The United Arab Emirates had an estimated population of 9,890,402 at mid-year of 2020, according to UN data. Based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest UN data, the UAE had a population of 9,961,162 as of February 4, 2021, with 86.4% living in urban areas, mainly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The median age of the population is 32.6 years. The UAE had an online population of about 9.1 million by the end of 2019, according to the PPRO WECE Report.


The high rates of internet and smartphone penetration make the UAE a well-established market for e-commerce. The average annual revenue per paying user was $1,310 as of the end of 2019, according to the PPRO WECE Report. Gulf News reported that e-commerce transactions in the UAE amounted to a total of $16 billion in 2019 and were projected to grow at 23% annually between 2018 and 2022. Most cross-border purchases by Emiratis are products from the United States, United Kingdom and India.

Average annual revenue per paying user
$16 billion
Total transaction value

Payment preferences

About 39% of Emirati shoppers prefer to pay by card, followed by e-wallets, bank transfers, cash and other payment methods. For cashless payments, the big players are WeChat Pay, Visa, PayPal, Mastercard, Union Pay and Alipay.


According to IMF data, the UAE had a gross domestic product of $422.22 billion in 2019, which declined to $421.14 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic. The UAE’s GDP is currently estimated at about $373.15 billion.

Internet & mobile phone trends

According to the Medialab, most internet users in the UAE are aged between 16 and 64. According to Datareportal, there were 9.73 million internet users in January 2020, which increased by about 128,000 (+1.3%) between 2019 and 2020, bringing the internet penetration rate to 99% in January 2020. Meanwhile, smartphone penetration stood at 96% at the end of 2019, according to the PPRO WECE Report.


According to the PPRO WECE Report, 88% of Emiratis have bank accounts, with 45% of them credit card holders.

Banked population
Cards ownership

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