The United Arab Emirates is a federal state in the Middle East,
consisting of seven emirates, each of which is a state - an absolute
monarchy: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Qaiwain,
Fujairah and Sharjah. Some of the listed emirates fall under the
definition of a dwarf state.
The state is headed by the President of the United Arab Emirates, who is the Emir of the largest emirate of Abu Dhabi. The capital of the United Arab Emirates is also the eponymous capital of this emirate.
Such a key role of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest and richest of the emirates, is largely due to the fact that the administrative structure of the UAE is based on the right of each emirate to dispose of hydrocarbon reserves on its territory. Thus, in fact, in accordance with oil reserves, the influence of certain emirates in determining the general policy of the country is distributed. For example, the Emir of Dubai is the head of the government of the UAE.
The UAE is located in the southwestern part of Asia, the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders on Saudi Arabia in the west and south, with Oman in the southeast and northeast (Omani semi-enclave Musandam Governorate and its full enclave, Musandama Madha Vilayet). It is washed by the waters of the Persian and Oman Gulfs.
The population of the UAE for 2020 is 10,207,863 people, the vast majority of which (up to 70%) are workers from South and Southeast Asia. The indigenous population is mainly represented by Sunni Muslims.
The country has large oil reserves, the export of which made up a significant part of GDP (56.4% in 1980, 41.1% in 1995) and due to the diversification of the economy, the share of the oil and gas industry in GDP by 2009-2013 remained below 40%.
For stays of up to 30 days, a visa is not necessary for Germans and other Western foreigners. A “visa” is issued upon entry, but this is nothing more than an entry stamp. There is also no fee and no forms to fill out. The residence permit can be extended for up to 60 days for a fee.
The importation of even small amounts of drugs and numerous medications into the United Arab Emirates is prohibited. Violators face long prison sentences. A list of banned substances (non-exhaustive!) can be found here.
There are flight connections from Frankfurt am Main to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, among others. Both are important hubs to/from Asia.
Traveling from Europe by car is extremely time-consuming. The international driving license and a Carnet de Passage are required. You can enter Oman by rental car. However, this requires separate insurance, which you can get from the car rental company. Unfortunately, the fees for this are often quite high.
There are weekly ferry connections from Sharjah to Bandar-e-Abbas and from Dubai to Bushher in Iran. It should be noted that any residual alcohol should be gone before reaching Iranian territory.
Abus Dhabi and Dubai are often the starting and ending points of cruises.
Although there are some bus connections between the big cities and
into Oman, the normal tourist should still rent a car if they want to
see something of the country. Car traffic is very dense in Dubai and the
surrounding area, and long journey times are to be expected. Once you
leave this area, however, it is very thin. The intercity roads are
usually four lanes wide. Most Emiratis drive in a relatively civilized
manner, but there are more so-called "crazy people" who drive without
any consideration for other road users than in Europe.
Fuel is very cheap (around 25 euro cents per liter). Gasoline is usually sold by the gallon. The maximum permitted speed is 120km/h - most rental cars have a built-in warning bell that rings unmistakably if this is exceeded. Otherwise, it is advisable to stick to the restrictions, as there are significantly more flashlights than in Germany. An international driving license is required to rent a car in all emirates except Dubai. It is also advisable to present one when renting in Dubai, otherwise it will be noted in the rental agreement that the car is not allowed to leave this emirate!
The official language is Arabic, the guest workers speak their respective home languages. At least on the coast you can get by with English everywhere.
The national currency is the dirham (abbreviation AED). A dirham is
divided into 100 fils. There are 25 and 50 fils and 1 dirham coins as
hard money. There are also 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 dirham
notes. For one euro you currently get around 4.6 AED. Some older 200
dirham notes are still in circulation. The dirham is the currency of the
United Arab Emirates and is therefore also valid in the neighboring
The UAE is the region's shopping paradise. From the gold souk in Dubai to gigantic shopping malls the size of which even exceeds those in America, everything is there. The prices for clothing and electronics are e.g. T. significantly cheaper than in Europe. In the gold souk and in shops particularly frequented by tourists you should know the prices, otherwise e.g. Sometimes absurdly overpriced prices are charged.
A 5% VAT was introduced at the beginning of 2018. If there is a shortage of small change (which is always the case), shops are allowed to add money to the nearest round half-dirham.
Possession and consumption of alcohol without a license was decriminalized in 2021. Except in the Emirate of Sharjah, people over 21 are allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages.
The cuisine in the Emirates is very diverse. You can find a variety of different international restaurants, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Most of them are located in hotels and are therefore a little more expensive than normal restaurants. There is usually a special dress code here, i.e. no open shoes or sneakers and no shorts for men. We highly recommend a visit to the Lebanese restaurant, which you can then end comfortably with a shisha. Emiratis are also big coffee drinkers. Chains like Starbucks etc. are omnipresent, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Although the Emirates is an Islamic country, you can get alcoholic drinks in the restaurants and hotels there. Every now and then you see an Arab sitting in a hotel bar with a beer. Only in the Emirate of Sharjah is the serving of alcohol - even to tourists - prohibited. However, you should be careful not to consume alcohol in public or to appear drunk or to exchange affectionate feelings.
There are a variety of hotels, but they are usually relatively expensive. Expect prices to start at around €60 per night. Hotels in Sharjah tend to be slightly cheaper than in Dubai.
One of the most important Islamic festivals is Ramadan First (March
22, 2023) and Last (April 21, 2023). During this time the clocks run a
little slower. The restaurants only open after sunset. Eating, drinking,
smoking, chewing gum, wearing perfume, etc. is not permitted after
sunrise to sunset. Nevertheless, you should visit the UAE at this time.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are rather relaxed about the strict requirements
during Ramadan for Western/non-Muslims. In hotels you can also get
drinks and food during the day, behind privacy screens. During this time
you can get particularly cheap flights and hotel accommodation. For
example, you can get a room that would otherwise cost around €170 per
person per night. B. from €170 per double room/night (Dubai). A special
experience during Ramadan is the Iftar, the evening prayer at sunset and
the subsequent festivities.
January 1st: New Year
January 6: Assumption of power by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Head of State of the UAE)
December 2nd: National holiday
Since 2006, the weekend begins on Friday and ends on Saturday (previously Thursday - Friday).
The Emirates are extremely safe. Simple crime is almost non-existent.
Risks for visitors arise more from the general lack of acceptance of
security measures (safety). During the refueling process, the time can
be used to take a cigarette break while making a cell phone call; The
vehicle's engine is running (otherwise the air conditioning would be
off). On the road connecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Shaikh Zayed Road,
serious traffic accidents with injuries and often deaths occur every
day. Safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems
are sometimes poorly maintained or not maintained at all, even in large
Unmarried couples have been allowed to live together since 2021, and at the same time the possibility of civil (non-Islamic) marriage was introduced. The birth of a child out of wedlock is still punishable unless joint custody is declared. Homosexual acts are a criminal offense throughout the United Arab Emirates; this also applies to aircraft flying the Arab flag for the period between take-off and landing. Men traveling together should also not book double rooms in hotels and other accommodations.
The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public remains prohibited. Staying in public while intoxicated can lead to temporary arrest. Each emirate regulates the conditions under which alcohol may be sold. A list of relevant stores in Dubai. Expect to pay €10-15 for beer at the hotel bar.
In any accident, even if no other vehicle was involved, the police should be called. Otherwise the case will be punished as a hit-and-run. There are screened seating and standing areas for women and children in buses and the Dubai Metro. These can be used by all women, including tourists, but there is no obligation to use the screened women's areas in buses or the Dubai Metro.
It should be noted that some medications available in Europe (e.g.
codeine!) are illegal in the Emirates. Be sure to find out more about
the regulations before you travel - arrests for “illegal drug
possession” have already happened!
On the other hand, many medications that require a prescription in Europe are available over the counter in the Emirates, such as: B. many antibiotics.
