Bangladesh-UAE Cooperation: Exploring Investment Potentials


Recent developments indicate an enhancement in diplomatic ties between Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), demonstrated through strategic consultations, MoU signings, and a mutual emphasis on shared interests. During this promising period, the impact of recent developments in 2022-2023 lays the groundwork for potential investment opportunities in 2024. Recently, UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan highlights the importance of enhancing bilateral relationships, particularly focusing on strategic partnership in labor mobility and remittances as diplomatic relations near their 50th anniversary in 2024. The acknowledgment of Bangladeshi expatriate workers’ accomplishments by the UAE, coupled with efforts to streamline immigration procedures and foster agricultural collaborations, showcases a comprehensive partnership. In line with Bangladesh’s overarching vision for a Smart Bangladesh, efforts are being made to enhance connections between people through educational exchanges, tourism, and cultural events. Emphasizing the robust alliance between the two parties, this collaboration not only drives economic growth but also establishes a solid foundation for enduring friendship and cooperation over five decades of diplomatic partnership.

Bangladesh-UAE Cooperation

Economic Partnership

Bangladesh and the UAE’s economic engagement has grown into a dynamic and mutually beneficial alliance, with exceptional growth expected in 2023. Bilateral commerce increased to an astonishing $1.8 billion throughout this time, illustrating the strong and resilient nature of their economic partnership. Bangladesh has emerged as a substantial contributor to the UAE market, notably in garment, textile, and agricultural exports. This not only demonstrates the range and quality of Bangladesh’s exports, but it also strengthens the country’s position as a significant trade partner for the UAE. The trade figures show that Bangladesh’s exports have been steadily increasing over time.

In exchange, the UAE has proved its commitment to promoting economic growth in Bangladesh. The UAE has made substantial investments in Bangladesh’s essential industries such as infrastructure, energy, and real estate. These investments not only help Bangladesh’s economic progress, but also contribute to the general prosperity and development of both countries.

The trade figures from 2011 to 2022 illustrate the economic partnership’s favorable trend. Import and export data have risen significantly, showing the growing extent and depth of bilateral economic interaction. This positive story demonstrates the endurance and vitality of the Bangladesh-UAE economic relationship, laying the groundwork for future development and partnership.

Bangladesh’s Trade with UAE (in Million USD)

Year Export Import
2011 117 118
2015 713 277
2020 1010 414
2022 1320 808


Global Workforce Swap

The UAE remains a prominent choice for skilled and semi-skilled workers from Bangladesh. During the initial six months of 2022, around 57,988 workers from Bangladesh arrived in the UAE, showcasing the high demand for Bangladeshi labor in industries like construction, hospitality, and domestic services. This partnership is advantageous for both nations, creating job prospects for workers from Bangladesh and meeting the workforce requirements of the UAE.

Bangladesh-UAE Relationship Strengthening: Backing Secured for COP28 Leadership

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister pledged complete support to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for its UNFCCC COP28 presidency. During a meeting with the UAE Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology, a commitment was made to participate in the Climate Vulnerable Forum Troika. The discussions also touched on addressing climate migrants, setting up a loss and damage fund, and the importance of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions to curb global temperature rise. Both countries are looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, and Bangladesh has offered support for the UAE’s green initiatives. Furthermore, discussions delved into enhancing collaboration on energy provision and sustainable energy, with the UAE suggesting an evaluation of requirements in Bangladesh.

Exploring the Potential of Bangladesh-UAE Energy Collaboration

The UAE has shown keen interest in investing in Bangladesh’s energy sector, with a particular emphasis on renewable energy. Discussing plans to send teams to Bangladesh for renewable energy and business discussions, UAE Minister Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The discussion also addressed climate change, with the UAE requesting assistance from Bangladesh on climate and food security matters. Both nations are looking to work together on global climate initiatives, offering exciting opportunities for increased energy collaboration, investment, and technology sharing.

