economic growth. In particular, export diversification is reflected in the increase of non-oil exports during the last three decades.

This project will investigate whether a further increase in the degree of export diversification will foster further economic growth in the UAE. The results of this study will contribute to the discourse on the design of future economic policies in the country and will also be instructive for other countries attempting to emulate a similar economic model.

This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.

 Project Outputs

Research Team


Dr Athanasia Kalaitzi | Principal Investigator 

Athanasia is a Visiting Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre. Her most recent research involves examining the causality between fuel and mining exports, re-exports and economic growth in the UAE.

samer 200x200

Dr Samer Kherfi | Co-Principal Investigator

Samer is Associate Professor of Economics at AUS. His research focuses on education and labor market outcomes in the Middle East, as well as macroeconomic forecasting.

sahel al-rousan 400x400

Dr Sahel Al-Rousan| Research Partner 

Sahel is Senior Economic Advisor at the Macro-Fiscal Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, UAE. He provides technical advice on fiscal policy and general macroeconomic issues. 

marina selini 400x400

Dr Marina-Selini Katsaiti | Research Partner 

Marina-Selini is Adjunct Professor at the United Arab Emirates University and currently serves as Academic Scholar at the Agricultural University of Athens. Her research interests lie in the areas of health economics, happiness, economic growth and institutions. 

iman al ali

Iman Al-Ali | Research Assistant 

Iman is a Research Assistant on the LSE Middle East Centre project ‘Export Composition and Economic Growth in the UAE’. Her research interests include economic development, policy design, and post-conflict reconstruction in the MENA region.