The United Arab Emirates is the constitutional federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. It stretched over 1448 km from the west coast of Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, where water and land overlap, to the Arabian Peninsula.
Rich of pearls which have been sustaining the UAE population for centuries, the coastline is studded with islands, coral reefs and ridges. Nearly 200 islands fall under the UAE territory on Arabian Gulf, including Abu Dhabi Island, capital of United Arab Emirates, Das Island which is rich in Oil, Delma Island which is rich in pearls, Umm Al Nar Island, Saadyat Island, Hamra Island near Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Moosa Island, Greater Tunb Island, Lesser Tunb Island, and other islands which have left their mark on UAE.
The United Arab Emirates mainland varies from narrow plains surrounded with sand desert throughout the west and the south to highlands stretching in the Far East and southern east to the borders of Oman.
According to recent discoveries, human settlement in UAE dates back to several thousand years and probably, to the Stone Age (5500 B.C. or 7500 B.C.), where the weather was humid with frequent rainfall.
This is a destination with almost year-round sunshine, little rainfall and near perfect winter temperatures. Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Sunny blue skies and high temperatures can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly in winter (November to March) and averaging 12cms per year in most of the emirate. Rain is more common in the ‘Oasis City’ of Al Ain, the emirate’s second largest city, due to its proximity to the Hajar mountains.
Temperatures range from a low of around 13°C (50°F) on a winter’s night, to a high of around 42°C (118°F) on a summer’s day. The cooler months, November to April, are the most pleasant time to visit, when temperatures are around 24°C (75°F) during the day and 13°C (56°F) at night.
UAE Local Time
The UAE is four hours ahead of UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time – formerly known as GMT) and there is no daylight saving. Hence, when it is 12.00 midday in Abu Dhabi, it is 3am in New York, 8am in London, 10am in Johannesburg, 1.30pm in New Delhi, and 6pm in Sydney (not allowing for any summer time saving in those countries).
Abu Dhabi is the largest and most populated of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, with over 80% of its landmass. The emirate’s population, now over 1.6 million, is growing at an average annual rate of 4.7%. Across the UAE, Emirati citizens make up nearly 20% of the total population; the other 80% are expatriates from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.
Arabic is the official language, although English is widely spoken and most road and shop signs and restaurant menus are in both languages. The further out of town you go, the more Arabic you will find, both written and spoken.
There are three types of spoken Arabic in contemporary Abu Dhabi. The oldest form of the language is known as Classical Arabic (think Shakesperean English), which is not commonly spoken by Arabs today, at least not in their everyday conversations. The revelation of Quran in Classical Arabic explains for the most part why the language has been preserved down the centuries; it is also the language of royal and princely courts, and the educated elite throughout Islamic history.
Literary Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), on the other hand, is used in formal or business settings such as in the broadcast media or in governmental proceedings. University or formal courses in Arabic language are oriented towards this type of spoken Arabic. The third type is Colloquial Arabic, which combines some of the features of both Classical and Modern Arabic, but assumes regional nuances and is used by Arabs in everyday conversations.
Colloquial variations explain the different pronunciations or spelling for the same alphabet in Arabic. For example the alphabet “qaaf” is pronounced “g” in Bedouin dialects, and then becomes ‘k’ in places like rural Palestine. However in most Gulf countries the same alphabet could be pronounced or spelt as “j” or “g”. Abu Dhabi locals speak Gulf Arabic, which is the native spoken language of Arab nationals in countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Southern Iraq, UAE and to a lesser extent, Oman.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and is widely practised. The basis of Islam is the belief that there is only one God and that Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is his messenger. The Islamic holy day is Friday. Muslim is required to pray (facing Mecca) five times a day. The times vary according to the position of the sun, when the modern-day call-to-prayer is transmitted through loudspeakers on mosque minarets.
The UAE Constitution provides for freedom of religion in accordance with established customs. Abu Dhabi is tolerant of other religions with people being free to practice their religious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with Islam.
Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE Federation.
H. H. late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the first President of the UAE and is known as the Father of the Nation.
UAE Political System
The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates.
The UAE is located in the North East of the Arab Peninsula and covers an area that looks like a triangle.
The UAE area 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.
UAE Geographic Coordinates
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 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 denomination: AED 1, 50 fils and 25 fils.
- Notes or bills are in the denomination of AED 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.
UAE Exchange Rate
The UAE Dirham is pegged to the USD. 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, and is interpreted by some to symbolise cleanliness.
- Black stands for the defeat of enemies and also 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.
UAE National Anthem
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.
As of 2014, the capacity of the UAE’s airports was about 100 million passengers.
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)
According to the World Shipping Council, two of the world’s top 50 container ports are in the UAE. Overall, 61 per cent of cargo destined for GCC states arrives via UAE seaports. The UAE has several seaports. Some of the major ports are: