TOP-50 interesting facts about the UAE and Emirati people
The UAE is a country on the Arabian Peninsula that shares many similarities with its neighbours. But at the same time, it is a unique country with its own distinctive features and flavour. We have gathered 50 interesting facts about the country and its people that will help you create a first impression and plan your holiday in the Emirates in a fun way.
50 most interesting facts about the UAE and Emirati people
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
Facts of History
1. The land on which the United Arab Emirates now stands was inhabited in ancient times. Some 150 thousand years old human settlements have been found here.
2. In VII century these lands became part of the Arab Caliphate that brought Islam to the country. At the same time, the first cities were founded in place of present-day Dubai and Sharjah.
3. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive here at the end of the 15th century. They established their colonies and traded with the local population.
4. The Great Britain established its protectorate in the XIXth century. British troops were brought in and military bases established.
5. However, the local population actively struggled against foreign dependence and already in 1833 the Maktum dynasty declared the independence of Dubai. This dynasty rules the emirate to this day.
6. The Emirates became truly independent in 1971, when the establishment of the UAE was announced. It then comprised six emirates.
7. Oil fields were discovered in the 1920s. But their development began after 1950, when the flow of foreign investments rushed into the country.
8. Before oil production began, the country’s inhabitants made their living mainly by fishing for pearls.
9. The modern UAE is a federal union of seven absolute monarchies, the Emirates. The largest is Abu Dhabi, the smallest is Ajman. But the richest is considered to be Dubai.
10. the emirates are now a multi-ethnic country. There are immigrants from many Asian and African countries. Out of a total population of 10 million, the indigenous population, the Arabs, account for only 1 million.
11. Half the population of the United Arab Emirates is fluent in English, which is the official language of India, from where more than half of the current Emirati population came.
12. The only country in the region with which the UAE still has no relations is Israel. The UAE does not recognise the statehood of Israel, and residents of this Jewish state cannot enter the Emirates.
13. In the UAE, the safety of the population and tourists is paramount. There are hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras in Dubai alone watching every step the residents take.
14. All strikes are officially banned in the Emirates. When immigrant workers tried to go on strike, they were immediately deported.
15. The Emirates is the only country in the world to have a Ministry of Happiness. Artificial intelligence calculates the happiness index of the population, and the ministry develops programmes to increase it.
16. The government in the UAE gives newlyweds a house and a $20,000 allowance. And the birth grant for a son is 50 thousand dollars.
17. Only immigrants work in the country. The native population either run businesses, work for the government, or just enjoy doing nothing.
18. The Burj Khalifa skyscraper is referred to by many as Dubai’s main attraction. It is the tallest building in the world, and its record height of 828 meters cannot be beaten for two decades.
19. Equally, recognisable is the Sail Hotel or Burj al Arab. It is not as tall, at just 321 metres, but its position in the sea on an artificial island makes the hotel look like a boat gliding over the waves.
20. The artificial islands that are being built in the Persian Gulf are also a symbol of the Emirates. They are the Palm Islands group and the Peace Archipelago.
21. The largest and most unusual museum in the Emirates is the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. This museum displays works of art by the great masters of the past, which are loaned to it by other galleries around the world. But it is famous for its unusual architecture. Inside the museum there is a lot of water and open space.
22. Camel racing in the country is not considered entertainment but a sport. In some races, the camels are not driven by human jockeys but by robots.
23. The Dubai Metro is the longest automatic metro in the world. It is 52 kilometres long and the trains have no drivers. Only 4 metro stations out of 29 are underground.
24. The Emirates is famous for its amusement parks. It has the world’s biggest indoor theme park – Ferrari World. Its area is 86 thousand square meters.
25. The country’s attraction is the first artificial ski resort, Ski Dubai, in the Middle East. There are ski slopes of varying difficulty levels, freestyle and sledging areas, an ice cave.
26. Dubai is home to the largest zoo in the region, Safari Park. It is divided into five themed areas featuring 3,000 animal species. Some of them are even exotic, such as the Komodo ram.
Character and customs of the Emirati people
27. The majority of the population is Muslim and Muslim laws are respected and enforced. This imposes restrictions on the behaviour of incoming tourists, for example on drinking alcohol or streaming through the streets in revealing clothing.
28. It is also not customary to kiss, hug or simply hold hands in the streets.
29. There are places in all cities where only women may enter. These are special recreational areas, pink underground cars, and so on.
30. Foreign women are only allowed to wear swimming costumes on the beaches.
31. Local women, on the other hand, often wear modern Western brands under their traditional closed black clothes.
32. Emirati people are respectful of other people’s beliefs. There are large communities of Buddhists and Hindus, Christian festivals are celebrated here and in 2011 Sharjah built its first Orthodox church.
33. However, there are no Christian cemeteries in the country. Therefore, the relatives of a deceased non-Christian are given the choice of burying the deceased in a Muslim cemetery or taking the body back to their own country.
34. Residents of the UAE love to flaunt luxury and wealth. They are very fond of gold. There are even street vending machines selling gold bars in Dubai. The average UAE resident buys 15 kilograms of gold a year.
35. A flat is not considered a dwelling by residents. It is considered additional space, and the main role is played by a private house.
36. The Emiratis consider it important that their house is not like their neighbour’s. So they invite in architects and try to outdo the originality of everyone in the neighbourhood.
37. It is not customary in the Emirates to keep cats and dogs at home. It’s not strictly forbidden, but there are no dog friendly areas and if a dog licks a plate, the dishes must be washed seven times according to the Emirati custom.
38. It is still customary in the country that young people who want to get married are introduced by their parents. Nowadays, though, the norms have become looser and a woman’s opinion on her impending marriage is taken into account.
39. The UAE has the highest divorce rate in the Arab world. In recent years, there have been 40 divorces for every 100 marriages.
40. After a divorce, the children almost always remain with their father’s family. The only exception is for very young children, until they grow up.
41. The UAE allows polygamy, but only if the husband is able to support his second wife in the same conditions as the first one. Therefore, the number of Emiratis who have two or more wives is small. Only a sheikh can have up to 20 wives.
42. The Emirates do not have their own national cuisine. The gastronomic traditions of the country are borrowed from the neighbours and most of them come from Lebanon. The most popular dishes are shawarma, kebab, and lamb baked with wheat, al-Kharris.
43. When interacting with locals, you should bear in mind that pointing with your finger is considered improper here. You may only point at something with the palm of your hand.
44. The left hand is considered unclean in the Emirates, so only the right hand should be used to take, give, give or eat something.
45. There are no natural reservoirs, rivers or lakes in the country. But after heavy rains, dry channels fill up with water, which are called wadis here.
46. Much of the UAE is occupied by the Rub al-Khali Desert, which is also located in Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is the largest sandy desert in the world, known for its orange and red coloured sands. Feldspar crystals give the sand its red colour.
47. The main feature of the UAE climate is sandstorms. They occur year-round, and are caused by the northwestern wind, Shamal.
48. Within the Emirates, there are mountains only along the coast of the Gulf of Oman. The highest point is Yibir, which is 1934 metres above sea level.
49. The fauna of the UAE is not very varied. The one-humped camel, the Arabian leopard and the Oryx antelope are considered to be unique symbols of the country.
50. There are a lot of poisonous animals in the Emirates. These are not only the well-known snakes, scorpions and jellyfish. Even an ant can be poisonous here. A bite from a Samsun ant can cause a severe allergic reaction and even death.
Friends! If you know any other interesting facts about the Emirates, please share them in the comments. It’s a country full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn more. We would be very grateful!