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The United Arab Emirates (Arabic: دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة‎ Dawlat al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabiyyah al-Muttaḥidah) is a West Asian federation of seven emirates on the Persian Gulf. "Emir" is Arabic for "prince", so these emirates are basically principalities. The only parallel in the modern world of a federation of monarchies is Malaysia (although for historical reasons not every state in Malaysia is headed by a monarch), but the Malaysian sultans are ceremonial, whereas the Emirati emirs still hold a lot of powers. It is not a democracy, but slight moves have been made in that direction.

From 1820 to 1971, it was a British colony called the Trucial States. Up to 1947, it was an administrative division of The Raj and used rupees minted in India as its currency until as late as 1966.

A country with twice as many men as women due to the influx of guest workers, it is a major oil producing state and acquiring further wealth all the time. It has the 5th highest GDP per capita and the 3th highest HDI in Asia.

The country has a population of 9.3 million. However, Emirati nationals only account for 13% of them, i.e. 1.2 million. The rest is made up by foreign expatriates, chiefly economic migrants from the Indian subcontinent; taken together, they constitute more than half of the population and outnumber Emiratis by four to one. Other expatriate communities came from Southeast Asia, other Arab countries, and Africa. This migrant-outnumbering-citizen situation happens in other Persian Gulf countries too, but nowhere is this as pronounced as in the UAE. Among the foreigners, Indians make up the biggest expatriate community at 2.7 million. Indians became widely recruited by the Emirati government since The '80s, when worldwide Islamism started gaining ground; being mainly Hindus, they were perceived as politically passive and could be counted on not to make trouble. That said, the majority of the expatriate community is still Muslim by religion.

Like other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, citizens experience a highly luxurious life. This includes a very cushy welfare state, free healthcare, and free education up to the Doctorate level. Even the large welfare states of northern Europe seem threadbare and stingy in comparison to that provided in the UAE. Not so great is the fact that all this luxury is mostly built on the backs of the country's vast population of non-citizen guest workers, most of whom are criminally underpaid and emphatically not supported by the welfare state. Also, the existence of this welfare state does not translate into upward mobility - wealth inequality is very high, with the Emirs, their relatives and people directly connected to them living lives of wealth and luxury, while the rest of the citizens actually live economically precarious lives, being kept out of poverty only due to the generous welfare benefits. The country’s entire middle class consists of foreign professionals with college degrees.

The UAE is close to the US and bought F-16s from them in 1999, and many ships of the United States Fifth Fleet are based in the UAE. It provided troops to the UN coalition in The Gulf War (1991). It used to align its foreign policy with Saudi Arabia, the most influential member of the GCC, but this seems to have changed in recent years. The UAE still maintains a relationship with Iran in spite of the GCC's boycott, as Iran is a valuable trade partner, and it also backs a different faction of the Yemeni civil war. In 2020, it became the first Gulf country to normalize relations with Israel, with trade relations set up and ambassadors expected to be exchanged soon, contrary to Saudi wishes for relations to be established after a definite solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is found.note 

Camel racing is popular and the place is attracting motorsport too. The country is a popular tourist destination, with tens of millions of people visiting the country annually. This has resulted in a bit of a culture clash between the covered-up, teetotal locals and the scantily-clad, beer-drinking tourists. Homosexuality and adultery are against the law.

The Emirates

The UAE is divided into seven emirates. Except for Abu Dhabi and Umm al-Quwain, all of the emirates' territories are discontinuous, with exclaves and enclaves dotting the northeastern region. This dates back to the tribal politics of age old, when clans had to race against time and each other to grab as many fertile grazing areas as they could. Sharjah is the worst about this, but the others are not much better. Part of the reason the emirates decided to merge in 1971 was to prevent the (potentially catastrophic) result of this agreement.

Each emirs elect two of their own to become President and Prime Minister every 5 years. By convention, the President is always the Emir of Abu Dhabi, while the Prime Minister is always the Emir of Dubai.

