The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states formed in 1971 and one of the Middle East most important economic centres. The oil industry has attracted a large influx of foreign workers who, together with expatriates, now make up more than three quarters of the population.
During the last decade, the UAE's authorities focused on reducing the country dependency on oil exports by diversifying the economy, creating booming business, tourism and construction sectors.
Dubai is the most important regional export hub and has become the third largest export centre in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore. The leading sectors of this flourishing trade, which secured the UAE the first place among the GCC states in exports, are respectively electronics, electrical equipment, precious metals and stones.
The United Arab Emirates has been a member of WTO since April 1996, it is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and is the leading trading hub of the region.
The UAE benefits from the free-trade agreements signed between the GCC and EFTA, and the GCC and Singapore. The UAE is also signatory of the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA).