The United Arab Emirates is a Middle East country that is located in between Saudi Arabia and Oman. It is in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. UAE has a total land area of 36,278 square miles. Saudi Arabia borders UAE in the west and south, Qatar borders it in the north and Oman to the west. The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven emirates bound by an official constitution. The seven emirates are also the seven Trucial states which are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaiman, Sharjah, Ajman, and Fujairah. They were brought together under one government on 2nd December, 1971. Abu Dhabi is the largest of them and it is also the official capital. It makes up 85% of the total land area of the country.
The smallest emirate is Ajman. The government of UAE consists of a president, prime minister and the seven emirates are each headed by emirs. The culture and tradition of the UAE is strongly structured on Islamic rules and laws. Almost all indigenes of the UAE are Muslim by religion; Islam is the national religion in the Arab land. Issues concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance, economics, politics, and personal conduct are governed by Sharia (Islamic) law. A majority of UAE Muslims are Sunnis and the minority sect is the Shi’a. There is a mixed population that consists of people from different cultures and religions; half of the population is made up of non-native Asians. The non-indigenous community is made up of 55% Muslims, 25% are Hindus by religion and the Christian population makes up 10% of the foreign population. (Britannica, 2012). The official capital of UAE is Abu Dhabi but the trade capital city is Dubai. National Day symbolizes one of the most successful experiments in unity in the modern Arab world. The main metaphor is that of the family, with the president referred to as a father. The colors of the national flag—green, red, white, and black—are shared with other Arab countries. Other cultural symbols are the falcon, camel, Arabian horse, pearling boat, coffeepot, and date palm.
They are used to invoke a historical community that survived harsh conditions and now enjoys the benefits of unity and prosperity. These emblems appear on banknotes, coins, and stamps. Before the 1960s, food consisted mainly of fish, rice, bread, dates, yogurt, homegrown vegetables, and meat from sheep, goats, and camels. The diet has improved in quality and variety, with modern supermarkets offering imported foods.Lunch is the main family meal and is eaten at home at around two o’clock. It usually consists of fish, rice, meat, and a vegetable dish. Many Emiratis prefer the traditional style of eating with the right hand. There are strict Muslim taboos against pork and alcohol, and meat must be slaughtered according to the Islamic halal method. Emiratis are known for their hospitality; they feel honored when receiving guests and socializing with friends and relatives. Guests are welcomed with coffee and fresh dates. Incense is passed around so that guests can catch the fragrance in their headwear. With the immigrant population have come restaurants offering a wide variety of ethnic foods, and fast-food restaurants have also become popular.
Things to see and do in United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi- The United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s most advancing regions, and its capital, Abu Dhabi, leads the charge, offering an ever-expanding repertoire of things to see and do. A land named after the Arabian gazelle (Dhabi), Abu Dhabi’s rate of development has been astonishing, accomplished with the speed of a gazelle . The 1958 discovery of oil marked the beginning of the swift transformation. Wise oil investments funded the development of the modern-day infrastructure, which was non-existent 50 years ago. Among top tourist spots in Abu Dhabi are Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, The Corniche, Al Hosn Palace (White Fort), Cultural Foundation, Women’s Craft Center, Al Ain National Museum, Al Ain Wildlife Park and the Ferrari World, the first ferrari theme park on the scenic Yas Island .
Ras Al Khaimah- Tucked away at the northern-most tip of the UAE, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah or RAK, was once a tiny fishing community — and while some travel books might still refer to it as a charming fishing village; they don’t paint the entire picture. This Emirate rewards visitors who venture to its shores, long stretches of pristine, sun-kissed beaches and spectacular views of the hazy Hajjar Mountains. It is also the gateway to Oman’s beautiful Musandam Peninsula. What RAK lacks in size it more than makes up for in ambition as the Emirate gears up to position itself as the UAE’s newest holiday hotspot, by investing millions into developing its tourism infrastructure with an impressive clutch of beautiful new hotels properties; exciting theme parks plus an expanding airline. Visitors to the Emirate can enjoy a wealth of outdoor activities — from swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing to mountain biking, rock climbing and golf as well as exploring the desert by safari and camping in traditional Bedouin style.