Development Assistance

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a significant development partner for Bangladesh, providing substantial assistance in key areas like healthcare, education, and disaster management. Over the last ten years, the UAE has shown strong support for Bangladesh’s advancement, providing a substantial $3 billion in development aid. This significant donation has been instrumental in driving forward the socio-economic environment of the nation, showcasing the depth and importance of the partnership between the two parties.The UAE’s assistance has played a crucial role in strengthening important sectors that have a direct impact on the welfare of the Bangladeshi people. Enhancements in healthcare have boosted the nation’s ability to tackle public health challenges, while investments in education have enabled Bangladesh to fortify its educational infrastructure. Highlighting the UAE’s dedication to enhancing resilience and minimizing the effects of natural disasters, the disaster management assistance demonstrates a joint commitment to the well-being of the population.

The data on UAE Net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Inflows to Bangladesh highlights the growing economic relationship between the two countries. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in foreign direct investment, with 2022 seeing a substantial influx of $102 million. This trend mirrors the UAE’s trust in Bangladesh’s economic prospects and dedication to promoting sustainable development via direct investments.

By providing financial aid and attracting foreign investment, the UAE demonstrates its commitment to being a supportive development ally, emphasizing a common vision for advancement. The achievement of reaching a $3 billion development assistance milestone reflects the strong bond and cooperative relationship between the UAE and Bangladesh, setting the stage for ongoing progress and mutual success.

UAE Net FDI Inflows to Bangladesh (in Million USD)

2000 0.86
2005 12
2010 22
2015 11
2020 98
2022 102

Cultural and Diplomatic Collaboration

The cultural ties between Bangladesh and the UAE have deepened over time through cultural delegations, festivals, and events, fostering mutual understanding. The Bangladeshi community in the UAE plays a vital role in connecting different cultures. Diplomatically, both countries maintain friendly relations, with a keen interest from UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in exploring cooperation with Bangladesh, particularly in food security and visa procedures.

Exploring the Potential of Bangladesh-UAE Relations: Investment Opportunities in 2024 Building Commitments for Future Growth

A recent meeting between Mahbubul Alam, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), and Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, is set to usher in a new era in Bangladesh-UAE relations. FBCCI’s commitment and assurance to support UAE investors highlight a common vision for enhancing economic collaboration between the two countries.

Exploring the Investment Potential of Bangladesh Revealed

In a recent conversation with Lootah, Mahbubul Alam emphasized Bangladesh’s investment-friendly atmosphere, pointing out the completion of major infrastructure projects and the creation of 100 Special Economic Zones. The UAE businessmen have been invited to explore various sectors such as garments, ceramics, leather goods, and jute in Bangladesh, highlighting the country’s diverse investment opportunities and comparing them to successful investments made by other countries.

The UAE’s Strategic Approach to Investment

The Dubai Chamber’s decision to establish a specialized team to evaluate investment opportunities in Bangladesh demonstrates a strategic and thorough approach. Aside from financial transactions, the interest in recruiting skilled manpower from Bangladesh indicates a significant and multifaceted economic partnership. This strategic initiative demonstrates a thorough assessment of opportunities and a dedication to fostering long-term partnerships.

Looking Beyond the Headlines: A Unified Vision

As Bangladesh and the UAE delve into the exploration of investment potentials in 2024, the story extends far beyond simple financial transactions. This envisioned partnership reflects mutual interests and shared growth, emphasizing a comprehensive and enduring collaboration. The proactive engagement, emphasis on support, and strategic approach by both nations signify a new chapter in their relationship, hinting at a future of shared prosperity that goes beyond mere headlines.

In conclusion, The relationship between Bangladesh and the UAE has experienced a significant improvement in various aspects including economic, diplomatic, cultural, and developmental areas. In 2023, economic ties soared to record levels as bilateral trade surged to $1.8 billion, showcasing a strong and ever-evolving partnership. The UAE’s substantial investments in Bangladesh’s infrastructure and the $3 billion development assistance over the past decade highlight their dedication to mutual growth. As the 50th year of diplomatic relations in 2024 approaches, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan reiterates the dedication to strengthening ties, with a focus on strategic collaboration in labor migration and simplified visa processes. Strengthening cultural and diplomatic ties enhances mutual understanding and respect. An important shift is noticeable in the recent discussion between the President of FBCCI and the CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, paving the way for potential investment opportunities in 2024. This enduring partnership transcends mere financial transactions, embodying shared interests, mutual growth, and a new chapter in Bangladesh-UAE relations.

– S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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