Don't be afraid of tropical diseases (such as malaria). The same diseases prevail in the UAE as in Germany.
The standard of medical care is very high. Medical care (doctors and hospitals) is also partly free for foreigners. In the event of illness, a foreigner only pays from the third visit to the doctor.
The climate in the United Arab Emirates is subtropical to tropical. It is very dry and hot, and temperatures vary greatly between day and night. The best time to travel to the United Arab Emirates is November to April. In summer, temperatures often climb above 40 °C, which makes staying outside very difficult.
In order to work here, you absolutely need a residence visa. Without
this you are not even allowed to work for free. You get a residence visa
from an employer. This requires a blood test to check for AIDS,
hepatitis and the like. If the test is positive, you will be expelled
from the country.
After receiving your own visa, you can apply for a residence visa for spouses and children relatively easily. To do this you need 1000 AED processing fee, a certified copy of the marriage or birth certificate in Arabic, 4 passport photos and a salary certificate from the employer, also in Arabic. The minimum salary must be AED 5000 per month and you must belong to approved professional groups (this professional group must be listed on your visa). The results of a blood test must also be available for each family member. This can be done for a fee of AED 500 at the Preventive Medicine Department at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.
The importation of even small amounts of drugs and numerous medications into the United Arab Emirates is prohibited. In addition to the usual drugs that are also banned in Europe, this regulation particularly affects some psychotropic drugs, strong painkillers and numerous cold medicines with codeine additives. Violators face long prison sentences. If the medication was prescribed by a doctor, a written certificate from the doctor (and, if necessary, a certified translation) must be carried. The safest way is to have the medication and medical certificate confirmed and approved in writing by the consulate before entering the country.
Recently it has been observed that the rules regarding “disorderly behavior” in public are being applied more strictly again. This includes, above all, the exchange of affection (including kisses) in public as well as any type of public intoxication through alcohol or drugs. That's why you avoid both and retreat to your own hotel room if necessary.
Boat tours should avoid the area of the islands of Abu Moussa, Greater Tumb and Lesser Tumb in the Strait of Hormuz area. The area is also claimed by Iran. The Iranian offense of “violating Iranian territorial waters and illegal immigration” threatens prison sentences of several years.
During the fasting month of Ramadan, public eating, drinking and smoking are prohibited during the day. This also applies to members of non-Islamic religions. The bars and restaurants in some hotels are excluded.
Different countries, different customs - despite all the
internationality and tolerance - of course also apply to the Emirates.
The Emirates are predominantly Muslim. Accordingly, film and photo
cameras should be used carefully. Questioning eye contact goes without
saying before every picture. Photographing women can be more difficult.
It is definitely advisable to ask briefly (“Mumkin?” - “possible?,” i.e.
From a German perspective, it may sometimes seem as if some Emiratis themselves have “no manners” (standing in queues, etc.). It should be borne in mind that German and Emirati cultures are fundamentally different in many respects. In the Emirates there is queuing, for example. B. a strange European habit that they still don't understand. It's not important who got there first, what's more important is who's in the hurry and is higher in rank. And if you take a closer look at the hustle and bustle, you will notice that women generally have priority. In any case, you should basically remember that there is no such thing as international rules of etiquette and respect the customs of the respective country, just as you would like your own customs to be respected.
There are some important rules of conduct:
You should not wear shorts despite high temperatures. To Arabs, this looks like walking around in your underpants.
Women should also have clothing covering at least their shoulders and knees. There is no obligation to wear a headscarf.
Bikinis are only allowed on private hotel beaches.
If possible, men should not approach strange Arab women. Exception: women at their workplaces.
Women are not allowed to shake hands; among men, a firm handshake is considered an insult.
Eating with your left hand is taboo.
In every traffic accident, even if another vehicle is not involved, the police must be called in.
The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public is strictly prohibited, but alcohol consumption is permitted for non-Muslims in hotel areas and on private hotel beaches.
Anyone who is under the influence of alcohol and attracts attention in public will receive a prison sentence of at least 24 hours.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense in the UAE. Men traveling together should not book double rooms in hotels and other accommodations to protect themselves from conflict and prosecution.
While the muezzin is singing, it is not allowed to listen to music, make phone calls or use a smartphone, not even to write mass messages.
Nothing can be placed on a Quran.
Almost all prices are subject to negotiation. The rule of thumb is: the dealer states his price, you counter with half and then meet in the middle.
Patience is a virtue that one must have when coming to this country. Everything takes a long time and anyone who believes that Germany is bureaucratic will think carefully about their position when they get home.
If you prefer toilet paper to a water hose, you would be well advised to carry a roll with you. Although there is always paper in hotels, it is not very common in private households.
It is extremely rude to refuse an offer of a drink.
Invitations from Arabs are often only meant seriously if they are expressed at least three times.
Arabs are very friendly people. It's natural for them to offer help, even if they can't or don't actually want to. This means that promises are often made but then not kept. This is part of Arab culture and is not meant in a bad way.
The Emirates is a very international country. Unskilled, temporary
workers and skilled workers from abroad make up around 70% of the
population (Dubai 80%). Communication in English is almost always
possible in cities and is usually possible in the countryside.
The GSM mobile network is covered by two operators: Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (DU) and Emirates Telecom Corp-ETISALAT. Prepaid cards are offered for both networks.
For longer stays or desert tours, we recommend a satellite phone from Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co. Regular use of Thuraya may be cheaper than the landline or GSM. This is especially true for Thuraya to Thuraya connections, e.g. B. from Europe to expatriates working in the Emirate of Sharjah. Here it is sometimes even free to use. The Thuraya satellites are the largest sea-launched communications satellites to date (from US ships in the Pacific). Devices can be rented in almost all European countries. These are slightly larger and heavier than modern “cell phones” and can also process conventional GSM (when roaming).
Since January 2018, the use of VoIP telephony (i.e. via Skype or WhatsApp) has no longer been possible. For “reasons of state security”, only the service of the state telephone company with its corresponding app (chargeable for UAE residents) can be used.
The postage for a postcard to Europe is 3 dirhams.
Archaeological finds at Sila are 7,000 years old.
Further finds on the island of Umm an-Nar near Abu Dhabi indicate settlement as early as the 4th millennium BC. Close. At Al-Ain there was also evidence of a ca. 2500 BC dated culture that mined and traded copper in the Hajar Mountains. Long-distance trade was boosted by the domestication of the camel at the end of the 2nd millennium BC.
The land route from Syria to what is now southern Iraq was followed by the sea route across the Persian Gulf to India, including via the important port of Omana (probably today's Umm al-Qaiwain). Pearl diving has been an important industry since ancient times. Large fairs were held in Dibba, among other places, which were attended by merchants from the region and even China.
Along the ancient trade routes to India, Christianity spread to the
southern part of the Persian Gulf in the 6th century. The Christian
monastery of Sir Bani Yas, discovered in the 1990s on an offshore island
(Sir Bani Yas Island), existed until the 8th century and was apparently
abandoned without any armed conflict. In 630, messengers from the
Prophet Mohammed arrived from Mecca and converted the local tribes to
Islam. After the death of Muhammad in 632, they broke off the alliance
and broke away from the new religion. The decisive battle of the
subsequent Ridda Wars took place in Dibba and brought the defeat of the
apostate non-Muslims and the final triumph of Islam on the Arabian
In 637, Julfar (now Ras al-Khaimah) was one of the starting points for the invasion of Persia and in the following centuries developed into a rich port and the center of the pearl trade, with dhows sailing throughout the Indian Ocean.
In the 7th century the coast came under the influence of the Kharijites. From the 9th to 11th centuries the area belonged to the Shiite Qarmatian state.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the area came under direct
influence of the Ottoman Empire, which was soon displaced by the
Portuguese, who built bases in the Gulf to secure the trade route to
India. In his search for the "spice route" to Asia, which eventually led
him to India, Vasco da Gama relied on the help of Ahmad ibn Majid, a
navigator and cartographer from Julfar.
