At the time of independence, the UAE was already regarded as a rich country with GDP per capita exceeding US$ 2,000. In 2011, UAE is ranked as the 14th best nation in the world for doing business based on its economy and regulatory environment, ranked by the Doing Business 2011 Report published by the World Bank Group
The UAE has an open economy with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and a sizable annual trade surplus. In 2009, its GDP, as measured by purchasing power parity, stood at US$ 400.4 billion. The GDP per capita is currently the third in the world and second in the Middle East, after Qatar and Kuwait as measured by the CIA World Factbook, or the 17th in the world as measured by the International Monetary Fund.
With almost US$ 1 trillion in foreign invested assets, some argue the UAE to be the richest, with the highest average income in the world. Over half of this money is generated by the nation's capital, Abu Dhabi. With a population of just under 900,000 Abu Dhabi was labeled "The richest city in the world" by a CNN article .
UAE's economy, particularly that of Dubai, was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2007–2010. In 2009, the country's economy shrank by 4.00%, but UAE's overseas investments are expected to support its full economic recovery. However, concern remains about the property sector. Property prices in Dubai fell dramatically when Dubai World, the government construction company, sought to delay a debt payment. The ability to service debt remains a problem.
Petroleum and natural gas exports play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. More than 85% of the UAE's economy was based on the exports of natural resources in 2009.
A massive construction boom, an expanding manufacturing base, and a thriving services sector are helping the UAE diversify its economy. Nationwide, there is currently $350 billion worth of active construction projects. Aluminum, steel, iron and