The Netherlands and the UAE

Atradius news

Economic ties between the Netherlands, the UAE and the rest of the Gulf region are strong. The UAE is one of the largest export destinations for Dutch goods and services in the Gulf region.

A collection of states formed in the 1970s, that now form a regional powerhouse for international financiers and corporations. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) occupies less surface area than neighbouring Saudi Arabia or Iran but has grown into an important trading partner for countries worldwide. This also applies to the Netherlands. The UAE are largest importer of Dutch goods and services in the Gulf region, worth €2.5 billion in exports from the Netherlands in 2020.   







Atradius DSB in UAE






Despite the relatively recent formation of the UAE, the country's trade history goes back thousands of years. The Netherlands was already one of the Emirates' most important economic partners in the 16th and 17th century. Indeed, its conveniently located ports were an essential stopover on the famous Silk Road, where Asian traders met their biggest European buyers: the Portuguese, British and Dutch. At the time, it was the transit of spices and silk; many centuries later, diving for and trading in pearls became an important source of income for the region. Large-scale growth and industrialisation followed suit and skyrocketed after the discovery of oil in 1966. In a short time, Dubai and Abu Dhabi grew from relatively small fishing settlements into the mega cities we know today. 

Currently the UAE have thriving city-states with diverse economies. The attractive business climate earns them a 16th place ranking on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index (total of 189). Companies that are in attractive economic 'free zones' such as Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) claim additional benefits such as contractual security, independent jurisdiction and friendly tax regime. 

UAE major export destination

As a major export destination, the Emirates are popular among Dutch entrepreneurs. According to the latest counts, there are about 350 Dutch companies with a physical presence in the UAE. Well-known dredging companies Van Oord and Boskalis have jointly contributed to the -from space visible- port and coastal expansion of Dubai, made possible in part by export credit insurance from Atradius DSB. Other companies, such as the world leader in synthetic fibres TenCate, even have a permanent production line in the country. The main sectors in which Dutch companies are active are the oil and gas industry, agriculture, aerospace and dredging. Lucrative investment opportunities for Dutch investors exist in the UAE in the areas of renewable energy, innovative technologies and green products and services. In addition, the country is an ideal base for access to key markets in Asia and Africa.  

In recent years, many Dutch entrepreneurs have chosen to actively focus on buyers in the Gulf region. Innovations such as Twente Additive Manufacturing's 3D printer, ECSens' medical sensors and the showpiece of the Dutch 'biotope' at Expo 2020: SunGlacier's water machine, did not go unnoticed by local partners.  

Given the interest in the region from the business community and the developments in the region, the Dutch government regularly organizes trade missions. Last year there was a mission attended by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima and the Minister of BHOS. During this mission, an agreement was signed that established a joint economic working group. In addition to this diplomatic cooperation, ties with local investment and export agencies will also be strengthened in the coming year.  


The UAE has high ambitions in terms of food security and self-sufficiency in fresh fruits and vegetables. The Dutch business community, with its experience and innovative strength in areas such as greenhouse construction and irrigation, is ideally placed to contribute to these ambitions. We look forward to promoting the export of Dutch innovations in the future, together with local partners.

Irene Visser, Head of Strategy & International Relations, Atradius DSB








Dubai business







Trade mission to the United Arab Emirates

Several trade missions are again on the agenda this year. Expo Dubai is the first world exhibition in the Gulf region and is open to business and leisure visitors until March 31, 2022.

From March 21 to 23, a delegation from the Dutch agricultural and horticultural sector will travel to UAE to participate in the Expo Dubai2020.  This will be a mission with a focus on renewable energy, water and the circular economy. Atradius Dutch State Business is participating in the trade mission and will be represented by Irene Visser, Head of Strategy and International Relations and Margriet van Dongen, Business Developer. They will further strengthen ties with the local Atradius office in the region during their visit so that Atradius DSB can serve exporters and buyers in the region even better.  Atradius Dutch State Business will focus on opportunities for Dutch exporters in the region over the next year. 

This high-level trade mission is led by Mark Harbers from the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management and Ingrid Thijssen chairperson at the VNO-NCW . Multiple companies specialised in sustainable future-proof solutions for water, energy and the circular economy will be joining the mission to the United Arab Emirates. Holland Circular Hotspot and the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) will host the parts of the programme focusing on circularity and water management. Among others participantes, the Dutch Greenhouse Delta will be represented, an alliance that offers many solutions for greenhouse construction, irrigation and vertical farming.

Do you want to know more about Atradius DSB's participation and agenda during the mission? Or do you have question about what we can do for your organization and its development in UAE region? Then we kindly ask you to get in contact with our Business Developer Margriet van Dongen via of  +31 (0) 6 12760576