The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates. Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE. The UAE is a politically and economically stable country and holds the 25th position globally in Global Competitiveness Report 2019 by World Economic Forum. The country’s soft policy earned the UAE, first rank in Passport Index. In addition, it stands out as one of the 10 largest donor states in official development aid (ODA). Recognised as a tolerant country, the UAE hosts more than 200 nationalities doing business, living, learning and touring the UAE. Residents enjoy freedom of civil rights and practice of religion. Learn more facts about the UAE.
Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE Federation.
The late H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the first President of the UAE and is known as the Father of the Nation. He served this position since the formation of the UAE on 2 December 1971 until he passed away in 2004.
H. H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the current President of the UAE. He took this position in 2022. He is also the Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates. The Constitution of the UAE provides for five federal authorities. They are:
The Supreme Council
The President and the Vice-President
The Federal National Council
The Federal Judiciary
The UAE follows a moderate foreign policy that reinforces balanced relationships with the international community. It adheres to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and the pursuit of dialogue, and whenever possible peaceful resolution of disputes, together with support for international institutions, such as the United Nations. The UAE is a leading player in the global campaign against human trafficking, terrorism and in maintaining human rights.
The UAE supports developmental, humanitarian and charitable programmes in a number of developing countries. In 2018, the assistance reached AED 28.62 billion (USD 7.79 billion). In terms of official development assistance (ODA), since 2012, the UAE has contributed in excess of 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income, a target set by the United Nations for all countries. In 2018, the UAE contributed 0.93 per cent of its GNI. Read the UAE’s annual foreign aid reports.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic. Positioned as a global commercial hub and top tourist destination, English is widely spoken. All road and traffic signs and signs on commercial outlets are in Arabic and English.
Islam is the official religion in the UAE; practice of other religions is allowed. Besides mosques, the UAE is also home to several churches and temples where worshipers practise their religions in an atmosphere of safety, security and mutual respect.
The UAE is located in Asia. It is located in the southeastern region of the Asian continent, and in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. It overlooks the Arabian Gulf on the north and northwest, borders the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and south and the Sultanate of Oman to the southeast.
The UAE territory is approximately 71,023.6sq km of land, including some islands in the Arab Gulf, in addition to 27,624.9sq km of territorial water. Abu Dhabi accounts for 84 per cent of the country's total landmass.
The UAE is situated at:
Longitude: 51° 35’ - 57°10’ east
Latitude: 22°35’ - 26°25’ north
The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT.
The UAE maintains a desert climate. It is warm, sunny in the winter, hot, and humid during the summer.
The Emirati Dirham is the official currency of the UAE, abbreviated officially as AED. Unofficial abbreviations include Dh and Dhs.
The dirham is divided into 100 fils.
Coins are in the following denominations: AED 1, 50 fils and 25 fils.
Notes or bills exist in the denominations of AED 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.
Since February 2002, the Arab Emirati Dirham (AED) is pegged to the US dollar (USD) at the rate of 1 USD = AED 3.6725.
The flag comprises three equal horizontal lines with green at the top, white in the middle and black at the base. There is also a wider vertical red ribbon in the direction of the flagpole.
Green represents hope, joy, optimism and love. It can also symbolise the country's prosperity.
White represents peace and honesty. White is the purest colour, interpreted by some to symbolise cleanliness.
Black stands for the defeat of enemies and strength of mind.
Red represents hardiness, bravery, strength and courage. The vertical red band can also be interpreted as binding all the other meanings together in unity.
Coat of arms
The UAE's new coat of arms displays the UAE flag surrounded by seven stars, representing the seven emirates. The falcon is also shown holding a parchment in its talons which reads 'United Arab Emirates' in Arabic.
UAE Nation Brand
In 2020, the UAE adopted the ‘7 Lines’ design as its logo for the next 50 years. The logo represents the seven emirates and the seven founding fathers, and complements the slogan ‘Make it Happen’. This logo is to represent the UAE in all its initiatives and events and convey its story to the world.