The Portuguese controlled the Persian Gulf until they were driven out by Omani tribes around 1650.
From the “Pirate” to the “Treaty Coast”
In 1747, the Qawasim Bedouins settled on the southern Gulf Coast and took advantage of the power vacuum in the Gulf to engage in not only pearl fishing, but also piracy against merchant shipping, leading to the name "Pirate Coast." The centers were the ports of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah. By 1780, the Qawasim's power had grown so much that they were able to muster a fleet of 60 ships with 20,000 sailors, which meant that they also dominated large parts of the Persian Gulf coast and threatened Oman's trade. Omani counterattacks were unsuccessful.
Since piracy threatened the Indian trade, Great Britain undertook several punitive expeditions between 1806 and 1819, which culminated in a peace treaty with all the emirates in 1820. Nevertheless, there were repeated attacks on merchant ships until a “perpetual maritime peace” was declared in 1853. The Emirates gradually became British protectorates and were referred to as “Peaceful Oman”, “Treaty Soman” or “Treaty Coast” (Trucial States).
An 1892 treaty between Great Britain and a number of Gulf emirates cemented the close ties and stipulated that the sheikhs were not allowed to alienate territory or enter into relations with other states without British consent. In return, Britain vowed to protect the “Treaty Coast” against attacks from sea and land.
With the assumption of power by Sheikh Shakbuth bin Diab in 1793, the
Al Nahyan family from the Bani Yas tribe moved from the inland oasis of
Liwa to Abu Dhabi (founded in 1761), which had developed into an
important pearl fishing center. There he founded a fort and expanded his
power to the oasis of al Ain. Despite their new capital on the coast,
the root and heart of the Bani Yas tribes lay in their Bedouin roots.
The Qawasim formed the second major tribal group. This tribe controlled a large part of the northern Emirates. Their strengths were less pearl diving than trade and seafaring.
A few decades later, another branch of the Bani Yas migrated north, split off from the family and founded Dubai in the area of today's creek in 1833 (the settlement of Bar Dubai is first mentioned in 1822), which not only operated pearl fishing, but also became an important trading center. Pearl fishing and trading were one of the most important industries until well into the 20th century. The Great Depression of 1929 and the spread of cheap cultured pearls from Japan led to the decline of the Gulf pearl industry.
In the following years there were repeated, sometimes armed, conflicts between the tribes.
In the early 1930s, the first oil companies obtained concessions to
drill in the Trucial States. Oil was discovered on a large scale in the
early 1960s and the first shipload was exported from Abu Dhabi in 1962.
Unlike his predecessor and first-born brother, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, from 1966 onwards, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi used the increasing income from oil production for an extensive development program from which the poorer neighboring emirates also benefited. After Dubai also began exporting oil in 1969, Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum, de facto ruler of the emirate since 1939, was able to use the new wealth to improve the quality of life of his people.
From 1955 onwards, Great Britain helped settle Abu Dhabi's disputes
with Saudi Arabia over the emirate's southern border. In 1952, the
Saudis, who already had large cash reserves from trading oil, offered
Sheikh Zayed $42 million - for years this was considered the largest
bribe ever paid to an individual - if he gave up the fight against their
claim to Buraimi. The later founder of the UAE refused the sum on the
grounds that he was only interested in the well-being of his people.
An improvement in relations between Saudi Arabia and the UAE occurred when Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz took over the Saudi government and Sheikh Zayed became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966. In 1974, both signed a border agreement that ended the 170-year battle over the Buraimi area. Immediately afterwards, Saudi Arabia recognized the UAE. As part of this agreement, the connection (port of Khor al Udaid and other oil-bearing lands) between Qatar and Abu Dhabi was severed. In 1974, the two countries reached an agreement that settled these disputes. However, it has not yet been ratified by the UAE government and the Saudi government does not recognize it. The border between the two states is therefore largely a de facto border. The exact border line has not played a major role so far, as there is a sandy desert in the border area.
The border with Oman at the Al-Ain/Buraimi Oasis, which is also controversial, has not yet been officially defined, but the two governments agreed to mark it in May 1999.
From 1952 onwards, with the advent of oil production, closer
cooperation between the Emirates developed. Over the course of the
1960s, British oil companies increasingly lost influence to US
The existing British Office for Development was replaced by the Trucial States Council, a coordinating council established by the rulers of the Emirates, of which Adi Bitar, legal advisor to Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum, was appointed as Secretary General and Legal Adviser.
Britain announced the East of Suez Policy in 1967, under which it would withdraw from its military bases and other commitments east of the Suez Canal by the end of 1971. This would mean that the protection agreements with the areas on the Persian Gulf - in addition to the Trucial States also Bahrain and Qatar - would end on December 31, 1971.
The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai decided to unite their emirates into a union, have a constitution drafted (by Adi Bitar), and then invite the rulers of the other five emirates to join the union.
On December 2, 1971, Great Britain granted independence to the Trucial States. The rulers of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai and Umm al-Qaiwain met on the same day. Under the leadership and mediation of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, they founded the United Arab Emirates, with Sheikh Zayed himself as president, which joined the United Nations a week later, on December 9th. On February 11, 1972, Ras al-Khaimah joined the UAE as the seventh and final emirate of the former Trucial States.
The Gulf Cooperation Council was founded in 1981 with Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. After Iraq's annexation of Kuwait in
August 1990, the UAE supported UN efforts to liberate the country. The
UAE air bases were used by the Western allies as a base for military
strikes against Iraq during the Second Gulf War. Defense alliances were
concluded with the USA and France in 1994 and 1995, respectively.
The UAE supports US and other coalition forces in their operations in Afghanistan, where the UAE has also deployed troops, as well as in Iraq and in the fight against terror, primarily from Al Dhafra Air Base.
On November 2, 2004, the first president and founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, succeeded him as ruler of Abu Dhabi; In addition, the Supreme Council of Rulers elected him President of the UAE in accordance with the constitution. Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a brother of Sheikh Khalifa, accordingly became Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In January 2006, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE, died; His brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, succeeded him. In May 2022, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died.
In early January 2023, it was announced that Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technologies and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the UAE's state oil company, would chair the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) from November 30th to December 12th, 2023 in Dubai, the capital of the Emirate of Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates occupy a territory in the northeastern
part of the Arabian Peninsula, washed by the Persian Gulf. On land,
the United Arab Emirates borders Saudi Arabia to the south and west,
and Oman to the east. The northern coast is opposite Iran across the
Persian Gulf, while Qatar is only 50 km to the northwest. Together,
these emirates occupy an area about the same size as Portugal. The
emirate of Abu Dhabi accounts for 85% of the area of all the United
Arab Emirates; and the smallest of the emirates - Ajman - only 250
Most of the territory of the United Arab Emirates is occupied by the desert (Rub al-Khali) - one of the largest areas in the world covered with sand. There are salt deposits in the coastal regions of the United Arab Emirates. The mountainous relief is characteristic of the northern and eastern regions of the country. Representatives of the fauna are the Arabian leopard and the Arabian oryx returned to nature, more often you can see one-humped camels and wild goats. During the spring and autumn migrations of birds flying from Central Asia and East Africa, one can observe their large concentrations in the north of the country. Outside the mountainous regions in the emirates of Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah, much of the vegetation is the result of the government's greening program in the country: even the date palm groves in the Buraimi oasis on the country's eastern border have been imported from municipal parks.
The climate of the country is very hot and dry (tropical desert). There are often sandstorms. The average maximum in the shade during the summer months is approximately 40-45°C, but often reaches 50°C. Winter temperature: 20-23 °C during the day, colder at night, but frosts are extremely rare. Precipitation is irregular, mainly from November to May, the annual rate is about 100 mm.
