X: The UAE – Prime Location and Gateway to the MENASA Region (10 things to know before setting up a business in the UAE)

17 Jul 2023 | General

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the UAE enjoys a geographically advantageous position of being a key East-West and North-South global location. For UK SMEs looking to explore and expand operations into a new market, they can look no further than the UAE as the country offers:

  • Gateway and easy access to emerging markets in the GCC and the wider MENASA region
  • Access to a 1/3 of the global population within 4 hours and within 9 hours flight, 2/3 of the world’s population
  • Major international and regional airlines (Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai, AirArabia etc) operate through different airports in the UAE, providing means to get anywhere in the world in one go everyday (cargo & people)

The UAE has invested significantly in building a number of key infrastructures including airports, seaports, roads, and rail networks including the Etihad rail (which allows transport of goods & services anywhere in the GCC region within 2-3 days).

As a result of being strategically located along important international trade routes and shipping lanes, the country’s proximity to major global markets additionally enables UK SMEs & businesses to tap into profitable trade & investment opportunities and establish strong supply chains.

  • Airports – There are approx. 9 airports across the UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, & the northern Emirates). Dubai International Airport (DXB) for instance, functions as a major aviation hub and supports 100+ airlines and provides access to more than 260 destinations worldwide. Whilst the local UAE market is relatively small (9+ million population), the country’s airports offer UK businesses the opportunity to work and trade more easily around much larger territories such as the MENASA region.


  • Ports – in Dubai (Jebel Ali), Abu Dhabi (AD Ports), and other emirates serve as crucial transit points as well for goods flowing between the continents – Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. UK SMEs for instance, can benefit from reduced transit times & costs, faster sourcing of materials and efficient delivery of goods to their clients & customers.

The UAE’s strategic position as a hub for trade and investment continues to attract global attention & investment, thus providing a compelling argument for the country as an ideal base for UK SMEs to establish their regional and international operations. With the UAE’s firm commitment to growth and development, the country is set to play an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the future of the region’s business landscape.

In the next series, we’ll explore key trends, latest developments and opportunities emerging across select countries within the GCC and wider Middle East region. Stay tuned!