The UAE's national anthem, Ishy Bilady was originally conceived as an instrumental in 1971. In 1986, Dr. Aref Al Sheikh was given the task to write the words to the UAE's national anthem, and the Cabinet approved the lyrics.
Diplomatic missions in the world
Diplomatic and Consular Corps abroad
The UAE's embassies
Foreign representation in the UAE
Nearly 100 foreign embassies are located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and Dubai is home to almost 80 consulates. Consulates are found in major cities outside of a country’s capital and handle minor diplomatic matters like issuing visas. Embassies and consulates are usually open Sunday to Thursday (the UAE work-week) and are closed on Fridays, on all UAE public holidays, and the public holiday of the embassy's home country. Opening times vary depending on embassy and purpose of visit. So arrive early or book an appointment as most operate some sort of queuing system, especially for visa applications.
Diplomatic and Consular Corps in the UAE
All UAE citizens in the seven emirates carry the unified nationality of the UAE, which is recognised internationally. The demonym is Emirati.
Since December 2018, the UAE passport holds the first position globally according to Arton Capital's Passport Index. As of 1 January 2020, a UAE passport holder can
travel easily to 179 countries around the world; 118 destinations offer visa-free travel and 61 offer eVisa or visa on arrival at the airport.
According to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, the UAE's total population (nationals and expatriate residents) was 9,304,277 in 2017, as compared to 9,121,167 in 2016. Males outnumber females.
There were 6,415,942 males in 2017, as compared to 6,298,294 in 2016.
There were 2,888,335 females in 2017, as compared to 2,822,873 in 2016.
There are more than 200 nationalities living and working in the UAE. The expatriate community outnumbers the population of UAE nationals.
Indians form the largest foreign community in the UAE, followed by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, other Asians, Europeans and Africans.
UAE nationals as of 2010 (estimate)
Total UAE nationals: 947,997
Non-nationals in the UAE as of 2010 (estimate)
Total non-nationals: 7,316,073
Male non-nationals: 5,682,711
Female non-nationals: 1,633,362
The literacy rate in the UAE is close to 95 per cent.
According to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, here are the figures for births in 2017:
Total births: 97,738
According to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, here are the figures for deaths in 2017:
Total deaths: 8,826
According to Human Development Report (PDF, 300 KB), issued by the UNDP in 2019, life expectancy in the UAE is 77.8 years.
Prior to the construction of 'Dubai Palms' and other schemes, the coastline of the UAE was approximately 1,318 kilometres. Land reclamation projects are extending this figure.
The country's lowest point is at sea level and its highest point is Jebel Jais at 1,934 metres.
According to Annual Economic Report 2019 (PDF, 18.5 MB), GDP at constant prices was AED 1,442.5 billion, while GDP at current prices was AED 1,521.1 billion in 2018.
Imports and exports
The non-oil foreign trade (direct trade and free zones) amounted to 1.536 trillion dirhams during 2018. The breakup is as follows:
Imports: 898.5 billion dirham
Non-oil exports: 206 billion dirham
Re-exports: 431.55 billion dirham.
Source: Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority
1 January to 31 December
The UAE Cabinet approved a zero-deficit federal budget of AED 61.354 billion for the year 2020. This is the largest budget allocated since the establishment of the UAE. The budget is distributed amongst various sectors related to Emirati citizens and their services. 31% is allocated to social development, 14% to infrastructure and economic resources, 6.5% to social benefits, and 32.6% to government affairs.
The UAE's inflation rate was 3.1 per cent in 2018.
Consumer price index
As of November 2019, the UAE's consumer price index reached 108.48.
The UAE does not levy income tax on individuals. However, oil companies and branches of foreign banks are liable to pay taxes. In addition, the UAE levies 5 per cent Value Added Tax on the consumption or use of goods and services.