Despite the unfavorable desert climate for flora, the world's largest flower park is open in Dubai.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the population of the UAE, as of July 2021, was 9,856,612 people. The United Nations estimated the country's total population as of mid-2019 to be 9,771,000; Immigrants make up 87.9% of the country's total population. According to an estimate for 2015, 11.6% of the population of the UAE are Emirati, South Asians - 59.4% (including 38.2% Indians, 9.5% Bangladeshis, 9.4% Pakistanis, 2.3% - citizens other countries of South Asia), Egyptians - 10.2%, Filipinos - 6.1%, citizens of other countries - 12.8%.
The official language is Arabic, but English, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Pashto, Tagalog and Persian are also widely used. Urban population - 87.3% (2021).
88% of the population of the Emirates is concentrated in cities. The largest and fastest growing city is Dubai with a population of over 2.5 million. Other major cities are Abu Dhabi (the capital), Sharjah, Al Ain and Fujairah. The total fertility rate for 2021 is 1.65 births per woman. Literacy - 93.8%; men - 93.1%, women - 95.8% (2015). About 14.45% of the population is under the age of 15 years, 83.65% - from 15 to 65 years old, 1.9% - over 65 years old. In 2021, the birth rate was estimated at 10.87 per 1000 of the population, the death rate - 1.51 per 1000, immigration - -3.18 per 1000, the population growth was 0.62%. Infant mortality - 5.25 per 1000 newborns. The life expectancy of the population, as of 2021, is 79.37 years (for men - 78.04 years, and for women - 80.78 years). The average age of the population, as of 2020, is 38.4 years (men - 40.4 years, women - 31.5 years). 85% of those living in the country are not citizens of the UAE. Arab immigrants are represented mainly by Arabs from other Arab countries with a low standard of living (Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan). There are immigrants from the countries of East and Central Africa, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Eritrea.
Emirates population according to censuses and latest official estimates.
Almost all citizens of the UAE are Muslims, 85% of which are Sunnis
and 15% are Shiites. According to the migration services of the
Emirates, approximately 55% of immigrants are also Muslims, 25% are
Hindus, 10% are Christians, and 5% are Buddhists. The other 5% are Sikh
and Baha'i minorities. According to a study by the Ministry of Planning,
out of a total of 4.1 million people living in the UAE, including
foreigners, three-quarters are Muslims.
Dubai is the only emirate that has a gurdwara and a mandir. There are churches in every emirate. In 2011, the first Orthodox church complex in the history of Christianity was built on the territory of the United Arab Emirates - St. Philip the Apostle in Sharjah (Russian Orthodox Church).
Arabic is the official language of the UAE. English, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi and Tagalog are also spoken in the country.
Due to the large influx of Russian-speaking tourists in Dubai, a huge number of signs and announcements in Russian have appeared, and in tourist centers, hotels and shops, many speak Russian.
90% of the country's workforce are immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Political stability, modern infrastructure and economically favorable situation in the country attract both high-skilled migrants and low-skilled ones.
To maintain economic growth and a high standard of living in the country, in 1971 the government introduced a temporary program for visiting workers, called the "Kafala Sponsorship System" (hereinafter - Kafala), which allowed foreign citizens and companies to hire migrants for work.
Since the founding of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, the Emirates
have continually developed their national identity and benefited from a
very high level of political stability for the region. According to the
1971 Provisional Constitution, the UAE is a federation of seven
autonomous emirates. In May 1996, the Federal Supreme Council approved
amendments to the constitution that permanently designated Abu Dhabi as
the capital and made the previously provisional constitution definitive.
The state is defined by the German Foreign Office as a “patriarchal
presidential system with traditional consultation mechanisms”. It is a
combination of traditional and modern elements, with the government
trying to consolidate a strong modernization drive with the preservation
of Islamic and regional traditions.
At the federal level, constitutional law provides for the Federal Supreme Council, the Federal Cabinet, a Council of Ministers, a parliament (Federal National Council) and an independent judiciary, headed by the Federal Supreme Court Court) stands before. The members of the Supreme Council of Rulers elect the President and Vice President from among themselves, who each remain in office for five years until re-election takes place. According to the 1971 unification agreement, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi holds the presidency; The Prime Minister usually serves as Vice President.
The Ruling Council has both legislative and executive powers. It ratifies federal laws and decrees, sets policy guidelines, approves the nomination of the Prime Minister and accepts his resignation. On the recommendation of the President, he can also remove the Prime Minister from office.
The Council of Ministers and the Cabinet, described in the Constitution as the “executive authority of the Federation”, have the usual ministerial portfolios and are headed by the Prime Minister. This is chosen by the President in consultation with the other members of the Supreme Council of Rulers and is usually the Sheikh of Dubai. The Prime Minister (since January 4, 2006, Muhammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) proposes the ministers, who are appointed by the President.
The individual emirates, for their part, form the constituent states, whose succession to the throne is hereditary. From a political point of view, the UAE is a federally organized constitutional monarchy; In fact, it is an autocracy in a modern constitutional guise. The member states, for their part, are absolutist hereditary monarchies.
The Federal National Council (FNC) is the federal parliament. Its
composition is determined by the emirates based on their population.
Since the end of 2006, half of its members have been elected through
The FNC plays an important role in the consolidation of the Shura in the UAE and has both a legislative and supervisory role under the constitution. Its duty is to examine and – if necessary – amend drafts of all federal laws. He can summon a federal minister at any time and question him about the efficiency of his ministry. The chairman of the FNC is elected from among the members.
Since the 2006 United Arab Emirates Federal National Council elections, the FNC has taken an increasingly proactive role. As part of the ongoing political reform in the UAE, the Federal National Council is expected to become a fully elected institution in the long term. The FNC is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Arab Parliamentary Union (APU).
The United Arab Emirates has an administratively hand-picked electorate to elect half of the members of the Federal National Council. In 2006, in the first election ever, there were 1,163 female and 6,595 female voters, according to Adams. Since the conditions for women and men are equal, this is seen here as general active and passive women's suffrage. A woman was elected to parliament in 2006 and 2011.
In parallel to the federal institutions, each of the seven emirates
has its own government. The complexity of governments varies from
emirate to emirate, depending on factors such as population, area and
level of development.
The largest emirate in terms of area, Abu Dhabi, has its own central government apparatus, the Executive Council. This in turn includes various ministries. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is divided into two regions: the Western Region and the Eastern Region, which in turn are led by official representatives of the ruler. The two largest cities, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, are governed by municipalities, each of which has a city council reporting to the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture. A new city authority was created for the Western Region. The Abu Dhabi National Consultative Council consists of 60 members from leading tribes and families and assumes a role roughly equivalent to that of the Federal National Council at the federal level.
In the Emirate of Dubai, the Dubai Executive Council, founded in 2003, fulfills similar functions to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. At the end of 2006, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the son of the ruler of Dubai, was appointed chairman of the council. The Executive Council supports the Emirate's Ruler and Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in preparing development plans for Dubai and in formulating and implementing laws at the emirate and federal levels. In recent years, key projects have included the restructuring of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority and the Land Department, both of which play a crucial role in the emirate's rapid development.
The Emirates of Sharjah and Ajman also have Executive Councils. Sharjah also has a Consultative Council, which is responsible for the entire emirate. In its three remote exclaves on the country's east coast, Sharjah has ceded various powers to local governments, particularly in Kalba and Khor Fakkan.
A similar pattern of city councils, ministries, authorities and independent institutions exists in the other emirates. In the smaller and more remote localities, the ruler of each emirate can appoint a local representative, an emir or wali, through whom the concerns of the residents can be presented to the emirate government. Often the representatives are members of the leading local tribes.
The competencies of the various federal institutions and their relationships with individual local governments have changed over the years. According to the constitution, rulers can hand over certain powers to the federal government. A historical example of this was the unification of the armed forces in the mid-1970s. To this day, the relationships between federal and local governments are subject to continuous change; Nevertheless, the traditional mechanisms of government remain at their core and continue to evolve.
