UAE is a rapidly diversifying society that has successfully integrated its core Islamic values into its ambitious economic agenda. The country’s impressive economic performance sent the gross domestic product (GDP) rising to 29.32% in 2006 at current prices, reaching about $168.5 billion. This economic prosperity, coupled with a liberal business and social environment, ensures that people from nearly every country in the world will continue to come here to live, work and play.
UAE lies on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and west and the Sultanate of Oman to the southeast, while Qatar lies to the northwest. The country’s total land area is about 83,600 square kilometers, where over 80% is occupied by the emirate of Abu Dhabi. UAE’s population of 4.43 million as of 2006 comprises roughly 20 percent Emirati nationals with the rest accounted for mostly by Asian, African and European nationals. The emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai comprise over two-thirds (67%) of the country’s total population. The population ratio is also significantly skewed towards the urban zones, which host 82% of the country’s residents.
Endowed with rich natural resources, UAE’s economy is dominated by oil exports although a growing diversification in the country’s economy has been evident in recent years. As of 2005, oil and natural gas production accounted for about 36% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). UAE has about 8%, or 98.7 billion barrels, of the world’s proven oil reserves and hosts the fifth largest natural gas reserves in the world. Currently the country operates on its maximum oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day.
The country’s extraordinary GDP growth has been driven primarily by the galloping oil prices in the international market, as well as the increasing traction of public joint stock companies and investments in the country’s growing number of free zones. Per- capita GDP in the country in 2006 hovers around $38,000, which is one of the top 25 highest per-capita GDP in the world.
The UAE was formally established in December 1971, following an agreement between rulers of the seven emirates or sheikhdoms to form a union. These emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah (which joined the union in early 1972), and Fujairah.
Abu Dhabi is the seat of federal government and the country’s capital, and haven for some of the world’s biggest oil-producing companies and most luxurious hotels and sporting facilities. Neighbouring Dubai, which is significantly smaller in size than Abu Dhabi, is considered the country’s commercial capital, hosting numerous blue chip companies that have set up their regional headquarters there over the years. Sharjah is acknowledged as the country’s cultural capital with its numerous museums and heritage sites; the emirate likewise has an attractive coastline, which is home to several resort hotels. Ajman, which lies next to Sharjah, is the smallest emirate in terms of geographical territory, while Umm Al Quwain is situated between Sharjah to the southeast and Ras Al Khaimah to the northeast, along the coast of the Arabian Gulf. Unlike the other emirates, Fujairah is nestled by rough mountains (Hajar) and a 90 kilometre coastline (Gulf of Oman). Ras Al Khaimah, on the other hand, is endowed with scenic coasts, mountains, archaeological sites and agricultural lands.
Year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular sand dunes and pulsating cosmopolitan lifestyle await every guest in Abu Dhabi. Such idyllic setting cuddles this emirate known around the world for its massive oil reserves and majestic mosques with towering minarets. These, combined with the distinct Arabic hospitality and mystique – and world-class infrastructure – make Abu Dhabi an excellent destination both for the experienced and novice traveller.
The famous Liwa oasis in the south is home to some of the largest and most beautiful sand dunes in the world. It is also the frontier that leads to the legendary Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), a vast expanse of desert that extends through Saudi Arabia and Oman, which has been the object of many explorers’ conquest in the past.
Abu Dhabi city bursts with dazzling business-cum-leisure facilities ranging from state-of-the-art convention centre, luxurious hotels, spas, designer golf courses, theatres and very soon, some of the world’s most famous museums particularly Guggenheim and Louvre. The palace-like shopping malls and indigenous souqs in Abu Dhabi make for a great shopping expedition, offering the best handicraft from local Bedouins to the best of Paris’ or Milan’s high street fashion brands, sans the ubiquitous sales tax. Gastronomic treats further abound from cool and sophisticated cafes, clubs and restaurants. For the fitness conscious, jogging and cycling (or even roller blading) are a welcome treat especially during the cooler months in the city’s charming corniche or beachfront, merely minutes away from the bustling city centre.
Furthermore the garden city of Al Ain – lying near the Oman border – is home to one of the famous peaks of the majestic Hajar Mountain and the highest point in the Emirat of Abu Dhabi (Jebel Hafeet), which rises about 1,340 metres. A world-class hotel (Grand Mercure) is nestled close to the mountain’s peak offering travellers a great relaxing stay and a panoramic view of the emirate.
Cultural sites abound in Abu Dhabi, whose name implies “Father of the Gazelle” most likely due to the large number of gazelles and oryx that once flocked the emirate’s arid deserts. These heritage sites provide holiday makers with a glimpse of this emirate’s storied past – reaching as far back as 3000 BC – and an understanding of its people’s culture, values and aspirations. Being the capital, Abu Dhabi also houses embassies and hosts ambassadors from all over the world.
Dubai is located on the Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, in the south west corner of the Arabian Gulf. It is extremely well known for its warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage, and the Emirati people are welcoming and generous in their approach to visitors. With year-round sunshine, intriguing deserts, beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels and shopping malls, fascinating heritage attractions and a thriving business community, Dubai receives millions of leisure and business visitors each year from around the world.
The local currency is the dirham, which is pegged at AED 3.67 to 1 US dollar. Dubai is tolerant and cosmopolitan and all visitors are welcome. However, Islam is a way of life in the city, and therefore tourists should adopt a certain level of cultural and religious sensitivity for the duration of their stay.
Dubai Rulers : Since 1833 the reigning Al Maktoum family have ruled Dubai. Under their wise and progressive leadership Dubai has prospered and it is now the business and tourism hub for a region. More …
Dubai History: Some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, led by the Maktoum Family, settled at the mouth of the creek in 1833. The creek was a natural harbour and Dubai soon became a centre for the fishing, pearling and sea trade. More ….
Dubai Economy: The past few decades have witnessed incredible growth throughout all sectors of the Dubai economy. The emirate’s government is constantly working to improve its commercial transparency and introduce dynamic regulations that aid the formation of small and medium enterprises. Dubai’s economy is no longer reliant on oil, but is more diversified, relying heavily on trade, services and finance sectors. With its central geographic location between Asian and European markets, Dubai has worked hard to establish itself as an integral part of the global trade mechanism. Its central location has also allowed Dubai to become a popular and accessible tourist destination. More..
Attractions: Although Dubai is seen as a relatively young destination, it has a fascinating history and a vibrant heritage that offers visitors an intriguing glimpse into Arabian culture. A good place to start exploring the history and heritage of Dubai is the Dubai Museum: it is located inside Al Fahidi Fort, one of Dubai’s oldest buildings dating back to 1787. There are other museums in Dubai and in surrounding emirates that also offer important insights into the history and growth of the city and of the United Arab Emirates. More..
Culture & Heritage: Courtesy and hospitality are among the most highly prized of virtues in the Arab world, and visitors will be charmed by the warmth and friendliness of the people. Dubai ’s culture is rooted in Islam, providing a strength and inspiration that touches all aspects of everyday life. Virtually every neighbourhood has its own mosque, where the faithful congregate for prayer five times every day. One of the largest and most beautiful mosques is Jumeirah Mosque- a spectacular example of modern Islamic architecture. More..
Dubai Nature : Dubai, with an area of 3,885 square kilometres, is the second largest emirate in the UAE. Situated on the banks of the Dubai Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf which divides the city into the Deira district to its north and Bur Dubai on its south. More ….