United Arab Emirates Country Facts

Al Emarat
Capital city Abu Dhabi
Surface 83,600 km²
Population 9,890,000
Road network length 4,080 km
Length of highway network 1,545 km
First highway 1980
Motorway name الطريق السريع
Traffic drives Right
License plate code UAE

The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated UAE (Arabic: دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة ‎ Dawlat al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabīyyah al-Muttaḥidah) is a country in Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula. The country is a federation of 7 emirates and has almost 10 million inhabitants. The country is more than twice the size of the Netherlands in area and the capital is Abu Dhabi. The largest city is the more famous Dubai.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located on the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula, on the Persian Gulf. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the south and Oman to the east. The United Arab Emirates also has a short eastern coast on the Gulf of Oman, where there is also an exclave of Oman which in turn has an enclave of the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates measures a maximum of 500 kilometers from west to east and 400 kilometers from north to south.

In the Persian Gulf are a number of small islands, which are controlled and/or claimed by the United Arab Emirates, partly with disputes with Iran, which lies on the other side of the Persian Gulf. The country consists of two geographical areas, the flat desert in the west, center and south and the mountains in the east. The highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates is Jebel Jais, whose highest point is in Oman. The highest point in the United Arab Emirates is 1,892 meters above sea level. The mountains in the east of the country are difficult to access and little inhabited.

The United Arab Emirates has a desert climate with very little rainfall. There are hot summers and warm winters. In summer the temperatures are often around 45 °C for a long time, the average maximum temperature in Dubai varies from 24 °C in winter to 41 °C in summer. In the mountains the temperatures are often at a more pleasant level. Snow was first observed here in 2004. There is an average of 350 mm of precipitation in the mountains but only 100 mm in the lowlands. There are sporadic dust storms.

Administrative division

Emirate Population surface
Abu Dhabi 1,678,000 67,340 km²
ajman 258,000 259 km²
Dubai 2,502,715 3,885 km²
fujairah 127,000 1,165 km²
Ras al-Khaimah 205,000 1,684 km²
sharjah 678,000 2,590 km²
Umm al-Quwain 68,000 777 km²

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is by far the largest in area, but Dubai has the most inhabitants.


The population of the United Arab Emirates has grown rapidly in the second half of the 20th century. In the early 1960s, the country had less than 100,000 inhabitants, around 1990 the limit of 2 million inhabitants was reached, which 15 years later had already doubled to 4 million and just after 2010 exceeded the limit of 9 million inhabitants. However, due to the economic crisis, population growth declined sharply after 2010.

The vast majority of the population is made up of labor migrants and expatriates, who made up 88.5% of the population in 2018. Only 1.4 million inhabitants have UAE nationality. There are many migrant workers from South Asia and the Philippines. The country is also popular among western expats.

The national language of the United Arab Emirates is Arabic, but English is the lingua franca in the country, knowledge of English is essential for migrant workers.


Since independence, the size of the economy has grown by a factor of 230. Originally, the economy was almost exclusively focused on oil exports, but efforts have been made to make the economy more diverse, especially in Dubai. Abu Dhabi is still very oil oriented. Dubai’s economy is heavily tourism-oriented and has also developed large-scale infrastructure to facilitate it. However, apart from Dubai, the country’s economy is still largely oil-driven. The construction sector is also very important, especially in the period 2000-2010 many highways, airports, ports, artificial islands and skyscrapers were built, most in Dubai but also in other emirates.

The United Arab Emirates has a very highly developed economy, with a nominal income of $41,000 per capita and $70,000 in terms of purchasing power. However, the level of prosperity differs greatly, Emiratis and expats are prosperous, but migrant workers have to survive on low wages and poor working conditions. The Emiratis themselves almost all work directly for the government or for a state-owned company.


Several nomadic groups and traders have inhabited the region since ancient times. In the 19th century, pirates were a problem for European traders, especially the Portuguese and British. In 1819 the area became a British protectorate. The economy of the region at the time was based on pearl fishing. Oil was first sought off the coast of the area in the 1930s, but it was not until 1962 that oil was exported. Inland oil extraction has sparked border disputes with Saudi Arabia, particularly in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The country became independent from the United Kingdom in 1971, originally as a federation of six emirates, from 1972 the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah also joined the United Arab Emirates.

After independence, the oil industry continued to develop, eventually accounting for about 90% of the country’s economy. After 2000, efforts were made to make the economy more diverse, Dubai in particular was successful in this, with a huge program of construction of new skyscrapers, roads and airports. In 2010, the Burj Khalifa was completed, at 828 meters the tallest building in the world. The great prosperity and economic power ensured that the country could build its own army. The Emirates first participated in an international conflict in Libya in 2011. In 2015, the country took part in the Saudi intervention in Yemen. After 2010, the United Arab Emirates became one of the largest arms importers in the world. Several western countries have military bases in the United Arab Emirates.


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