Natural resources and energy
Oil and gas
The UAE holds 6.7% of the world's proven oil reserves estimated at 97.8 billion barrels and 3.5% of proven gas reserves, equal to 6091 billion cubic metres.
Source: Annual Statistical Report 2018- OAPEC
The UAE is ranked as the 6th largest proved reserves of both oil and natural gas globally.
Source: WAM (Arabic)
Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 AMPs plugs of British standard design are the norm. Appliances have two-pin plugs attached.
In 2017, the total installed capacity of electricity in the UAE reached 30371 megawatts (MW), which utilises natural gas.
Source: Ministry of Energy and Industry
The installed capacity for desalinated and groundwater reached 1,658 million imperial gallons per day, while the production of desalinated water was 435,387 million imperial gallons per year as of 2017.
Source: Ministry of Energy and Industry
Tap water produced by desalination is safe to drink; however, bottled water is preferred by most residents and tourists and priced reasonably in general.
In 2017 installed capacity of renewable energy plants in the UAE amounted to 325 MW.
The UAE adopted a nuclear programme for production of electricity. Four reactors are being built at the nuclear power plant in Baraka in the Western Region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Upon the completion of this programme, a production capacity of up to 5600MW will be added to the national grid by 2020.
Government and semi-government offices operate from Sunday to Thursday.
Some private companies are closed only on Fridays while others are closed on both Fridays and Saturdays.
UAE National Day
It falls on 2 December and marks the UAE's formal nationalisation and the start of the federal unification of the emirates in 1971.
Commemoration Day falls on 1 December. It recognises the sacrifices and dedication of the sons of the nation, who have given their lives in the UAE and abroad in the field of civil, military and humanitarian service.
Other public holidays are:
Gregorian New Year
Eid Al Fitr
Arafah day and Eid Al Adha
Hijri New Year
The Prophet's Mohammed birthday
International dialling code: +971
The dialling codes for the emirates/cities are:
02 for the emirate of Abu Dhabi
03 for Al Ain city in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
04 for the emirate of Dubai
06 for the emirates of Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain
07 for the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
09 for the emirate of Fujairah and city of Khor Fakkan.
Telephones - fixed lines
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 2,328,781 fixed lines with an average of 26.2 lines per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 18,999,237 active mobile subscriptions with an average of 213.8 mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
The top-level domain is .ae.
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 3,016,318 broadband internet subscribers with an average of 33.94 broadband internet subscriptions per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
TV and radio
TV channels and radio stations are owned by government and private companies; both local and international.
Content is offered mainly in Arabic and English. Other languages of broadcast include Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tagalog and Farsi.
The number of TV and radio stations:
Emirates News Agency (WAM) is the official UAE news agency of the UAE Government. It publishes news in multiple languages.
Major airports in the UAE
Abu Dhabi International Airport (IATA code: AUH)
Al Ain International Airport (IATA code: AAN)
Dubai International Airport (IATA code: DXB)
Al Maktoum Airport (IATA code: DWC)
Sharjah International Airport (IATA code: SHJ)
Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (IATA code: RKT)
Fujairah International Airport (IATA code: FJR)
Motorists drive on the right hand side of the road.
The emirate of Dubai levies a toll (salik) of AED 4 when vehicles pass through the toll gates.
In Abu Dhabi, a toll of AED 4 is levied on every vehicle passing the toll gate during peak hours from 7 to 9 am and from 5 to 7 pm from Saturday to Thursday.
E11 - it is the longest road in the UAE. It stretches from Al Silah in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to the boundary of Ras Al Khaimah.
It has various alternate names: Sheikh Maktoum Road in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai and Etihad Road in Ras Al Khaimah.
E311 - it is also known as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. It starts from the emirate of Abu Dhabi and ends in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
E611 - also known as Emirates Road, it starts from the boundary of Umm Al Quwain and ends in the emirate of Fujairah.
