United Arab Emirates Freight Transport Report

Published 16 November 2015

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United Arab Emirates Freight Transport Report
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BMI View: We expect continued robust growth across the UAE's freight modes in the near term and over our medium-term forecast period to 2020. Massive investment into freight transport infrastructure - not least the development of the UAE's nascent rail network - will ensure that growth in freight volumes continues far beyond our forecast period. This will be driven not only by domestic demand, but will also be massively informed by the UAE's becoming one of the world's foremost global transhipment hubs.

Looking at the UAE's domestic trade growth prospects, we are bullish in both real and nominal terms. Looking first at real growth, we forecast an expansion of 5.1% in total trade in 2016, followed by a further 4.9% in 2017. Imports will outpace exports, at 6.2% to 4.0% in 2016 and 6.0% to 3.7% in 2017. This reflects the shaky outlook for the oil sector, and the determination by the government to keep up spending, and the subsequent buoyant outlook for consumer spending. Real total trade growth to 2020 will average 4.0% annually.

For the next few years, until the country's new rail network, currently under development, is complete, road haulage will remain absolutely vital to the UAE's economy. Even after the rail network's completion we do not see it losing importance, although its growth will slow. Our growth forecasts for road freight volumes project an average annual expansion rate of 2.5% over our medium-term forecast period to 2020, Although that masks growth slowing from a forecast 3.1% in 2016 to 1.4% in 2020.

We forecast that the UAE's two primary airports will enjoy robust growth in 2016 and beyond, as they continue to capitalise on their role as a global transhipment hub. Air freight will be the outperformer in the country, primarily driven by global rather than domestic demand. It is supported in this by the major airlines of Emirates and Etihad, and by continued investment in developing airport infrastructure.

Key Forecasts

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BMI Industry View
Freight Transport
Operational Risk
Industry Forecast
Trade Forecast
Table: Trade Overview (United Arab Emirates 2012-2019)
Table: Key Trade Indicators (United Arab Emirates 2012-2019)
Table: The UAE's Top Import Partners, 2006-2013 (USDmn)
Table: The UAE's Top Export Partners, 2006-2013 (USDmn)
Road Freight Forecast
Table: Road Freight (United Arab Emirates 2012-2019)
Air Freight Forecast
Table: Air Freight (United Arab Emirates 2012-2019)
Market Overview
Company Profile
Emirates SkyCargo
Etihad Cargo
Political Outlook
Domestic Politics
Some Risks Remain
Table: UAE - Political Table
Long-Term Political Outlook
Oil Price Outlook
Europe - Brent On Board For A Bumpy Ride
Macroeconomic Forecasts
Economic Analysis
GDP By Expenditure
Table: UAE - Private Consumption Forecasts
Table: UAE - Government Consumption Forecasts
Table: UAE - Fixed investment Forecasts
Table: UAE - Net Exports Forecasts
Demographic Forecast
Demographic Outlook
Table: Population Headline Indicators (United Arab Emirates 1990-2025)
Table: Key Population Ratios (United Arab Emirates 1990-2025)
Table: Urban/Rural Population & Life Expectancy (United Arab Emirates 1990-2025)
Table: Population By Age Group (United Arab Emirates 1990-2025)
Table: Population By Age Group % (United Arab Emirates 1990-2025)
Industry Forecast Methodology
Sector-Specific Methodology

The United Arab Emirates Freight Transport Report has been researched at source, and features latest-available data covering commercial transport and logistics by road, rail, air and water; industry forecasts, company rankings covering leading national and multinational operators; and analysis of latest industry trends, opportunities, projects and regulatory changes.

Business Monitor International (BMI)'s United Arab Emirates Freight Transport Report provides industry professionals and strategists, sector analysts, investors, trade associations and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the Emirati freight transport and logistics industry.

Key Benefits

  • Benchmark BMI's independent freight transport industry forecasts on United Arab Emirates to test other views - a key input for successful budgetary and planning in the strategic freight transport market.
  • Target business opportunities and risks in the Emirati freight transport sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in United Arab Emirates.
  • Assess the activities, strategy and market position of your competitors, partners and clients via our Company Profiles (inc. SWOTs, KPIs, and latest activity).


BMI Industry View

Summary of BMI’s key industry forecasts, views and trend analysis covering freight transport and logistics, regulatory changes, major investments and projects and significant national and multinational company developments.

Industry SWOT Analysis

Analysis of the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the freight transport sector and within the broader political, economic and business environment.

BMI Industry Forecasts

Historic data series (2008-2012) and forecasts to end-2019 for all key industry and economic indicators (see list below), supported by explicit assumptions plus analysis of key downside risks to the main forecast including:

  • Transport Sector: Total freight carried by road, rail, inland waterways, maritime, air and pipeline (mn tonnes-km/mn tonnes).
  • Trade: Exports and imports (USDmn) by category of goods (manufactured goods, food, chemicals etc.); top five import and export trade partners (USDmn); imports/exports to each global region (USDmn)
  • Port Data: Throughput (‘000 tonnes) for all major ports in the state.
  • Oil Products Prices: Price forecasts for gasoline and aviation fuel (USD/bbl) at all major global energy trading hubs.
  • Economic Indicators: Nominal GDP (USDbn); real GDP growth (%); GDP per capita (USD); industrial production (%); unemployment (%)

Market Overview

Details of the freight infrastructure in each state by segment (road, rail, air, water and pipelines). Full analysis of the competitive landscape within each segment.

Industry Trends and Developments

Analysis of the latest projects across the freight transport sector (road, rail, air, sea and logistics) including a market overview which provides an outline of the key elements driving development.

Political Outlook

The Freight Transport market reports contain a chapter detailing the political outlook of a given region, examining the domestic politics, long-term outlook and foreign policy, and assessing the impact this could have on freight and transport businesses.

Company Profiles*

Examines the short- to medium-term business strategies of key industry players. Strategy is examined within the context of BMI’s industry forecasts, our macroeconomic views and our understanding of the wider competitive landscape to generate company SWOT analyses.

The latest financial and operating statistics and key company developments are also incorporated within the company profiles, enabling a full evaluation of recent company performance and future growth prospects.


The Freight Transport reports draw on an extensive network of primary sources, such as multilateral organisations, government departments, industry associations, chambers and company reports

*Company profiles are not available for every country. Those reports instead contain information on the current activities of prominent companies operating in the market.