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Map of United Arab Emirates

Overview
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia. The seven states, termed Emirates, are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.

The UAE, rich in oil and natural gas, has become highly prosperous after gaining foreign direct investment funding in the 1970s. The country has a relatively high Human Development Index for the Asian continent, ranking 39th globally, and had a GDP purchasing power parity of $164.4 billion in 2007 according to the CIA.

Before 1971, the UAE were known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, in reference to a nineteenth-century truce between Britain and several Arab Sheikhs. The name Pirate Coast was also used in reference to the area's emirates in the 18th to early 20th century.

Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a federation which consists of seven emirates. The largest emirate is Abu Dhabi which contains the nation's capital city Abu Dhabi. Five emirates have one or more exclaves, in addition to the main territory. The seven emirates:

Abu Dhabi

Ajman: 1 exclave

Dubai: 1 exclave

Fujairah: 2 exclaves

Ras al-Khaimah: 1 exclave

Sharjah: 3 exclaves

Umm al-Quwain

Politics
The Presidency and Premiership of the United Arab Emirates is de facto hereditary to the Al Nahyan clan of Abu Dhabi and the Al Maktoum clan of Dubai. The Supreme Council, consisting of the rulers of the seven emirates, also elects the Council of Ministers, while an appointed forty-member Federal National Council, drawn from all the emirates, reviews proposed laws. There is a federal court system; all emirates except Ras al-Khaimah have joined the federal system; all emirates have both secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the union's president from the nation's founding until his death on November 2, 2004. The Federal Supreme Council elected his son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president the next day. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the heir apparent.


Climate

Demographics
The UAE population has an unnatural sex distribution consisting of more than twice as many males as females. The 15-65 age group has a male(s)/female sex ratio of 2.743. UAE's gender imbalance is the highest among any nation in the world followed by Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia - all of which together comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC states are also what most South and Southeast Asians refer to as the Persian Gulf especially in context of emigration.

UAE has one of the most diverse populations in the Middle East. 19% of the population is Emirati, and 23% is other Arabs and Iranians. An estimated 73.9 percent of the population is comprised of non-citizens, one of the world's highest percentages of foreign-born in any nation. In addition, since the mid-1980s, people from all across South Asia have settled in the UAE. The high living standards and economic opportunities in the UAE are better than almost anywhere else in the Middle East and South Asia. This makes the nation an attractive destination for Indians, Filipinos, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis along with a few thousand Sri Lankans. In 2006, there were approximately 2.15 million Indian nationals, Filipino nationals—OFW, Bangladeshi nationals, and Pakistani nationals in the UAE, making them the largest expatriate community in the oil-rich nation. Persons from over twenty Arab nationalities, including thousands of Palestinians who came as either political refugees or migrant workers, also live in the United Arab Emirates. There is also a sizable number of Emiratis from other Arab League nations who have come before the formation of the Emirates such as Egyptians, Somalis, Sudanese and other Gulf Arab states, who have adopted the native culture and customs. Further, Somali immigration also continued in the 1990s as a result of the Somali civil war.

There are also residents from other parts of the Middle East, Baluchistan region of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, Post-Soviet states, and North America. The UAE has attracted a small number of very affluent expatriates (Americans, British, Canadians, Japanese and Australians) from developed countries. Recent migrants from India are also quite affluent. They are attracted to a very warm climate, scenic views (beaches, golf courses, man-made islands and lucrative housing tracts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai), the nation's comparably low cost of living (but in 2006, thousands of real estate properties are valued over millions of dollars) and tax-free incentives for their business or residency in the UAE. They make up under -five percent of the UAE population; mainly English-speaking. Expatriates abide by the law and are required to respect the customs of the UAE.

The most populated city is Dubai, with approximately 1.6 million people. Other major cities include Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Sharjah, and Fujairah. About 88% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is urban. The remaining inhabitants live in tiny towns scattered throughout the country or in one of the many desert oilfield camps in the nation.

Economy
The United Arab Emirates has a rapidly growing economy with a high GDP per capita and energy consumption per capita.

The GDP per capita is currently the 14th in the world and 3rd 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; while at $168 billion in 2006, with a small population of 4 million, the GDP of the UAE ranks second in the CCASG (after Saudi Arabia), third in the Middle East — North Africa (MENA) region (after Saudi Arabia and Iran), and 38th in the world (ahead of Malaysia).