  • Abu Dhabi — The largest and most populous of the seven, constituting about 87% of the land area and over 25% of the national population. Its eponymous capital is the second most-populous city in the UAE as well as its capital. Since 2022, the Emir is Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
  • Ajman — The smallest emirate in size and a primarily agricultural area, with 95% of its population living in the eponymous capital. Since 1981, the Emir is Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi III.
  • Dubai — Home to the largest city in the UAE and the world's tallest skyscraper, as well as the financial center in the region. (In)famous for being a glitzy capital of the ultrarich, Dubai isn't actually the country's richest emirate, and nearly defaulted during the 2008 global financial crisis before Abu Dhabi (the actual richest emirate) had to roll over its $20 billion debt. Since 2006, the Emir is Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
  • Fujairah — The very last of the seven emirates to go under British protection in 1902. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the only emirate facing the Gulf of Oman. It is home to Al Badiyah Mosque, the oldest in the country. Since 1974, the Emir is Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.
  • Ras al-Khaimah — Originally not part of the UAE, it requested to join the union three weeks after the other six had merged, as a result it is not signatory to the Constitution. Home to some of the oldest archaeological sites in the UAE, some dating back 5,000 years. Since 2010, the Emir is Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
  • Sharjah — Has many universities that attract students from around the UAE and the region, mostly located in the appropriately-named "University City" complex on the border with Dubai. It is also famous for having the only international quality cricket stadium in the entire Mideast, which hosts an international one-day cricket tournament every year. The Sharjah Cricket Ground hosted the entire Indian Premiere League T-20 cricket tournament and the T-20 Cricket World Cup in 2021. It has an exclave facing the Gulf of Oman, as well as an enclave within Oman, within the UAEnote . Since 1972, the Emir is Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi.
  • Umm al-Quwain — The least populous of the seven emirates. Since 2009, the Emir is Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla.

The UAE and its residents in fiction

  • Abu Dhabi was popularized in the comic strip Garfield and the subsequent television show being the place where Garfield was always trying to mail Nermal. One episode featured a musical number about the city.
    Abu Dhabi, it's far away
    Abu Dhabi, that's where you'll stay
    Abu Dhabi, the place to be
    For any kitten who's annoying me, yeah!
  • Arab Mythology
  • The second Sex and the City movie is partly set in Abu Dhabi, but filmed in Morocco, as the government didn't like the script.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
  • Furious 7 sees the gang visit Abu Dhabi to retake the God's Eye, which is hidden in a property of a prince of Jordan.
  • The fifth iteration of the Street Fighter series features an Arab fighter, Rashid, who is ostensibly an Emiratinote  and dressed accordingly in a completely white dishdash and keffiyeh. His home-stage takes place on the wings of his own private jet as it flies around the city-scape of Dubai and several iconic buildings feature in the flyby, including the Burj Khalifa and the Emirates Towers.
  • The horror movie Djinn mostly takes places in the UAE, and features both spoken English and Arabic.
  • The tutorial section of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is set in an abandoned wrecked Dubai skyscraper that Adam Jensen must infiltrate into and rescue an undercover Interpol Special Agent.

The Emirati flag
The flag uses the very familiar Pan-Arab colors, arranged as green, white and black horizontal stripes with a red vertical stripe on the hoist; all colors symbolize Arab unity.

The Emirati national anthem

عيشي بلادي عاش اتحاد إماراتنا
عشت لشعب دينه الإسلام هديه القرآن
حصنتك باسم الله يا وطن
بلادي بلادي بلادي بلادي
حماك الإله شرور الزمان
أقسمنا أن نبني نعمل
نعمل نخلص نعمل نخلص
مهما عشنا نخلص نخلص
دام الأمان وعاش العلم يا إماراتنا
رمز العروبة
كلنا نفديكِ بالدماء نرويكِ
نفديك بالأرواح يا وطن

Long live my country, the unity of our Emirates lives.
You have lived for a nation whose religion is Islam and guide is the Qur'an.
I made you stronger in God's name—oh, homeland!
My country, my country, my country, my country.
Allah has protected you from the evils of the time.
We have sworn to build and work –
work sincerely, work sincerely!
As long as we live, we will be sincere.
The safety has lasted and the flag has lived—oh, our Emirates!
The symbol of Arabism:
We all sacrifice for you and give you our blood;
We sacrifice for you with our souls—oh, homeland!

  • Federal Islamic parliamentary elective semi-constitutional monarchy
    • President: Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
    • Prime Minister & Vice President: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Largest city: Dubai
  • Population: 9,890,400
  • Area: 83,600 km² (32,300 sq mi) (114th)
  • Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham (د.إ) (AED)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: AE
  • Country calling code: 971
  • Highest point: Jabal al-Jais (1910 m/6,266 ft) (131st)
  • Lowest points: Arabian Gulfnote /Persian Gulf (90 m/300 ft) (-) and Gulf of Oman (3,700 m/12,100 ft) (-)

Alternative Title(s): The United Arab Emirates, UAE