Traditionally in the UAE, the ruler of an emirate - the sheikh - is
leader of the most powerful, but not necessarily the most populous,
tribe, while each individual tribe has its own leader. The sheikhs could
only maintain their rule as long as they had the support of the people.
An essential part of this process of rule was the unwritten but central
principle that the population should have free access to the sheikh and
that the emir should often hold an open majlis in which every citizen
could freely express his or her opinion.
To date, the institution of the Majlis has retained its importance in the UAE political system. In the larger emirates, not only the rulers, but also other high-ranking members of the ruling families hold regular open majlis meetings in which anyone interested can raise any topic of personal or more general interest. In the smaller emirates, the core focus remains on the majlis of the ruler himself or his heir to the throne or deputy ruler. These meetings are attended, among others, by traditional-minded tribesmen who wait months to present their concerns or complaints directly to the Emir, instead of going through the authorities structured according to the modern Western model. In this way, the tried and tested methods of traditional rule have retained their importance and play a core role in the further development of the political system.
The UAE is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Arab League, the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the
Islamic Conference), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OAPEC). They are also a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) and are also represented in it.
According to Guido Steinberg, the foreign policy of the United Arab Emirates is characterized by three main concerns: combating Islamism and political Islam in the Arab world, containing Iranian expansionist interests and controlling sea routes from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. From the VAR's perspective, the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood has a particularly high priority. They apparently financially supported the military coup in Egypt in 2013 to overthrow the then Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who belonged to the Freedom and Justice Party founded by the Muslim Brotherhood. The United Arab Emirates was also among a group of countries that boycotted Qatar from 2017 to 2021, accusing the emirate of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia has been one of the Emirates' most important allies since the UAE's founding. In the 1970s, the border between Saudi Arabia and the UAE was made mandatory. However, the exact borderline was not initially published. In 1995 the treaty was submitted to the UN. However, the UAE never ratified the treaty. In 2004, Saudi Arabia annexed the land corridor that had previously connected the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with Qatar. This had an immense impact on road traffic between Qatar and the UAE. On the one hand, there were time-consuming border controls, and on the other hand, women could no longer travel this route without a male driver because they were not allowed to drive motor vehicles in Saudi Arabia. For this reason, a bridge over the sea between the UAE and Qatar was under discussion. Since June 2018, women have also been allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates has long acted as Saudi Arabia's junior partner. The fact that they are now sometimes going their own way when it comes to foreign policy is shown by the withdrawal of their troops from Yemen in 2019. The VAR had previously been part of the Saudi-led military coalition that launched the military intervention in Yemen in 2015.
The United Arab Emirates is also an important ally of the USA. They were involved in many major US military operations such as the second Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan and the first Libyan civil war - only in the Iraq War did they refuse any support. Relations with Iran are strained due to three islands (Abu Musa) occupied since 1971, which is why the UAE also criticized the nuclear deal with Iran. During Donald Trump's presidency, relations between the UAE and the USA intensified, not least due to Donald Trump's openly anti-Iranian stance. Since the conclusion of a security agreement in 2017, around 3,500 US troops as well as several combat aircraft and reconnaissance drones have been stationed at several air bases in the Gulf state. Back in 2008, the Emir of Abu Dhabi allowed France to set up a naval base; The construction of two French nuclear reactors was also agreed.
The UAE has been supporting the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar in his campaign against the Libyan government in Tripoli in the civil war in Libya since 2014. The UAE is considered a supplier of supplies to his army. Among other things, an air force base in Eritrea is used for this purpose.
The United Arab Emirates became the third Arab state after Egypt and Jordan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in August 2020 and signed the peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on September 15, 2020. However, Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan subsequently reiterated that the UAE will continue to support the Palestinians in their quest for their own state.
According to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, the United Arab Emirates is responsible for various human rights violations and discrimination, particularly in the areas of treatment of migrant workers, women's rights, civil rights, freedom of the press, working conditions of foreign construction workers (including numerous deaths), and criminalization of homosexual acts , corporal punishment and more.
The UAE has continuously provided large-scale assistance to countries
and regions in the developing world affected by conflict and natural
disasters. The main development assistance agency in the UAE is the Abu
Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which was founded in 1971 and has
since provided more than 12.6 billion dirhams ($3.45 billion) in aid.
Together with other expenditures, contributions from the fund and the
Abu Dhabi government totaled 24 billion dirhams (US$6.54 billion),
supporting 258 different projects in 52 countries.
Other aid agencies include the UAE branch of the Red Crescent as well as Dubai Cares and Noor Dubai.
The armed forces of the United Arab Emirates (Union Defense Force,
UDF) consist of 63,000 soldiers (as of 2020) and consist of the army
(44,000 men), navy (2,500 men), air force (4,500 men) and presidential
guard (12,000 men). In absolute terms, the size of the UAE armed forces
can be compared to the size of the armed forces of the Netherlands or
Canada. In 2015, compulsory military service was introduced. The staff
is 70% local. Mariam al-Mansouri is the first female fighter pilot in
the UAE Armed Forces, which attracted international attention.
The commander-in-chief of the UDF was the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, until May 2022. In day-to-day events, the army was commanded by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Muhammad bin Zayed became ruler of Abu Dhabi in May 2022. The Minister of Defense is Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
The USA plays a central role in the UAE's defense policy. An agreement ratified in 1996 allows them to store military material and use airfields. Along with France, the USA is also one of the main weapons suppliers. UAE soldiers and officers regularly train at US military installations; numerous former US officers are employed as military advisors.
According to US figures, the UAE spent $23.5 billion on defense in 2016. Defense spending as a share of economic output is among the highest in the world.
The United Arab Emirates has a dual legal system consisting of
secular and Islamic law. While the UAE constitution cites Islamic law,
Sharia, as the main source of law, according to the German Foreign
Office, this plays no role in the practical application of civil law,
with the exception of family law matters. At the same time, secular law
is based on Sharia in that old and new laws are always checked for their
compatibility with Islamic law and should be compatible with it.
According to information from the German diplomatic mission in Dubai,
the “relevant legal sources in the order of their importance” for civil
law issues are: “1. Constitution, 2. Federal and Emirate Legislation, 3.
Sharia, 4. Commercial Customs and Practice.”
The independence of the judiciary in matters of civil, criminal and public law is constitutionally established in the UAE. In legislative and executive matters, the Supreme Council of Rulers, consisting of the rulers of the seven emirates, is the highest authority at the federal level.
The highest judicial authority in the state is the High Federal Court of the Union. This consists of a senior advocate, the Chief of Justice, and no more than five judges who are appointed by the President. The High Federal Court is authorized to review case law; It can also mediate or make judgments in disputes between the federal government and the emirates or between the emirates. Last but not least, the Federal Court has the authority to prosecute and punish legal violations and misconduct on the part of cabinet members and high-ranking government officials. The federal legal system consists of several federal courts of first instance. They are responsible for matters within their territorial area of competence or matters that are reserved for them according to the constitution. The judgments made by these federal courts can be challenged in the next higher courts, the Federal Appellate Courts and, in the final instance, the High Federal Court (see above). An exception to this are the Emirates of Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah, whose local courts are responsible for areas of legal competence that do not necessarily belong to the federal courts.
Rape is not prosecuted under civil criminal law, but, as in many
Islamic countries, under Islamic Sharia law. This means that the burden
of proof in rape cases lies with the rape victim. Without solid
evidence, the rape victim can be convicted of “extramarital sex.” On
November 7, 2020, the government announced that it would in future
punish honor killings and other so-called honor crimes just as harshly
as all other crimes. Criminal and family law will be comprehensively
The Emirates is one of the countries where the death penalty applies. Offenses punishable by the death penalty include: the carrying out of terrorist attacks, adultery, homosexual acts and turning away from the Islamic faith. In the last twenty years, executions have only been carried out in the case of murderers. In theory, execution by stoning is possible, but in practice it is carried out exclusively by shooting. In 2014, a woman in Abu Dhabi was sentenced to death by stoning, but the sentence was probably not carried out.
