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UAE Guide

The Country

he United Arab Emirates (also called the UAE) is a Middle Eastern country situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Arabian Gulf, comprising seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain. Before 1971, they were known as the Trucial States. It borders Oman and Saudi Arabia.

History

The seven Trucial Sheikdom States of the Arabian Gulf coast granted the United Kingdom control of their defense and foreign affairs in nineteenth-century treaties. In 1971, six of these states — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, and Umm Al Quwain — merged to form the United Arab Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah joined in 1972 .

Politics

Federal institutions

The Supreme Council consists of the individual rulers of the seven emirates. The President and Vice-President are elected by the Supreme Council every five years. The Supreme Council also elects the Council of Ministers, while appointed members of Federal National Council drawn from all the emirates, reviews proposed laws. All emirates have secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts.

Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (PBUH) was the union’s president from the nations founding until his death on 2 November 2004. His son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan was elected president the next day.

Geography

The Sun always shines in the UAE, its naturally desert climate and its convenient location in the Arabian Gulf has endowed it with warm seas and cozy beaches. Together with a booming economy, where trade and tourism are encouraged, it also makes for the ultimate shopping destination. It’s state-of-the-art tourist infrastructure with numerous world-class hotels, sports events and shopping spectaculars held annually, ensures its position as the Middle East’s number one tourist destination. The UAE lies in Southwest Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is a flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert wasteland; with mountains in the east.

Visiting Tips

The best times to visit UAE are in December to March. April sees the Sharjah Ramadan Festival, Abu Dhabi Festival of Sales, Dubai Summer Surprises and the Dubai Shopping Festival may be of interest to shoppers looking for good bargains. These are also the cooler months, a good time to explore the UAE. For the culturally oriented, December 2nd, the National Day of the UAE is one of the best times to visit.

The 7 Emirates and their present rulers

Emirates of the United Arab Emirates

The UAE comprises the following seven emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, since 2004
  • Ajman - Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, since 1981
  • Dubai - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, since 2006
  • Fujairah - Sheikh Hamad bin Muhammad Al Sharqi, since 1974
  • Ras Al Khaimah - Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1948
  • Sharjah - Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1987
  • Umm Al Quwain - Sheikh Saud Bin Rashid Al Mualla 2009

Economy

The UAE’s wealth is largely based on oil and gas output. It is the third largest oil producer in the Arabian Gulf after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The country’s per capita GDP is not far below the GDPs of the leading West European nations. Along with other factors like the relatively low price of commodities, the warm temperatures that prevail for most of the year, the engineering marvels such as Burj Al Arab and the Palm Islands, and friendliness to the West have led many to call it the Hong Kong of the Middle East.

Airlines

The national airline of the UAE was formerly Gulf Air, operated jointly with Bahrain and Oman. On September 13, 2005, the UAE announced that they will concentrate more on Al Etihad Airways, their new national carrier established in 2003.

In 1985, Dubai established a local airline called Emirates, which has become one of the most popular airlines in the world.

The Emirate of Sharjah has introduced an Airline named as Air Arabia. It is the first successful “No frill” airline of the region.

Demographics

The UAE’s population of 4.041 million (2005) includes more than 3.23 million non nationals. Indeed, around 50% of the population is South Asian, with the remainder being Emirati, Arab, European and East Asian. Religious beliefs are mostly Muslim (Islam is the state religion). However, there are sizable minorities of Christians, Hindus and other faiths. Arabic is the country’s official language and is used in the government and bureaucracy, while English is increasingly important commercially and as the lingua franca for non-Arab expatriates.

Culture

Rooted in Islamic culture, the UAE has strong ties with the rest of the Arab world. The government is committed to preserving traditional forms of art and culture, including the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. New sports are becoming popular alongside traditional camel racing including the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, held annually in March. Dress codes are applicable in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Holidays

Date English Name Arabic Transliteration
1 January New Year’s Day
Varies The Day of The Sacrifice Eid ul-Adha
Varies Islamic New Year Ra’s Al Sana Al Hijria
6 August Accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan-al Nahyan
Varies The Night Journey Isra’a wa al-Miraj
2 December National Day Al-Eid Al Watani
Varies End of Ramadan Eid ul-Fitr

Universities

ABU DHABI

THE CAPITAL OF UAE

Ruler: H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

The largest of the seven Emirates and the Federal capital of UAE. Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern cities in the world. Being the capital city of UAE, it is the center of government and most of the headquarters of the major oil operating companies are based here. Tourism has been highly promoted by Abu Dhabi. With its large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, state-of-the-art communication services and transport, international luxury hotel chains, Shopping malls with unbelievable architecture, Cultural centers and events offers tourists a complete experience.

Al Ain is the oasis city and the planned Garden of UAE, with its roots dating back to the 4th millennium BC. She is located at about 160 km east of Abu Dhabi.

Late Sheikh Zayed’s (PBUH) vision and commitment has seen Al Ain grow into the modern city and one of the greenest in Arabia. Al Ain is the home of the UAE University, the country’s largest museum and the biggest zoo, parks, gardens and guest houses. It is also one of the nations leading agricultural centres and is now serviced by a new international airport, which is proud of being crowned with a series of ISO accreditations. It is just one and a half hours drive from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. You may even fly into Al Ain vide domestic flights.

The best times to visit Al Ain are in the winter, when time can be spent exploring the ancient archaeological sites, the hot springs in Jebel Hafiz, the zoo etc.

There are also water springs at Ain Faidha, 14km (9 miles) from Al Ain. There are important archaeological digs at Hili, 10km (6 miles) from Al Ain. The stone tombs, including the famous Great Sepulcher date back 5000 years. South of Al Ain is the Hafit Mountain, containing ancient tombs, pottery and swords. There are more ancient sites worth visiting at Um Al Nar and Badi’i Bent Saud. A fun park is situated at Al-Hir and majestic sand seas are worth to be seen at Liwa. Other areas of great scenic beauty include Qarn Island, Belghilam Island (famous for its gazelle breeding), Sadiyat Island, and Abul-Abyadh Island.