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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was formed as a federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain), which came together as one state on the 2nd of December 1971.

The federal capital of UAE is Abu Dhabi and it is ruled by the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan. The Vice-President and Prime Minister is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai.


Originally the area was inhabited by a seafaring people in the 7th century. Later, a dissident sect established a powerful sheikdom, and its army conquered Mecca. After the sheikdom disintegrated, its people became pirates threatening the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman in the early 19th century, the pirates provoked the intervention of the British, who in 1820 enforced a partial truce and in 1853 a permanent truce. Thus what had been called the Pirate Coast was renamed the Trucial Coast. The British provided the Trucial states with protection but did not formally administer them as a colony.

The British withdrew from the Persian Gulf and in December 2, 1971 which now celebrated as the annual National Day, the Trucial states became a federation called the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The federation formed by seven emirates known as the Trucial States—Abu Dhabi (the largest), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, became the first President of the UAE. After he passed away in 2004, he was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE. In Jan. 2006, Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and the emir of Dubai, died. Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum assumed both roles. In addition to a federal president and prime minister, each emirate has a separate ruler who oversees the local government.

This unity of the emirates led to an era of security and shared prosperity across the region that had been revolutionized with the discovery of oil and gas in 1958. With the revenue from these, the infrastructure and social services have been dramatically improved and are now amongst the best in the world.


The UAE has an area of 83,600 square kilometres, and 1318 kilometres of coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, extends along part of the Gulf of Oman and the southern coast of the Persian Gulf. The Hajjar Mountains form a backbone down the east of the country with the rest of the landscape comprising sandy beaches, salt flats, gravel plains and vast areas of desert dunes. Its neighbours are Saudi Arabia to the west and south, Qatar to the north, and Oman to the east. Most of the land is barren and sandy.


The most pleasant time to visit is during the cooler months from November to March when temperatures average around 24C during the day and 13C at night. What little rainfall there is tends to fall during this period. April to October summer temperatures can soar to around 45C making a refreshing dip in the sea even more inviting.

In the summer there is also high humidity but air conditioning helps to soften the impact. Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year.


The population of the UAE has considerably increased over the last few decades and it stands at over four million, many of whom are expatriate residents who live and work in the country.


You don't need a visa if you will stay in the UAE for only 48 hours, however if you are willing to spend more time the following nationalities do not require a visa to the UAE, they can obtain a visa on arrival for 30 days.

  • America: USA, Canada.
  • Europe: United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, Vatican City, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein.
  • Asia: Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong-Kong, South Korea.
  • Oceania: Australia, New Zealand.

Other nationalities not mentioned above require Visa before arrival.


Arabic is the official language but English is widely spoken, especially in hotels and shops.

Time zone: GMT +4 Hours.

Business Hours

Friday and Saturday is the weekend. Government offices start work at 7.30am and finish at 1 or 1.30pm from Sunday to Thursday.

Shopping Hours

Daily 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Lunch break in some areas is 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


The United Arab Emirates currency is called the Dirham. The United Arab Emirates Dirham (Dhs or AED) 100 Fils = 1 Dirhams. Bank notes of Dhs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 are in circulation and have English and Arabic numerals.

Night Clubs and Pubs

Nightclubs in Dubai are unique, they are a mixture of Arabic, western, and Indian clubs. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are usually alive with music until 3 to 4am. Spirits and all major drinks are available in Dubai's pubs until 1 or 2am.


At the airport public telephone cabins are available for local calls free of charge within Dubai. As the coin phones have been replaced with contemporary card phones, top up cards can be obtained from any sundry shop, supermarket or petrol station. Etisalat is the most popular GSM Company with a qualified telecommunication system. Etisalat mobile numbers begin with 050 in the UAE. Often people will give their seven digit number without mentioning this prefix.

To phone to a land line you need to dial the two digit area code the you enter the land line no.

To phone out from the UAE, dial 00 followed by the country code. If you want to call the UAE, the country code 971. The area code for Dubai is 04 and mobile phones 50, though if you are calling from outside the UAE you just dial 4. The following is a list of area codes of the major cities in the UAE:

Dubai 04
Abu Dhabi 02
Sharjah/ Umm Al-Quwain 06
Al-Ain 03
Fujairah 09
Ras Al-Khaimah 07

Travel Tips

  • While taking pictures, you may take permission politely from the concerned people before you shot. Military facilities must not be photographed at all.
  • Alcohol is legal in the UAE, but you should avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol you will be charged a fine to pay and you may spend a month or more in jail.
  • People of the UAE do not use the term thank you as much as in the western cultures. This is because a person is expected to repay major favours by actions words alone are insufficient.
  • Women should wear loose-fitting clothing that is not revealing. Even if you see exposed midriff, short skirts and tight pants, you should still consider the impression you are making. Bathing suites are suitable at the beach, however women may prefer to cover up more at public beaches to avoid men's gazes.
  • If you are willing to rent a car and hang around the city, remember that traffic congestion is a serious problem during the peak hours, i.e. three times a day, 7 - 9am, 1 - 2pm, and 6pm onwards, this is because many people prefer to go out after the sun sets to enjoy the attractive night atmosphere.
  • Men should avoid being bare-chested in public, unless if at the beach or at the swimming pool.
  • Since a service charge is added to your bill tips are not usually given to restaurants, not to the waiters, however if you are willing to give a tip it is ok.