In addition to prison sentences, courts also impose flogging.
Sharia law applies to Muslims in family law. Foreign citizens have
the right to have their case heard under Islamic law, but not the
obligation to do so. Since 2005, Emirati women can only marry with the
consent of a male relative. If the “tutor” refuses consent, a judge must
decide whether the marriage takes place. The law continues to grant
different rights to husbands and wives. Marriages between Muslim women
and non-Muslims are not possible. Muslim men are only allowed to marry
women of an Abrahamic religion.
In 2021, Abu Dhabi became the first emirate to allow civil marriages, which are reserved for non-Muslims. In this emirate, non-Muslims can also share custody of children and freely regulate their inheritance in their wills.
Although a law has been being worked on for years to define the rights of private consumers, there is still no binding regulation to date. This means that there is no legal guarantee; the seller can always rely on the purchased as seen point of view. In practice, however, many large department stores and supermarket chains offer generous exchange options, for example a return within a week if you don't like it. However, in the event of disputes with small traders, the authority can help mediate the dispute.
In the UAE there is a labor law that is strongly geared towards the
interests of employers and regulates most aspects such as working hours,
leaving the company and the right to dismissal. The employment of
foreign workers generally requires the approval of the Ministry of
Labor. The work and residence permit is issued for three years, since
2011 only for two years, and can be renewed. It applies to a specific
job, but can be transferred to another job if you change employer with
the employer's consent.
Normal working hours are eight hours a day, six days a week, i.e. H. 48-hour weeks are the rule. However, in retail, restaurants and hotels, these working hours can certainly be extended to nine hours per day. In contrast, in physically demanding jobs, for example, working hours are often shortened and divided into shifts; this is particularly common in the construction industry. In government agencies that employ relatively large numbers of locals, a 35-hour week is the norm. As in many predominantly Muslim countries, Friday is free. Traditionally, the weekend for office workers consisted of Thursday afternoon and Friday. However, a five-day week is now being introduced more and more frequently, with Friday and Saturday off. During Ramadan, regular working hours are reduced to two hours per day. Otherwise, unpaid overtime is not uncommon.
There are ten public holidays per year. There are also vacation days, the number of which depends on the length of employment. Anyone who works between six and twelve months gets two extra days per month. Anyone who has been employed for more than one year receives 30 days of paid vacation from the second year onwards in addition to statutory holidays, sick leave and (for women) maternity and childcare leave.
There are no trade unions in the UAE, freedom of association for employees and company co-determination are unknown. In the event of a dispute between employee and employer, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs acts as an arbitrator and tries to mediate. If, in the opinion of one of the parties, this effort is unsuccessful, the proceedings may go to court. Strikes are banned in the UAE, limited work stoppages e.g. due to lack of wages or gross violations of labor standards, there have already been cases.
Agreeing on a probationary period is common practice in the UAE. The right to continued payment of wages in the event of illness begins three months after a successful probationary period, but the employer has the right to terminate the contract after just 90 days of absence from work. Only in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is there compulsory health insurance; Dubai is planning to introduce it. Since there is no unemployment or pension insurance requirement in the UAE, every employee has to make their own private provisions.
The UAE is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world and lies
in the so-called strategic ellipse. GDP per capita is among the highest
in the world. In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a
country's competitiveness, the UAE ranks 16th out of 138 countries (as
of 2016-17). The country ranked 8th out of 180 countries in the 2017
Economic Freedom Index. The UAE is now one of the most liberal economies
in the world. However, the economic differences between the emirates are
extreme, with only three of the seven emirates producing oil. Oil export
revenues have fluctuated significantly in recent years due to fierce
competition in the international oil market. Nevertheless, GDP grew by
3.0% in 2016. In the same year, 0.7% of GDP was generated in
agriculture, 44.6% in industry and 54.7% in the service sector. In 2003,
military spending was 3.1% of GDP, education spending was 1.6% and
health spending was 3.3%. In 2000, 8% of the population was employed in
agriculture, 33% in industry and 59% in the service sector. The
unemployment rate was only 1.6% in 2016, there is full employment.
However, unemployment among the local population is expected to rise.
The total number of employees is estimated at 5.8 million in 2017; Of
these, 12.4% are women and around 85% are foreigners. Inflation averaged
1.5% in 2016.
Due to the uneven distribution of oil and gas reserves in the individual emirates, solidarity-based income equalization is practiced at the level of the UAE's state revenues. In a balanced manner, the money flows from richer emirates such as Abu Dhabi to economically disadvantaged and resource-poor areas, such as Ras al-Khaimah, in order to ensure uniform economic development.
Although the UAE is becoming less reliant on revenue from oil and gas production, oil and gas exports still play a large role, particularly in Abu Dhabi. A construction boom, an expanding manufacturing economy and a thriving trade and services sector are helping the UAE diversify its economy. There are currently $350 billion worth of construction projects across the country. Among these are the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, Dubai-World Central Airport, three artificial palm islands, the Dubai Mall and, in Abu Dhabi, the islands of Saadiyat and Yas, for culture and motor sports.
Tourism now has a high economic importance for the country. With over 14.9 million tourists, the UAE was the 24th most visited country in the world in 2016. Tourism revenue that same year was $19.4 billion. The number of visitors has doubled since 2010, with the country benefiting from its modern infrastructure and favorable geographical location. The majority of tourism revenue benefits the two emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Smaller emirates are also increasingly trying to specifically promote tourism.
Finished products, machinery and transport equipment together account for 80% of imports.
The largest investment authority, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), manages approximately $360 billion in foreign investments and has approximately $900 billion in assets.
Since the 1970s, many desert areas have been transformed into agricultural areas through systematic irrigation. Fossil groundwater reserves are often tapped for irrigation, usually very saline and undrinkable, and are likely to run dry. Tobacco, vegetables, dates and citrus fruits can therefore be grown, even if only in small quantities. Agriculture and livestock breeding can also be carried out in the groundwater-rich areas around al-Ain and the Hajar Mountains. Poultry farming was greatly expanded. In the emirates of Ajman and Umm al-Quwain, fishing is the main source of income.
Abu Dhabi produces by far the largest amounts of oil and natural gas; Dubai and Sharjah follow. Apart from oil and gas processing, there is aluminum production (with natural gas as energy base), production of fertilizers, cement and other building materials, and metal processing. Abu Dhabi has the majority of the industry.
There is a general import tariff of 5% (except in the free trade
zones); Exceptions apply to certain product groups. The non-oil
producing emirates rely on trade and, in recent years, increasingly on
tourism. The city of Dubai is leading the way in this regard. The IT
sector, with its own districts for corporate offices, is also the most
developed in Dubai. The country is also increasingly investing in new
service and technology sectors in order to become more independent of
the raw materials market. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA),
among others, plays an important (state) role here. Companies can only
be founded by foreigners if locals (companies) have at least 51%
participation, with the exception of branches.
Dubai is home to the Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange, the former International Financial Exchange (DIFX), which offers certificates on funds or foreign indices in addition to local stocks.
All companies (except in free trade zones) must be at least 51% owned by a local. This law aims to ensure that only Emiratis are in senior positions. However, the local often only acts as a so-called “sponsor”, which means that through contractual agreements an attempt is made to ensure that the foreign partner receives control over the management and a larger share of the profits than corresponds to his share in the company. In the many free trade zones, companies can usually be operated by foreigners independently of a local citizen. In most cases, however, no commercial traffic is allowed to take place from a free trade zone into the Emirates, although this rule is rarely observed. The government is leading a campaign that aims to ensure a certain quota of local workers in all state departments - such as the post office, the police, administration, banks and the military. This campaign is operated under the name “Emiratization”.
