27 interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates

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The most interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates, from the world’s tallest buildings to “Robocop” policemen fighting crime.

Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates include its eye-catching cityscapes
Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates include its eye-catching skylines (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: United Arab Emirates
Population: 9,856,612
Area: 83,600 sq km
Capital city: Abu Dhabi
Major languages: Arabic, English
Major religions: Islam
Time zone: UTC+4 (UAE Standard Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates

1. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country in the Persian Gulf of the Middle East bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia.
– Source: Britannica

2. The UAE is a federation of seven independent city-states or emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah.
– Source: UAE Embassy

A map of the seven emirates of the UAE
The UAE is made up of seven emirates (Shutterstock)

3. Archaeological evidence suggests the UAE, along with the surrounding Arabian Peninsula, has been inhabited for around 125,000 years. Ancient tools discovered in the area suggest humans migrated through the region from Africa into Asia.
– Source: Nature

4. The UAE and Arabian Peninsula were colonised first by the Portuguese in 1498, then the Dutch from 1622, then the British from the 1720s.
– Source: UAE Government portal

Traditionally dressed Arabian men drinking tea
The UAE has been inhabited for around 125,000 years (Shutterstock)

5. The UAE formally gained independence from Britain on 2nd December 1971 initially with six emirates before Ras al-Khaymah joined the federation in 1972.
– Source: BBC News, CIA World Fact Book

6. The UAE’s flag has green, white and black horizontal stripes and one vertical red stripe. The flag features the four Pan-Arab colours which represent fertility (green), neutrality (white), petroleum resources (black) and unity (red).
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

The UAE's flag planted in a map of the Middle East
The UAE is located in the Middle East (Shutterstock)

7. The UAE has no permanent rivers or natural lakes. Instead, the country largely relies on rainwater falling in the Hajar Mountains that forms year-round water in wadis and underwater gorges.
– Source: WWF

8. In 2017, a robotic policeman joined Dubai’s police force. The “Robocop” helps identify wanted criminals and collect evidence. The Dubai Police says it wants the unarmed robots to make up 25% of its patrolling force by 2030.
– Source: Reuters

9. The UAE, particularly Dubai, is famous for its man-made islands. The most famous of which is Palm Jumeirah, an artificial, palm tree-shaped archipelago home to luxury hotels, beaches and approximately 80,000 people. Other artificial island projects include Yas Island in Abu Dhabi which is home to a Formula One race track.
– Source: CNN

An aerial view of Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai
Palm Jumeirah Island (Shutterstock)

10. In 2020, the UAE became the first Gulf state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. In the process, it also became the third Middle Eastern country, along with Egypt and Jordan, to recognise Israel.
– Source: The Economist, BBC News

11. Dubai is also home to the world’s first 3D-printed commercial building. The office, created with just one 3D printer, took 17 days to print and three months to assemble.
– Source: Guinness World Records

12. The world’s tallest building is in the UAE. Located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) measures 828m (2,716ft) tall.
– Source: Guinness World Records

The Burj Khalifa towering above other buildings in Dubai
The Burj Khalifa (Shutterstock)

13. In 2017 the UAE became the world’s first country to establish the post of Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The post was created to develop AI policies and best practices as well as to provide funding for AI projects.
– Source: UNESCO

14. The country’s capital city, Abu Dhabi means “father” and “gazelle” in Arabic. The name likely derives from the gazelles that used to live in the region along with a folk tale involving the “Father of the Gazelle,” Shakhbut bin Dhiyab al Nahyan, whose hunting party tracked a gazelle to a spring where the city was founded.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

15. The national symbol of the UAE is the falcon and falconry is a major pastime and tradition. A well-train falcon can fetch up to €100,000 ($110,000). There is even a falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi.
– Source: Britannica, Lonely Planet

A falcon and his trainer
A falcon and his trainer (Shutterstock)

16. The UAE has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates at just 1.4 total births per woman. In 2020, it was ranked 14th lowest in the world and the lowest in the Middle East.
– Source: World Bank

17. The city of Dubai in the UAE has its own cryptocurrency. emCash is a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that runs on its own blockchain and is designed for various financial transactions.
– Source: World Economic Forum

18. The opulent Burj Al Arab hotel is arguable the UAE’s most iconic building and was the world’s tallest hotel when it opened in 1999. The 321m (1,053ft)-high hotel boasts 60 floors and the white metal crosspieces at the top of the building (which can only be seen from the sea) form what is claimed to be the largest cross in the Middle East.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The Burj Al Arab hotel in the United Arab Emirates
The Burj Al Arab hotel (Shutterstock)

19. The UAE is home to the world’s longest driverless metro line. The Dubai Metro Red Line is 52.1km (32.37mi) long.
– Source: Guinness World Records

20. Dubai is considered to be among the most powerful cities in the world. The city was ranked 17th in the 2020 edition of the Global Power City Index.
– Source: Global Power City Index, Mori Memorial Foundation

21. The world’s farthest manmade leaning building is located in the UAE. The Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi has an inclination of 18° and is 160m (524ft) high. It leans at five times the angle of Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa and is known as the “Leaning Tower of the Middle East”.
– Source: Guinness World Records, CNN

The Capital Gate building in the United Arab Emirates
The Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi (Shutterstock)

22. The UAE’s economy is dominated by petroleum. Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the emirates, contains one of the largest concentrations of the world’s proven oil reserves.
– Source: Britannica

23. The UAE is the second richest country in the Middle East (behind Qatar) and the world’s eighth-richest when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP)
– Source: World Bank

24. The UAE is largely covered by the Arabian Desert. At 2,300,000 sq km (900,000 sq mi), it is the largest desert in Asia and the second largest on Earth. Only the Sahara in Africa is bigger.
– Source: Britannica

The Rubʿ al-Khali sand dunes at sunset
The Rubʿ al-Khali (Shutterstock)

25. The UAE also has a part of the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world. The Rubʿ al-Khali, which lies mostly within Saudi Arabia as well as Yemen, Oman and the UAE, covers an area of around 650,000 sq km (250,000 sq mi) and translates as “Empty Quarter”.
– Source: Britannica

26. Expatriates account for approximately 85% of the 5.3 million workforce in UAE.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

27. The UAE has some of the world’s highest CO2 emissions. When measured by metric tons per capita, the UAE ranks fifth globally at 22.94 metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita.
– Source: World Bank

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