The UAE has a number of flyovers and bridges, including the Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Floating Bridge, Business Bay Crossing, Al Qouz Bridge, Al Khail Bridge, Al Shindagha Tunnel, Al Mamzar Beach Bridge and the Dragon Mart Bridge, among others.
Dubai Tram is a transportation service in the emirate of Dubai that covers several key areas.
Taxis operate in the UAE. The colour of the taxi varies depending on the emirate. The cabs in Dubai are usually cream-coloured and in Abu Dhabi they are silver with white roofs. In Sharjah, they are also silver with a yellow roof. In other emirates, taxis are a mixture of orange, green, yellow, blue and even pink.
It is worth noting that "pink" taxis are driven by women and are available to transport female passengers only.
Water transport within the emirates
Every emirate has its own public bus network.
In Dubai, buses are operated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). In Abu Dhabi, the bus network is operated by the Department of Transport. The bus network is also developed in other emirates.
The Dubai Metro is a driverless, fully automated metro rail network in Dubai. The first line, which runs from Rashidiya to Jebel Ali, was inaugurated in September 2009. The second line, which runs from Al Ras to Jebel Ali, was inaugurated in September 2011.
It is the world's longest driverless metro network. It covers a total distance of 75km and is served by 49 stations.
The Red Line covers a distance of 52.1km and has 29 stations.
The Green Line, which was opened in 2011, is 22.5km long and serves 20 stations.
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and is located in Dubai. It is 828 metres tall and has 163 floors.
Other landmarks include the Palm Jumeirah, the Burj Al Arab, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Dubai Mall.
The UAE's culture is rooted in Arabian traditions and Islamic values. The family is of paramount importance and plays a central role in the social structure.
The UAE is home to a rich cultural heritage that has been influenced by various civilizations throughout history. The traditional arts, crafts, music, dance, and storytelling continue to be preserved and celebrated.
Arabic is the official language, and Islam is the official religion of the UAE. However, the country is very diverse, with a significant expatriate population, and you will find a blend of various cultures and languages in everyday life.
The UAE has a modest dress code, especially in public places. While there are no strict dress code regulations for tourists, it is respectful to dress modestly when visiting religious sites, markets, and other public areas. Both men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and women should cover their shoulders and knees. In more traditional areas, such as Sharjah, women are encouraged to cover their hair with a scarf.
The traditional clothing for Emirati men is the kandura, also known as a dishdasha or thobe, which is a long white robe. They typically wear a head covering called a ghutra or shemagh, held in place with a black cord known as an agal.
For Emirati women, the traditional clothing is the abaya, a long black cloak-like garment worn over their regular clothing. Some women also wear a face-covering called a niqab.
Emirati cuisine reflects the rich cultural heritage of the region and is influenced by Arabian, Persian, Indian, and African flavors. Traditional dishes often include rice, meat, and spices like saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. Camel meat is considered a delicacy in the UAE. Popular dishes include Al Harees, Machboos, and Luqaimat. The UAE is also known for its delicious dates and Arabic coffee (gahwa). In addition to traditional Emirati cuisine, you'll find a wide variety of international cuisines, reflecting the diverse expatriate community in the country.
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the UAE, and the country has a strong football culture. Other popular sports include cricket, tennis, rugby, and golf. The UAE has also become a major destination for international sports events, hosting events such as the Dubai Tennis Championships, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the Dubai World Cup (horse racing). Additionally, the UAE has invested heavily in sporting infrastructure and facilities, including world-class stadiums, golf courses, and sports arenas.
The United Arab Emirates is a vibrant and diverse country with a rich cultural heritage and a modern outlook. It offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation, making it a fascinating destination for visitors and a dynamic home for residents. Whether you are interested in exploring ancient heritage sites, enjoying modern architectural marvels, shopping in luxury malls, or experiencing thrilling adventures in the desert, the UAE has something to offer for everyone.
This guide provides an overview of various aspects of the UAE, but there is much more to discover and experience in this captivating nation.