The fight against counterfeit branded products is pursued very differently in the individual emirates. It ranges from regular raids on stores and imposing prison sentences on dealers in Dubai to open sales in the state-owned Cooperative Society department stores in Abu Dhabi. Dubai is particularly keen to show international companies that it takes the protection of intellectual property seriously.
Until now, foreigners could only purchase properties in Dubai in
specially designated areas. In addition, Dubai allows English-style land
and condominiums to be leased for 99 years. Recently, permanent leases
have also become possible. Through the lease, the owner acquires a
residence permit for the duration of the term. However, this must be
extended every three years for around 1000 euros. However, this title
does not come with a work permit; a work visa is required. Nevertheless,
this option particularly attracts Pakistanis and Indians who use it to
purchase a second home. Since 2005, the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah has
also been offering foreigners ownership of land and real estate in
specially designated areas, such as Al Hamra Village. Other emirates are
planning similar changes.
However, most emirates still treat property rights registrations conservatively. Here too, Dubai is taking a pioneering role and passed Law No. 7 on property rights and land registry entries in March 2006. It currently only deals with the property rights of villas and townhouses. For apartments, such as those in The Greens or the Dubai Marina, there is still no uniform case law bindingly regulating registration in the land departments. The transfer of ownership is only possible via the master developers Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Properties, and discussions are also taking place about contributions for maintenance measures and general additional costs (maintenance, service fees, etc.). The government is striving for a quick agreement and settlement of the outstanding issues in order to be able to offer foreign property buyers the necessary legal certainty.
Problems in everyday working life arise from the underdeveloped legal
protection of employees (see above: labor law). If an employer changes
or an employment relationship is terminated within the first year of
employment, a non-objection certificate must be issued by the employer
who sees no concerns about the employee looking for a new job. If this
is not issued and the employer does not have to justify his decision, a
six-month work ban and, in some cases, a ban on entry into the UAE will
follow. This unbalanced employer law is often used against “ordinary”
employees from developing countries and enables blackmail over wage
issues and vacation entitlements at the end of the employment
relationship. For highly qualified employees, an individual employment
contract is usually concluded.
Due to the weak protection of employees, irregularities in the wage payments of low-earning workers regularly occur in the low-paid construction sector, where up to around 500,000 foreign workers are employed. However, these destitute workers have no choice but to continue working temporarily without pay, as otherwise they would no longer be able to provide for their families in their home countries without work that is well paid compared to their country of origin.
The average income in the low-wage sector in 2005 was:
Skilled workers: 750 to 1500 AED/month (around 190-375 euros)
Unskilled workers: 400 to 650 AED/month (around 100-160 euros)
Other: Between 2.50 and 6.50 AED/hour (around 0.50 – 1.60 euros)
It is common practice for employers to retain their workers' passports for the duration of their employment for security reasons. This serves, among other things, to prevent theft and fraud of employees' company property, as they can no longer easily leave the country. It also makes it more difficult for workers to move to better-paying jobs. At the beginning of 2005, this practice became publicly controversial. Among other things, the authorities also required employees who had to deal with money on business to retain their passports. This ultimately led to a legal ban (passports are personal travel documents) on keeping passports except when completing official procedures. Failure to do so can result in tens of thousands of dirhams being fined against the employer. Nevertheless, withholding passports from ordinary employees is still common practice.
Employees have the right to complain to local labor ministries in the event of problems with the employer. But due to the cumbersome bureaucracy, decisions sometimes take a very long time. Visa fraud has increased in recent years. Many interested parties from the Indian subcontinent were promised that they would be able to easily obtain a job and thus a residence permit in the UAE by paying very high fees. In almost all cases, it later turned out that they had been taken in by fraudsters. Since this procedure for obtaining visas also violates local laws, these incidents are rarely reported by those affected, which suggests that there is a high number of unreported cases of these frauds.
The postal system is in state hands. Letters and packages will not be
delivered but must be picked up from post office boxes. The annual fee
is at least 10 euros, depending on the size. Alternatively, you can have
the mail sent to a collection box at the nearest post office and then
pay 10 to 50 euro cents for a letter or package picked up.
According to Federal Law No. 1 of 1976, the state-owned Emirati Telecommunications Company was established: Etisalat. It had a monopoly on all telephone services until February 2006. Furthermore, Etisalat ensures the censorship of “harmful influences” on society via the Internet.
The government decided in spring 2005 that additional telephone and Internet service companies would be able to offer their services from the beginning of 2006, which should be the end of Etisalat's monopoly. Another telephone company – du – has been on the market since the beginning of 2007. However, this telephone company also belongs to the state or state-owned investment companies and was also set up by them. International companies such as Vodafone, which have tried several times to cover parts of the UAE, have still not received the relevant license.
In addition to the five Arabic-language and four English-language daily newspapers, there are various periodical publications with regional significance. Eight television stations (including the three major satellite channels al-Arabiya, Abu Dhabi TV and Dubai TV) and five radio stations shape the electronic media landscape. In 2020, almost all residents of the United Arab Emirates used the Internet.
The dissemination of information is subject to censorship in the UAE.
Before being sold, imported magazines must be presented to the
censorship authority, which then censors sexual characteristics depicted
in images with a black felt-tip pen. Media subjects themselves to
self-censorship, so that there are no violations of censorship laws by
newspaper publishers or radio stations. Local television is in state
Private individuals access the Internet via proxies that censor content. Officially, this is only intended to prevent access to pornographic material, but in fact many other sites that may violate Islamic culture are also blocked. For example, foreign sites that offer gambling (including lottery), cooking recipes that report on pork preparation, Israeli homepages (with the ending.il) and dating agencies. Even complete IP lists and areas of public “anonymizers” are constantly updated and are therefore not available. Educational institutions are exempt from the compulsory use of proxy servers.
Users of the du website have also been subject to censorship since April 14, 2008. Although the filtering is not quite as rigorous as Etisalat, all sites that have to do with pornography are blocked. The blocking is carried out by a content filter from the provider. Since summer 2008, Etisalat and du have been blocking VoIP applications (VoIP-to-landline). VoIP-to-VoIP calls are limited (Windows Messenger) while others no longer work. Skype-to-Skype is now also possible again.
The non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders assesses the situation of press freedom in the United Arab Emirates as “difficult”. A journalist (Tayseer Al-Najjar – cultural reporter al-Dar) is in custody in the United Arab Emirates.
The character of the UAE has changed dramatically in the 20th century
and particularly in recent decades: from small, homogenous pearl fishing
settlements on the coast and farming villages inland to a modern diverse
and multicultural society. This happened through labor migration, first
Persians in the early 20th century, then Indians and Pakistanis arrived
since the start of the oil boom in the 1960s. Finally, since the 1990s,
migrant workers have been attracted from all over the world.
Despite the great diversity of the population, there is very little ethnic tension or even conflict.
Since the major demographic changes are based on labor migration and are not immigration in the classic sense, they have only influenced the country's strongly Islamic culture in external ways, such as architecture. The local culture revolves primarily around Islamic rituals and Arab-Bedouin traditions. This influence can be seen in architecture, music, clothing, food and lifestyle. The call to prayer sounds five times a day across the country, from minarets to shopping center loudspeakers. The main holidays are Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan and National Day, which celebrates the founding of the UAE.
The particular socio-economic development in the UAE has made the country much more liberal than its neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran. Although Islam is the state religion, other religions are not only shown respect but are also given freedom to practice them. There are Christian churches, a synagogue, Hindu temples and a Gurudwara for Sikhs. The UAE also provides protection for groups that have been and are being persecuted elsewhere. The diversity of the population is reflected in a mosaic of schools, cultural centers and restaurants that are both Western European and Asian in character. Nevertheless, apostasy is punishable by death.