Fujairah- Nestled between the majestic Hajar Mountains, with long stretches of sandy coasts, the emirate of Fujairah is blessed with unspoilt natural beauty. The only Emirate that is almost entirely mountainous, Fujairah enjoys rich cultural traditions coupled with contemporary luxury. Known in the old ages as the ‘land of the sea giants’, some of the most important archaeological finds in the Gulf region has been made in this area. Excavations show that man’s presence in the region dates back to the Iron Age. Fujairah looks out over the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean, and has one of the richest marine environments on the planet. It is home to many exotic species of fish and the coral reefs off the coast of Fujairah offer divers and snorkelers the ultimate underwater experience. The town’s beautifully clean shell-covered beaches are an idyllic setting for sun worshippers in search of peace and relaxation. The rugged landscape also provides the perfect environment for a range of activities including wadi drives, desert safaris and mountain treks.
Abu Dhabi’s islands- The eight natural islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi include the spectacular Sir Bani Yas, home to the swanky Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa and around 30 free roaming Arabian and African animal species.
Al-Ain- Head east through spectacular scenery from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to the resort and former caravan stop of Al-Ain. The resort includes a camel market, zoo and museum containing old and new artefacts and Mesopotamian pottery. The lush oasis village also offers excellent hiking at nearby Jebel Hafeet.
Ancient Hatta- The ancient fortressed villages of Hatta and Wadi Hatta are close to Dubai, in a surprisingly lush and attractive valley in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. The area also has a number of naturally formed pools to cool off in.
Archaeological sites- Explore the important archaeological digs at Hili, 10km (6 miles) from Al Ain. The stone tombs, including the famous Great Sepulchre, date back 5,000 years. Al-Ain also includes a camel market, zoo and museum containing old and new artefacts and Mesopotamian pottery. There’s also offers excellent hiking at nearby Jebel Hafeet.
Bastakiya, Dubai- The historic Bastakiya alongside Dubai Creek is Dubai’s Bohemian quarter, with some wonderful cafés, and eclectic art galleries. It’s particularly pleasant during the evening when the mosques sound their call to prayer.
Beaches- The beaches offer white sand and warm, clear waters but in Dubai, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, the best are to be found at luxury hotels. You can pay a few dirhams to visit beaches with toilet facilities, such as Jumeirah Beach Park, Dubai, and Sandy Beach, Fujairah (for incredible snorkelling opportunities). Excellent beaches include JBR Beach, Jumeirah Open Beach (a favourite for surfers), and Kite Beach (a favourite for kite-surfers). Topless bathing is not permitted anywhere, but women are free to wear bikinis at the beach.
Deep-sea fishing- The waters of the Gulf are excellent fishing grounds. Fully-equipped boats with crew can be hired for deep-sea fishing trips from all marinas, via hotels and local tour companies.
Desert driving- you can enjoy Off-road driving in the desert is excellent for thrill-seekers. Vehicles are available for hire either with or without guides at nearly every hotel. Adventurous travelers can view the dunes by air, in a hot air balloon.
Dubai World Cup horse race- Go to the races at the annual Dubai World Cup, or learn more about the Arabs’ passion for horses at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club (www.adec-web.com) close to the UAE’s capital.
Iconic buildings-At more than 828m (2,716.5ft), Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (www.burjkhalifa.ae) is the tallest building in the world and if you reserve ahead you can visit the observation deck on Level 124. Tours of the sail-shaped Burj al-Arab or Abu Dhabi’s sprawling Emirates Palace hotel (reportedly the most expensive in the world) can also be arranged.
Mosques and forts- Don’t miss the many historic mosques and forts dotted around the older parts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, notably the incredible Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai. Non-Muslims are welcome to enter during certain visiting times, however women must cover their hair and body. Sheilas (head scarf) and abayas (traditional black dress for women) are available to borrow.
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