UAE 2023: What's Happened So Far, What's in Store?

UAE 2023: What's Happened So Far, What's in Store?

As we hit the halfway point in 2023, we look into the key events of 2023 so far, as well as to the future

Here we are at the half-way point of 2023 (already!), an ideal time to review the events of the year so far in the UAE and what to look for during the rest of 2023.

While big players such as Saudi Arabia are making huge moves in the logistics, tourism and commercial sectors, the UAE is something of a leader already in this regard.

While the UAE has many ambitious future plans of its own still to realise, in recent years it has made the move from ambitious Middle Eastern upstart to established global influencer.

In many ways, the UAE was the first of the major Middle Eastern states to think on an interconnected global scale, and it is now reaping the rewards.

This piece explores the latest developments in the sector, specifically with regard to transport and logistics, and then looks forward to the rest of 2023.

Key Events so Far

Economy & Finance

To start with the macro perspective, the UAE financial sector has seen the combined net profit of the UAE’s 10 largest banks rise by 35% in Q1 due to enhanced cost efficiencies and lower impairment charges, according to consultants Alvarez & Marsal.

This news has been buttresed by the value of the UAE gold reserves rising 41% in the 12 months to the end of April, according to the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE).

This is all part of the news that the UAE's economic growth is expected to remain solid, with a rise of 4.6% expected between 2022 to 2024.

The Arab Monetary Fund also reported that Arab countries with economic diversification initiatives that aim to improve resilience, enhance business environments, empower the private sector and invest in human capital are much more stable in the face of global economic uncertainty.

This will be music to the ears of the UAE government, who've long-held to this strategy, and is potentially why a recent policy came into action that allows UAE workers to earn up to Dh10,000 per month extra by working as part-timers to supplement their income.

Transport & Logistics

For us here at the TLME offices, the highlight so far has been the latest iteration of our yearly awards ceremony - The TLME Inspiration Awards, which were held in Dubai on May 25th.

The awards saw elite performers from across the regional and global transport and logistics chain recognized and honoured for their inspiring contributions to the industry over 2022/23.

Presented by Dubai One TV's Katie Jensen, the awards were a 'major success' and saw winners across 30 awards in 5 categories.

To watch a video covering the event, click here.

In terms of logistics, the UAE ranked as the 'Most Improving Country in the GCC', according to the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) from the World Bank.

The UAEs performance ranks easily the highest in the region
The UAEs performance ranks easily the highest in the regionNasser Saidi & Associates

The UAE's performance in the 2023 Logistics Performance Index indicates that it has fully weathered the storm of the recent pandemic, returning to pre-pandemic levels of operation.

The UAE's performance is also evidence of its strategy, within ports and the wider supply chain, to digitise operations is proving to be a success.

Given the UAE has ambition, ingenuity and finances in its ranks, as well as space to build, it is able to build ultra-modern infrastructure that optimizes operations, reduces downtime, and promotes sustainability.

With a host of pressures from global governments, shippers and liners, this latter point is especially important.

H2, 2023

Other key performance indicators (KPIs) for the region's future include the recent news that ADNOC Logistics and Services has been awarded a US$975-million artificial island construction contract by ADNOC Offshore.

As part of ADNOC’s In-Country Value program, at least 75% of the total contract value for dredging, land reclamation and marine construction of an artificial island “G” for the Lower Zakum offshore field, will flow back into the UAE economy.

This is among many extremely ambitious projects in the UAE, that includes its burgeoning space programme, and the UAE rail programme, which is being developed by Etihad Rail (see below).

Also in the works is the Burj Binghatti, which is set to be the world's tallest residential tower, and Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi Airport, which is set to be opened in late 2023.

On completion, the Midfield Terminal can accommodate 11,000 passengers per hour, which is around 45 million passengers annually.

Also in Abu Dhabi, we see that real estate is on the up.

Data released by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) explains major growth in transactions, sales value, and investor participation.


The second half (H2) of 2023 is dominated by the upcoming Conference of the Parties in its 28th iteration (COP28).

The annual COP events see the world's leaders, climate specialists, business visionaries and global figures join to work together on the health of the planet.

Insight: How Will COP28 Change the Middle East?

A major focus in sustainability at present is on finance and feasibility, as well as accountability, henceforth, COP28 is likely to focus heavily on diplomacy, that is, forming and managing international relations to ensure a desired outcome.

In simple terms, this means the global order uniting to put pressure on businesses and individuals who talk-the-talk but do not walk-the-walk.

Another key issue is likely to be the aforementioned climate financing for those hit hardest by climate change, and following on from this, a major arena for the logistics market will be supply chains.

The Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate initiative, led by the UN, USA & UAE, is likely to be a key driver at COP 28, as we explore new models of food production and security.

Finally, expect to see major conversations on the health of our oceans - again, a big issue for those in the supply chain - as well as the growth of resilient systems to handle projected temperature changes.

Read more: Which Country Will be M.E. Logistics King?

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