In the UAE there is no Islamic dress code like in Saudi Arabia. However, many Emiratis prefer the traditional kandura, an ankle-length white shirt made of cotton or wool; Many local women wear the abaya, a black outer garment that covers the body. Young people often follow western fashion trends. Foreigners wear their usual clothing.
The traditional Emirati food consists of rice, fish and meat. Many
courts were adopted by neighboring states, mainly Iran, Oman and Saudi
Seafood is a mainstay of local cuisine. Among meat dishes, lamb and sheep are preferred over goat and beef. Popular drinks are coffee and tea, to which cardamom, saffron or mint are often added for refinement.
Since Muslims are not allowed to eat pork, it is rarely offered in restaurants. Hotels and restaurants often have pork substitutes, such as: E.g. beef bacon, on offer. Alcohol is generally only served where the offer is aimed primarily at foreigners. It is completely banned in Sharjah. In supermarkets, pork and alcohol are available in sections specifically marked “For Non-Muslims Only”, the latter only with a license. Abu Dhabi abolished the alcohol licensing system in September 2020, and in this emirate alcohol has since been freely purchased and consumed in private households, hotels and clubs.
Traditional dishes of UAE:
Hariis (wheat and barley porridge with meat)
Lukaimat (sweet yeast dumplings)
Bathith (date balls)
Al-Madruba (salted fish with sauce)
Farid (meat and potato stew)
Raqaq (crusty bread)
The main form of UAE literature is poetry, which is part of the great
Arabic poetic tradition. The main themes are satire, chivalry, praise,
self-praise, patriotism, religion, family and love. Poems can be both
descriptive and narrative.
The style and form of ancient poetry was heavily influenced by the scholar Al-Chalil bin Ahmad, who worked in the Persian Gulf in the 8th century and wrote in 16 meter. The oldest known poet in the region of what is now the UAE is Ibn Majid, who was born between 1432 and 1437 in what is now Ras al-Khaimah. His oeuvre includes 40 compositions, 39 of which are verses.
Over the course of the 20th century, the local tradition came under Western influence, which was reflected in the development of prose literature.
The most important authors of the 20th century were Mubarak al-Uqaili (1880-1954), Salim bin Ali al-Uwais (1887-1959) and Ahmad bin Sulajim (1905-1976). Three other poets, all from Sharjah, were known as the "Hirah Group": Chalfan Musabah (1923-1946), Sheikh Saqr al-Qasimi (1925-1993; 1951-1965 ruler of Sharjah) and Sultan bin Ali al-Uwais (1925–2000).
The UAE is part of the Gulf tradition and is also known for the music
of the Bedouin people of the hinterland. “Liwa” is a type of music and
dance performed primarily in groups of East African descent. Many of the
traditional songs and dances have survived into modern times. The
dances, e.g. B. Khalij often involve young girls swaying to the beat and
swinging their long hair, and men re-enacting battles or successful
hunts through symbolic dance, often using sticks, swords and guns.
Many international stars regularly give concerts in the UAE. Large festivals, e.g. Some events, such as the Dubai Desert Rock Festival, attract guests from all over the region.
Due to the population structure, Western productions (mainly
Hollywood films) dominate. Films from Middle Eastern and South Asian
countries (Bollywood) are very popular among Arab and South Asian
residents, but are mostly consumed through TV channels or DVDs. All
films must be approved by the Ministry of Information and may be
censored for religious, erotic and political content. The film The
Passion of the Christ was specifically advertised as “not cut” at the
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has taken place every December since 2004. In October 2007, the first Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) was held in Abu Dhabi, which is also held annually.
Traditional vernacular construction was largely inspired by Islamic architecture and reflects the lifestyle and customs of the local population. The building materials were simple, but perfectly adapted to the climate. Tents that were easy to put up and take down provided shelter during the winter grazing season. The permanent buildings inland were built of dried mud bricks and thatched with palm leaves. In the coastal area, coral sticks were cut into blocks and held together with coquina. An important aspect when designing a house was the separation of privacy from a public space accessible to visitors, as well as the supply of cool air. Traditional houses therefore have wind towers, which are often built over pools of water and thus direct both cool breezes into the house and warm air out of the house.
Most emirates have their own museums of regional importance. Sharjah,
with its Heritage District, which houses 17 museums, has a prominent
position here, which was recognized by its election as Arab Capital of
Culture in 1998.
The Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi is an important forum for the presentation of foreign performing and visual arts. In Dubai, the Al Quoz district has become a hub for art galleries.
By establishing a cultural district on the island of Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi wants to establish itself as a world-class cultural location. So far, six world-class cultural projects are planned: the “Sheikh Zayed” National Museum (built by Foster + Partners), the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (built by Frank Gehry), an art museum in cooperation with the Louvre Abu Dhabi (built by Jean Nouvel), a Performing Arts Center (built by Zaha Hadid), a maritime museum (built by Tadao Ando) and a Biennale Park with 16 pavilions.
Dubai plans to build an Kunsthal museum and a district specifically for galleries and artists.
Outdoor leisure activities take place during the mild season (October
to April). Water sports (sailing, surfing, diving) and outdoor
activities (desert safaris, mountain hiking, camping) are popular.
Locals practice the traditional hobby of falconry in the Emirates. It
has become very popular, especially in the evenings, to stroll through
the large shopping centers (malls) and bazaars (souks).
Football is the most popular sport in the Emirates. The most important teams are Al Ain Club and Al-Ahli (coached by Winfried Schäfer until February 2007). Another German coach worked in the Emirates: Reinhard Fabisch looked after the Emirates Club from November 2005 to 2007. Horst Köppel and his assistant coach Lothar Sippel coached Al-Wahda from August to October 2006. Al Ain Club became the first AFC champions in 2003 -League, they came second in 2005. The Emirates national team was able to qualify for the 1990 World Cup and met the German national soccer team in the group phase. In 1996, the Emirates hosted the Asian Cup, and in 2003 the Men's Junior Football World Cup was held in the UAE. The 2013 U-17 Football World Cup took place in the Emirates in October and November 2013 and the Asian Football Championship took place again in 2019.
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates, thanks largely to immigrants from the cricketing nations of South Asia, the United Kingdom and Australia. Dubai is home to offices of the International Cricket Council, while its headquarters remain at London's Lord's Cricket Ground. The United Arab Emirates national cricket team has qualified for two Cricket World Cups and took part in the tournaments in 1996 and 2015. They also took part in the preliminary round of the T20 World Cup twice: in 2014 and 2022. In 2021, the United Arab Emirates, together with Oman, hosted an important cricket tournament for the first time, the T20 World Cup 2021. This was the first important cricket tournament to be held entirely in associated countries of the International Cricket Council took place. However, the United Arab Emirates national team failed to qualify for this tournament.
In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club has been hosting the Submission Wrestling World Championships since 1998.
In tennis, the first edition of the Dubai tennis tournament (for men and women) was held in 2003. Traditionally, horse and camel racing are also very popular.
The Emirates is also home to the world's largest horse racing track; Meydan Racecourse was completed on March 27, 2010 at a cost of over $2 billion. The “Dubai World Cup” has been held at the racetrack every year since 2010. With prize money of 30 million US dollars, it is the most expensive horse race in the world.
Since 2009, Formula 1 has held a Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi for an initial period of seven years. The FIFA Club World Cup took place in Abu Dhabi in 2009, 2010 and 2017.
Special Olympics United Arab Emirates was founded in 1990 and has participated in Special Olympics World Games several times. The association has announced its participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin. The delegation will be looked after by Marburg before the games as part of the Host Town Program.
The weekend in the UAE, previously Thursday–Friday, was moved to
Friday–Saturday from September 2006. All state and public institutions,
government facilities and private schools are bound to the new
regulation. The private sector partly followed the change and partly
retained the old weekend. The reason for the change was to increase the
overlap in working days between the non-Islamic world and the UAE from
three to four days.
Since January 1, 2022, Dubai has changed the weekend to Saturday and Sunday. This means that the emirate has adapted to most international countries.