There are various deviating estimates regarding the actual growth rate of the nation’s GDP. However, all available statistics indicate that the UAE currently has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to a recent report by the Ministry of Finance and Industry, real GDP rose by 35 percent in 2006 to $175 billion, compared with $130 billion in 2005. These figures would suggest that the UAE had the fastest growing real GDP in the world, between 2005 and 2006.

Although the United Arab Emirates is becoming less dependent on natural resources as a source of revenue, petroleum and natural gas exports still play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. 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. Such projects include the Burj Dubai, which is slated to become the world's tallest building, Dubai World Central International Airport which, when completed, will be the most expensive airport ever built, and the three Palm Islands, the largest artificial islands in the world. Other projects include the Dubai Mall which will become the world's largest shopping mall when completed, and a man-made archipelago called The World which seeks to increase Dubai's rapidly growing tourism industry.


The Iconic Burj Dubai and Business Bay. DUBAI

Also in the entertainment sector is the construction of Dubailand, which is expected to be twice the size of Disney World, and of Dubai Sports City which will not only provide homes for local sports teams but may be part of future Olympic bids.

The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the Emirati Dirham.

Religion
Islam is the largest religion in the United Arab Emirates with approximately 76.5% of the population adhering to Islam. It is a number which has been condensed by large scale immigration from the West and South East Asia. There are now significant Christian and Hindu populations present in the country.

Christians are the next biggest population after Muslims most of which adhere to Roman Catholicism, they are mainly represented by Fillipino, Indian, Lebanese and European migrant workers. There are approximately 31 Churches throughout the country. Hinduism is also present in the country through immigration from South East Asia. There is one Hindu temple.

The UAE provides for freedom of religion and this is something which is largely respected and employed. However non-Islamic proselytizing is considered illegal. Prisoners who convert to Islam and can recite verses from the Quran can at times have sentences reduced.

Education
The education system through secondary level is monitored by the Ministry of Education. It consists of primary schools, middle schools and secondary schools. The public schools are government-funded and the curriculum is created to match the United Arab Emirates development's goals and values. The medium of instruction in the public school is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language. There are also many private schools which are internationally accredited. Public schools in the country are free for citizens of the UAE, while the fees for private schools vary.

The higher education system is monitored by the Ministry of Higher Education to serve and protect children's education. The Ministry also is responsible for admitting students to its undergraduate institutions, including the five largest centers of higher education: United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, Gulf Medical College and Higher Colleges of Technology. There are also many other private universities and colleges in the country, including the University of Sharjah, American University of Sharjah, Institute of Management Technology Dubai, S.P Jain Center of Management in Dubai, Al Ain University of Science and Technology, the American University of Dubai, Abu Dhabi University and Ras Al Khamiah University for medical and health sciences.

Finally, other universities based in foreign countries have established campuses in the United Arab Emirates. For instance, there is a Paris-Sorbonne campus in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has shown a strong interest in improving education and research. Enterprises include the establishment of the CERT Research Centers and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

Transportation
Dubai has a public transport agency called the Dubai Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA). This authority is responsible for the bus network currently in operation. Recently, the RTA purchased 300 buses from Germany's MAN AG in an effort to reduce the city's growing traffic problem. RTA is also developing the Dubai Metro system. The first line (Red Line) is expected to be completed by September 2009. The yellow lines, currently in development, will go through the man-made Palm Islands.

Lately, the Emirate of Dubai created a new electronic toll collection system in July 2007, which emphasizes the system’s congestion management objectives as well as the choice of technology for the toll system. The new system, which is called Salik (meaning clear and smooth in Arabic) utilizes the latest technology to achieve free flow operation with no toll booths, no toll collectors, and no impact to traffic flow, allowing vehicles to move freely through the toll point at highway speeds. Each time one passes through a Salik toll point, the toll of AED 4 (1.09 USD) is deducted from his or her prepaid toll account using advanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. The new system was implemented by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai.

Airlines
The national airline of Abu Dhabi was formerly Gulf Air, operated jointly with Bahrain and Oman. On September 13, 2005, Abu Dhabi announced that it was withdrawing from Gulf Air to concentrate on Etihad Airways, designated as the new national carrier of the UAE, established in November 2003.

