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UAE Guide

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates 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.

The Country

The 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.


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 .


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


United Arab Emirates

The largest of the seven Emirates and the Federal capital of UAE. Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern cities in the world.


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.


United Arab Emirates

Dubai aims to be the business hub of Western Asia.It is also a major global transport hub for passengers and cargo.

Ruler: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The history of human settlement in the area now defined by the United Arab Emirates is rich and complex, and points to extensive trading links between the civilisations of the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia, but also as far afield as the Levant.Archaeological finds in the emirate of Dubai, particularly at Al-Ashoosh, Al Sufouh and the notably rich trove from Saruq Al Hadid show settlement through the Ubaid and Hafit periods, the Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq periods and the three Iron Ages in the UAE. The area was known to the Sumerians as Magan, and was a source for metallic goods, notably copper and bronze.

The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city's present coastline. Pre-Islamic ceramics have been found from the 3rd and 4th centuries. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the area, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar).After the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the eastern Islamic world invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) found several artefacts from the Umayyad period.

An early mention of Dubai is in 1095 in the Book of Geography by the Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri.[citation needed] The Venetian pearl merchant Gasparo Balbi visited the area in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) for its pearling industry.


United Arab Emirates

Ajman is the capital of the emirate of Ajman in the United Arab Emirates, located along the Persian Gulf.

Ruler: Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi

The foundation of Ajman under Nuaimi rule took place in 1816, when Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi and fifty of his followers took the coastal settlement of Ajman from members of the Al Bu Shamis tribe in a short conflict. It wasn't until 1816 or 1817, however, that the Ajman fort finally fell to Rashid's followers and his rule was endorsed by the powerful Sheikh of neighbouring Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi.

On 8 January 1820, following the sack of Ras Al Khaimah by a British force led by Sir W.G. Keir, Sultan bin Saqr signed the General Maritime Treaty with the United Kingdom on 4 February 1820, followed on 15 March by Rashid bin Humaid at Falaya Fort.

An 1822 British maritime survey noted that Ajman had one of the best backwaters on the coast and was a small town with a single fortified building, the ruler's house. In common with many other coastal towns on what became the Trucial Coast, the population was mobile depending on the season – there were as many as 1,400 to 1,700 men of the 'Mahamee' tribe living there during the pearl hunting season (April–September), many of whom would migrate to Al Buraimi in the date season. The survey notes that Ajman's ruler Rashid bin Ahmed considered his dominion independent of Emirate of Sharjah, but that Sharjah did not maintain that view even though it had no power over Ajman. The survey noted that the inhabitants of Ajman were 'mostly strict Wahhabis' and recorded the presence of the ruined village of Fasht down the shore from Ajman town, which is today the Fisht suburb of Sharjah city.


United Arab Emirates

Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, forming part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area.

Ruler: Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi

Sharjah was historically one of the wealthiest towns in this region with a settlement in existence for over 5000 years. In the early 18th century, the Qawasim clan (Huwayla tribe) established itself in Sharjah, c.1727 declaring Sharjah independent. On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Sultan I signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting a protectorate to keep the Ottoman Turks out. Like four of its neighbours, Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain, its position on the route to India made it important enough to be recognised as a salute state (be it of the lowest class: 3 guns).

By the turn of the 20th century, Sharjah extended inland to the area now known as Wasit Suburb, the area between the city and Dhaid being under the control of the tribes of the interior. With some 15,000 inhabitants, Sharjah had some 4 or 5 shops in Layyah and a bazaar of some 200 shops in Sharjah proper.

At the height of World War II, Nazi propaganda infiltrated the town. Loud transmissions of pro-Hitler speeches could be heard emanating from the Sheikh of Sharjah's palace during a period in 1940, and messages sharing a similar sentiment had been graffitied on walls in the town centre according to British intelligence reports at the time. Because the message being propagated by the Germans was one of anti-Imperialism, it found a sympathetic audience among the emirate's populace, particularly Abdullah bin Faris, a secretary of the Sheikh who was responsible for the broadcasts. After the Sheikh was confronted by the British, he wrote a letter reiterating his support for the British war efforts and disputed the charges laid out against bin Faris.


United Arab Emirates

Fujairah City is the capital of the emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, located on the Gulf of Oman.

