This report presents the first preliminary profile and ranking of the leading multinational enterprises of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), using the methodology developed by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment’s Emerging Markets Global Players (EMGP) project. The EMGP methodology relies heavily on direct data from relevant multinational firms. However, gathering the required information for firms from the UAE has involved significant challenges. In particular, firms have not responded to requests to participate in a survey and comparable financial information is not always readily available through other public sources. This report therefore identifies and analyzes companies on the basis of publicly available information. Among all of the 164 publicly listed UAE firms and other large non-listed UAE firms, there are 16 firms that have publicly available information on international investment activities. We have included all these 16 firms in our analysis. These companies represent the UAE’s largest multinational enterprises ranked based on the value of foreign assets for which relevant data is publicly available. Hence, this report is to be considered a first version, to be enhanced over time as companies communicate more information about their international activities to researchers and publicly accessible sources.

The 16 companies identified in this ranking had a total of US$102 billion assets outside the UAE at the end of 2014. Topping the ranking are Etisalat, an Abu Dhabi-based telecommunications company and International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), an Abu Dhabi-based energy conglomerate. Firms involved in real estate are the most prevalent on the list with seven companies active in that industry. In terms of revenue, the companies on the list generated $79 billion of revenue outside the UAE during 2014, of which IPIC accounted for 64% ($52.8 billion). Twelve of the 16 companies are quoted on one of the UAE’s three stock exchanges (DFM, ADX, NASDAQ Dubai), with three others being entirely government owned and one privately owned.

Government entities own controlling shares in half of the companies on the list. The UAE government authorities at both the federal and the emirate levels are important drivers of the internationalization of the UAE’s corporate sector. The main economic priorities of the UAE are outlined in the UAE Vision 2021 as well as the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and the Dubai Plan 20212. These economic priorities include diversification of the economy away from energy and the development of an open and competitive knowledge economy. UAE government authorities encourage outward FDI by government-controlled firms as a way to diversify income sources, develop the corporate sector in the UAE and as a complement to outward foreign portfolio investment. Since the UAE has been running consistent trade and budget surpluses, mainly as a result of oil exports that accrue to the government, it has ample funds to invest abroad.

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