In 1985, Dubai established its airline Emirates, which, as of 2007, is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.  With over 100 planes and the biggest order for the new airbus A380, Emirates covers a vast network worldwide with more than 7 daily flights to the UK.


Emirates new A380 flies by the famous Burj Al Arab

Air Arabia, a leading discount airline in the Persian Gulf region, is based in the Emirate of Sharjah.

RAK Airways is the fourth national airways of the United Arab Emirates, was established in February 2006, is based in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Ports and harbours

The United Arab Emirates has several major ports, including one of the world's largest, Jebel Ali Port. Other important ports in the UAE include Port Zayed, Khalifa Port, Port Rashid, Port Khalid, Hamriyah Port, Port of Ajman, Saqr Port, Um Al Quwain, Khor Fhakan and Fujairah Port.

Technology, media and telecommunications

Media
Media is one of the first industries that the emirate of Dubai has sought to develop through a number of micro-cities. Dubai Media City has helped to make Dubai the media hub for the region, encompassing both the creation of media, from print through television and new media, and the advertising and marketing industry.

A number of international news organizations, including Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Press, Bloomberg, Dow Jones Newswires, CNN and the BBC, all have a presence in Dubai Media City, and enjoy complete freedom to report on local and regional events.

The leading English-language newspapers based in the UAE are:

The National

Gulf News, the highest circulating broadsheet

7DAYS, the highest circulating tabloid

Khaleej Times, the second-highest circulating broadsheet

Emirates Business 24|7, the UAE's first and only business newspaper

Xpress, a tabloid published every Thursday, by Gulf News

From late 2007, the international editions of The Times of London and its sister paper The Sunday Times will be printed in Dubai for local distribution.

Internet
UAE has 2.3 million internet users.

Internet access is often filtered over the local proxy server of the telecommunication company Etisalat. Etisalat blocks access to sites it deems controversial. All websites of Israeli origin — ending with .il — are blocked in UAE. VoIP is blocked, however officials have never released a clear statement concerning the reason for this. The only statement released is that the UAE has no regulation for VoIP and only the local telecommunication companies are allowed to use this technology.

The relative cost of broadband services in the U.A.E compared to Europe is high, for example a 2 Mbit/s connection costs AED349 (95 USD) per month from Etisalat or Du.

Sports
New sports are becoming popular alongside traditional camel racing. Examples include golf, with two European Tour events in the country (the Dubai Desert Classic and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship) and the world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, held annually in March.



Emirates Golf Club - Host of the Dubai Desert Classic

Aside from the international circuit events, the UAE has a healthy indigenous sporting environment with the local community participating in a wide variety of clubs and establishments. The seven emirates regularly compete in national leagues and cups in a multiplicity of sports that are controlled by specialized governing bodies.

The country itself is a prime location for sporting events. The high quality sporting venues (both indoor and outdoor), in addition to the climate, ensure the continuation of activities throughout the winter season. Construction of Dubai Sports City is underway to take advantage of these benefits, and to establish the country as a hub for sports throughout the world.

The UAE has a huge interest in football. The United Arab Emirates Football Association was first established in 1971 and since then has dedicated its time and effort to promoting the game, organising youth programmes and improving the abilities of not only its players, but of the officials and coaches involved with its regional teams. The U.A.E. football team qualified for the World Cup in 1990 - with Egypt it was the third consecutive World Cup with two Arab nations qualifying after Kuwait and Algeria in 1982 and Iraq and Algeria again in 1986.

The UAE National Team won the 2005 Kirin Cup, sharing the cup with Peru after a 1-0 victory over host country Japan.

The UAE team played a four-team friendly in Switzerland in July 2005, in which they beat both Qatar and Kuwait but lost 5–4 on penalties in the final against Egypt.

In 2003 the UAE was the host nation of the FIFA U-20 World Cup between November and December 2003.

In April, Dubai Holding agreed to provide the national team with Dh20 million (US$5.45 million) sponsorship money over the next four years. The fund will also go towards developing the sport.

The UAE also recently won the Gulf Cup soccer championship held in Abu Dhabi January 2007.

The UAE are currently ranked 110th in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings.

A Dubai consortium known as DIC (Dubai International Capital) is also interested in buying the English Premier League club, Liverpool F.C.