Ruler: Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi

Fujairah, dominated by the Sharqiyin tribe, sits at the mouth of the important trade route, the Wadi Ham (which is guarded by the Sharqiyin fort at Bithnah), through the mountains to the interior and the Persian Gulf Coast. Known as the Shamaliyah, the east coast of what is now the UAE was subject to Muscat until 1850, when it was annexed by Al Qasimi of Sharjah, in an agreement made between Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi and the Sultan of Muscat. The Shamaliyah was governed by Al-Qasimi Wali at Kalba although frequently seceded and in 1901 Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Sharqi, chief of the Sharqiyin, declared independence from Sharjah.

In 1952, Fujairah entered into treaty relations with Britain, becoming the last of the emirates to join the Trucial States. Having withheld this recognition for over fifty years, the British government only granted it because the oil exploration company Petroleum Concessions Limited (PCL) needed to sign a concession with a recognized ruler. On 2 December 1971, Fujairah joined the United Arab Emirates.

Archaeological finds in the emirate of Fujairah point to a history of human occupation and trading links stretching back at least 4,000 years, with Wadi Suq (2,000 to 1,300 BCE) burials located at Bithnah and the Qidfa' Oasis. A third millennium BCE tower was used to construct the Portuguese fort at Bidiyah, identified with the Portuguese 'Libedia', a fortress recorded in de Resende's 1646 map - the fortress itself has been carbon dated to 1450–1670.


United Arab Emirates

Umm al-Quwain is the one of the smallest emirates in the United Arab Emirates. Umm al-Quwain city lies on the Arabian Gulf.

Ruler: Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla

Umm Al Quwain holds significant archaeological interest, with major finds at both Tell Abraq and Ed-Dur pointing to significant Ancient Near Eastern Cities. Arrowheads and other polished flint tools have been unearthed in various sites across the UAE while pieces of Ubaid Age pottery have been unearthed along the shores of the emirate. All evidence obtained so far indicate that contact with Mesopotamia existed as early as the 5th millennium BC, as an indigenous ceramic industry, did not emerge until the 3rd century BC.

Finds at both Tell Abraq and Ed-Dur show habitation in the area throughout the Bronze Age, from the Hafit period, through the Umm Al Nar period and the later Wadi Suq and Iron I, II and III ages. Finds also link Ed-Dur with the inland settlement of Mleiha, especially distinctive burials of animals with their heads turned back on their bodies. Significant trading links with both the Western Sumerian culture and the Eastern Indus Valley culture are displayed at these sites, with the semi-nomadic Magan people smelting bronze mined in the Hajar Mountains and then shipping the smelted ore.

Macedonian coinage unearthed at Ed-Dur dates back to Alexander the Great, while hundreds of coins have been found bearing the name of Abi'el. In March 2019, 15 tombs, bronze statues, settlement remains, jewellery and pottery, dating back to the 1st century CE, were unearthed here. It is thought Ed-Dur is the site of Omana, mentioned by both Pliny and Strabo as an important town in the Lower Persian Gulf.


United Arab Emirates

Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

Ruler: Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi

Ras Al Khaimah has been the site of continuous human habitation for 7,000 years, one of the few places in the country and the world where this is the case, and there are many historical and archaeological sites throughout the emirate - local sources cite 1,000 - dating from different time periods, including remnants of the Umm Al Nar Culture (3rd millennium BC) The area of Shimal contains both Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq burials and a number of notable finds, including one grave that contained no fewer than 18 fine bronze arrowheads.

There is considerable debate locally regarding the 18th-century charge of maritime piracy, attracting the British label 'The Pirate Coast' to the Eastern Gulf. Local interpretations of the dispute with the British were that the British became increasingly aggressive in protecting their trade but this resulted in interference in locals' livelihoods, so they naturally took exception to it. However, in the early 18th century, the Al Qasimi dynasty established itself in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah on the Arabian Peninsula, growing to become a significant maritime force with holdings on both the Persian and Arabian coasts that frequently came into conflict with British flagged shipping.

It was the Al Qasimi links to Persia that drew them to the attention of Ahmed bin Said, the Ruler of Muscat, who had wrested control of the coast and interior of Oman back from the Persian forces who had taken it under Nadir Shah and Mirza Taki Khan, the governor of Shiraz. Ahmed bin Said threw 12,000 men under the command of Kandhala bin Saif Al Suwaidi in an attack on Ras Al Khaimah which was met at Buraimi by 14,000 men of the Al Qasimi and Na'im.

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