United Arab Emirates Overview
||Abu Dhabi (city)
|Form of government
||federal federation of seven emirates
||CET + 3, UTC + 4
|Telephone area code
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federal federation
of seven sheikdoms, is located in the southeast of the
Arabian Peninsula. With an area of around 82.880 km²,
the UAE is about the size of Austria. In the north, the
country borders the Persian Gulf for a length of about
600 km, in the east on the Ruus Al Djibal peninsula with
Oman, in the south and west with Saudi Arabia.
Over two thirds of the country is occupied by the
foothills of the Great Arab Desert (Ar Rub al Khali),
which is mostly located in Saudi Arabia. The desert
constantly threatens to expand towards the north due to
traveling dunes. Large plants are used to prevent this.
Between the desert and the coast there is an
approximately 15 km wide salt marsh plain with salt clay
pans. The coast of the Persian Gulf is preceded by
numerous islands, coral reefs and sandbars, which makes
the water extremely difficult to navigate.
In the northeast, the UAE shares in the Ruus Al
Djibal peninsula, a headland between the Persian Gulf
and the Gulf of Oman. Before its northern end (which is
on the territory of Oman) is the Strait of Hormuz. The
eastern part of the peninsula is occupied by the
foothills of the Oman Mountains, here is the UAE's
highest peak, the Jabal Yibir at 1,527 m.
The capital Abu Dhabi is located on the coast of the
The climate in the UAE is characterized by drought
and high temperatures. In the summer month of July, an
average of 30 ¡ã C is measured in the capital Abu Dhabi,
and air temperatures of up to 43 ¡ã C can be reached. The
average temperature in January is around 18 ¡ã C. The
average rainfall is around 100 mm annually, often the
rain evaporates before it reaches the ground. Most
precipitation falls in the winter months from December
Flora and fauna
The vegetation in the UAE is extremely sparse. The
desert areas are almost without vegetation, in the oases
there are date palms and eucalyptus species. The
original vegetation of the coastal plain had to give way
to intensive agricultural use. In order to prevent the
penetration of the Great Arabian Desert, large-scale
plantings were carried out in the front belt of dunes.
The animal world is also poor in species. Only a few
animals, such as lizards and gerbils, which are
extremely well adapted to the drought, find a suitable
habitat here. The abundance of fish in coastal waters
has declined sharply due to water pollution.
A good 4 million people live in the UAE, with over
three quarters of the population being migrant workers
and not full citizens of the Federation. Most foreigners
come from Egypt, Yemen, Palestine, India, Iran,
Bangladesh and Pakistan. Only around 1% of the country's
area is populated, and the degree of urbanization is
correspondingly high (approx. 87%). The UAE's two
largest cities are Dubai with just under 1.3 million
residents and the capital Abu Dhabi with around 585,000
Arabs make up about 87% of the population, about 5 to
10% of them live as nomads. The second largest
population group are Pakistanis and Indians with around
9%. 96% of the population are followers of Islam, the
majority of them Sunnis, only around 16% are Shiites.
Christians and Hindus are religious minorities. Arabic
is the official language, English is used as the
commercial language, Persian, Indian and Urdu are also
common among the minorities.
Due to the influx of migrant workers, population
growth is 3.5%, only part of which is due to natural
growth. The average life expectancy is 75 years. Due to
the country's richness in oil and the state support for
the population based on it, the standard of living is
very high. Social and health services are well
developed, but do not cover the nomadic Bedouins living
in the country. Citizens are entitled to free housing,
electricity, water and pensions. School attendance is
free, children between the ages of six and twelve are
required to attend school. According to COUNTRYAAH,
the literacy rate is 78%.
The United Arab Emirates is a federal federation of
seven emirates: Abu Dhabi (Abu Zaby), Dubai (Dubayy),
Sharjah (Ash Shariqah), Ajman (Ajman), Fujairah (Al
Fujairah), Umm al-Quaiwan and Ras al-Khaimah. In 1971
the Federation proclaimed independence from Britain (Ras
al-Khaimah joined only a year later); the actually
provisional constitution dates from this year and was
laid down in 1996 as the final constitution.
The head of state is the President (since November
2004 the Emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al
Nahayan). He is one of the seven sheikhs of the Emirates
who sit on the "Supreme Council of Rulers" and elect the
president from among their own ranks. The largest and
richest emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have a veto right
in the Supreme Council. The Emir of Dubai is
traditionally Vice President and Prime Minister
(Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum since January 2006). The
National Council (Majlis al Ittihad al Watani) has 40
members, half of which are appointed by the Emirates
every two years; the second half is chosen by a cross
section of the population chosen by the Emirates. There
are no political parties or unions in the UAE.
The state religion is Islam. The United Arab Emirates
have a dual legal system based on secular and Islamic
law (Sharia law).
The United Arab Emirates have around 10% of the
proven oil reserves worldwide. The oil sector (crude oil
and natural gas) is the most important area of the
economy, the export of raw materials and the products
made from them make up around 80% of the export volume.
To make the economy independent of oil revenues in the
long term, the UAE is pursuing a course of economic
diversification. In recent years, the government has
invested in job creation and improved infrastructure,
and has increasingly allowed private investments.
Only just under 3% of the state area can be used for
agriculture. Fruit and vegetables are mainly grown.
Livestock farming and fishing contribute to meeting the
food needs of the population. The keeping of cattle is
still partly carried out by nomadic Bedouins.
Key sectors in the service sector (42% of gross
domestic product, GDP) are logistics, trade, trade
fairs, tourism and financial services.
Industry generates 57% of GDP. The most important are
petrochemical and chemical companies. In order to reduce
the dependency on oil as a raw material, other areas are
massively promoted by the political leadership, for
example metal production and processing. Aviation is
also of great importance, as it accounts for almost a
fifth of economic output in the UAE.
The main export partners are located in Asia (Japan,
South Korea and Thailand). The United States, China,
India and Japan are the main suppliers of goods
(machinery, vehicles, chemicals, food).
The UAE has a very well developed road network
between the major cities. There is no railway network,
but the first railway lines are under construction. The
country has eight international airports. Significant
ports are Port Rashid and Jabal Ali.
The currency is the dirham (= 100 fils).