The UAE under 16 football team qualified for the 2009 Youth world cup which will be held in Nigeria. The UAE under 19 football team was also qualified for the World Youth Cup finals to be held in Egypt next year.

Tennis
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (part of the ATP International Series Gold at the Aviation Club, Dubai) was bigger than ever in 2000 with no less than six of the top-seeded women’s players taking centre court, a first time appearance by tennis’ golden boy, Andre Agassi, and the return of the celebrated Roger Federer, who was seeking his third title crown, resulting in some dramatic court action. In an unprecedented move, Dubai Duty Free, organisers of the championship, decided to switch the men’s tournament to the first week of the competition so that it ran from 21 to February 27 and the women’s was played from February 28 to March 5.

Cricket
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the UAE, largely due to the expatriate population from the Indian subcontinent. Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah has hosted 4 international Test matches so far. Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Al Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi also host international cricket. Dubai has two cricket stadiums (Dubai Cricket Ground No.1 and No.2) with a third, 'S3' currently under construction as part of Dubai Sports City. Dubai is also home to the International Cricket Council.

The United Arab Emirates national cricket team qualified for the 1996 Cricket World Cup and narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Camel racing
The inhabitants of the Persian Gulf states have enjoyed camel racing for many years as it is considered a traditional sport. Formalizing camel racing was one way of maintaining its central role in UAE life. In the past, UAE had a reputation for exploiting South Asians as jockeys. However, robot jockeys are now used after strict government regulations were passed prohibiting underage jockeys from racing.

The UAE now has no fewer than 15 race tracks across the seven emirates. Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, 10 kilometers outside of Dubai, Al Wathba, 30 kilometers south-east of Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain track, which is 20 kilometers west of Al Ain, are all large, well-equipped camel tracks with high-tech facilities. Two smaller tracks are located in Sharjah, one in Ra’s al-Khaimah and one in Umm al-Qaiwain. Others are spread throughout the desert areas.

F1
In February 2007 it was announced that Bernie Ecclestone had signed a seven year deal with Abu Dhabi, to host a Formula 1 race there from the 2009 season. The 5.6 km circuit is to be set on Yas Island and it will include street and marina sections similar to Monaco's course.

Rugby Sevens
U.A.E. hosts Dubai Sevens round of the IRB Sevens World Series. Previously this was held at Dubai Exiles Rugby Ground, but from 2008 onwards it has been held at the new stadium The Sevens on the Dubai-Al Ain road.

Falconry
The U.A.E. is well-known for its falconry as it is also considered a traditional sport. Many of UAE's rulers were enthusiasts in falconry as the nation imports falcons from all across the globe.

Endurance riding
Endurance riding and racing is a national sport in the UAE. It involves long distance races on horse back. UAE patriot Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a premiere endurance rider. The UAE claim to be the global leaders of the sport and are campaigning for it to be in the olympics. At the top level, horses cover 160km in a day.

Useful Links

News
Gulf News (Biggest Daily Newspaper)
7 Days (Hard Hitting News Tabloid)
The National (Daily Tabloid)
Arabian Business (Business News)
AME Info (Business News)

Accommodation
Emaar
Aldar Properties
Nakheel
Sorouh
Golden Sands
Better Homes
Asteco Properties
Dubai Properties
Dubizzle (Property for rent)

Cars
4x4 Motors
Dubizzle (General Classified)

Sports & Leisure
The Dubai Mall
Mall of the Emirates
Wafi City
Dubai Golf

Playing
Time Out (Social News)
Mumtazz (Nightlife)
Cinestar Cinemas
Ski Dubai
Dubai Autodrome (Motorsports & Go-Karting)
Arabian Adventures (Wadi Bashing, Sand Surfing, Camel Riding)

Working
Dubai Internet City
Dubai Media City
Knowledge Village
Dubai International Financial Centre

General
Abu Dhabi City Guide
Dubai City Guide
Dubizzle
Emirates Airlines
Etihad Airlines
Etisalat (Telecom Provider)
Du (Telecome Provider)

Annual Events
Dubai World Cup (World's Richest Horse Race)
Dubai Desert Classic (PGA European Tour Event)
Dubai Shopping Festival (The World's Biggest Shopping Festival)
Dubai Tennis Championships
Dubai Rugby 7's