The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates. The Constitution of the UAE provides for five federal authorities. They are:
- The Supreme Council
- The President and the Vice-President
- The Cabinet
- The Federal National Council
- The Federal Judiciary.
The UAE follows a moderate foreign policy that reinforces balanced relationships with the international community. It adheres to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and the pursuit of dialogue, and whenever possible peaceful resolution of disputes, together with support for international institutions, such as the United Nations. The UAE is a leading player in the global campaign against human trafficking, terrorism and in maintaining human rights.
The UAE supports developmental, humanitarian and charitable programmes in a number of developing countries. In 2018, the assistance reached AED 28.62 billion (USD 7.79 billion). In terms of official development assistance (ODA), since 2012, the UAE has contributed in excess of 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income, a target set by the United Nations for all countries. In 2018, the UAE contributed 0.93 per cent of its GNI. Read the UAE’s annual foreign aid reports.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic. Positioned as a global commercial hub and top tourist destination, English is widely spoken. All road and traffic signs and signs on commercial outlets are in Arabic and English.
Islam is the official religion in the UAE; practice of other religions is allowed. Besides mosques, the UAE is also home to several churches and temples where worshipers practise their religions in an atmosphere of safety, security and mutual respect.
The UAE is located in Asia. It is situated in the southeastern region of the Asian continent, and in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. It overlooks the Arabian Gulf on the north and northwest, borders the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and south and the Sultanate of Oman to the southeast.
The UAE area is approximately 71,023.6sq km of land, including some islands in the Arab Gulf, in addition to 27,624.9sq km of territorial water. Abu Dhabi accounts for 84 per cent of the country's total landmass.
The UAE is situated at:
Longitude: 51° 35’ - 57°10’ east
Latitude: 22°35’ - 26°25’ north
The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT.
The UAE maintains a desert climate. It is warm and sunny in the winter and during the summer, it is hot and humid. It is generally cooler in the eastern mountains.
The Emirati Dirham is the official currency of the UAE, abbreviated officially as AED. Unofficial abbreviations include Dh and Dhs.
The dirham is divided into 100 fils.
Coins are in the following denomination: AED 1, 50 fils and 25 fils.
Notes or bills are in the denomination of AED 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.
Since February 2002, the Arab Emirati Dirham (AED) is pegged to the US dollar (USD). 1 USD = AED 3.6725.
The flag comprises three equal horizontal lines with green at the top, white in the middle and black at the base. There is also a wider vertical red ribbon in the direction of the flagpole.
Green represents hope, joy, optimism and love. It can also symbolise the country's prosperity.
White represents peace and honesty. White is the purest colour, and is interpreted by some to symbolise cleanliness.
Black stands for the defeat of enemies and also strength of mind.
Red represents hardiness, bravery, strength and courage. The vertical red band can also be interpreted as binding all the other meanings together in unity.
Coat of arms
The UAE's new coat of arms displays the UAE flag surrounded by seven stars, representing the seven emirates. The falcon is also shown holding a parchment in its talons which reads 'United Arab Emirates' in Arabic.
UAE Nation Brand
In 2020, the UAE adopted the ‘7 Lines’ design as its logo for the next 50 years. The logo represents the seven emirates and the seven founding fathers, and complements the slogan ‘Make it Happen’. This logo is to represent the UAE in all its initiatives and events and convey its story to the world.
Diplomatic missions in the world
Foreign representation in the UAE
Nearly 100 foreign embassies are located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and Dubai is home to almost 80 consulates. Consulates are found in major cities outside of a country’s capital and handle minor diplomatic matters like issuing visas. Embassies and consulates are usually open Sunday to Thursday (the UAE work-week) and are closed on Fridays, on all UAE public holidays, and the public holiday of the embassy's home country. Opening times vary depending on embassy and purpose of visit. So arrive early or book an appointment as most operate some sort of queuing system, especially for visa applications.
All UAE citizens in the seven emirates carry the unified nationality of the UAE, which is recognised internationally. The demonym is Emirati.
According to Arton Capital's Passport Index, the UAE passport held the 1st position globally since the 1st of December 2018 until the early 2020 before the spread of COVID-19. At that time, a holder of the UAE’s passport could travel to 178 countries; 118 destinations offered visa-free travel and 60 offered eVisa or visa on arrival at the airport.
According to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, the UAE's total population (nationals and expatriate residents) was 9,304,277 in 2017, as compared to 9,121,167 in 2016. Males outnumber females.
- There were 6,415,942 males in 2017, as compared to 6,298,294 in 2016.
- There were 2,888,335 females in 2017, as compared to 2,822,873 in 2016.
There are more than 200 nationalities living and working in the UAE. The expatriate community outnumbers the population of UAE nationals.
Indians form the largest foreign community in the UAE, followed by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, other Asians, Europeans and Africans.
UAE nationals as of 2010 (estimate)
Total UAE nationals: 947,997
Non-nationals in the UAE as of 2010 (estimate)
Total non-nationals: 7,316,073
Male non-nationals: 5,682,711
Female non-nationals: 1,633,362
The literacy rate in the UAE is close to 95 per cent.
According to Human Development Report (PDF, 300 KB), issued by the UNDP in 2019, life expectancy in the UAE is 77.8 years.
According to Annual Economic Report 2019 (PDF, 18.5 MB), GDP at constant prices was AED 1,442.5 billion, while GDP at current prices was AED 1,521.1 billion in 2018.
Imports and exports
The non-oil foreign trade (direct trade and free zones) amounted to 1.536 trillion dirhams during 2018. The breakup is as follows:
Imports: 898.5 billion dirham
Non-oil exports: 206 billion dirham
Re-exports: 431.55 billion dirham.
Source: Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.
1 January to 31 December
The UAE Cabinet approved a zero-deficit federal budget of AED 61.354 billion for the year 2020. This is the largest budget allocated since the establishment of the UAE. The budget is distributed amongst various sectors related to Emirati citizens and their services. 31% is allocated to social development, 14% to infrastructure and economic resources, 6.5% to social benefits, and 32.6% to government affairs.
The UAE's inflation rate was 3.1 per cent in 2018.
Consumer price index
As of November 2019, the UAE's consumer price index reached 108.48.
The UAE does not levy income tax on individuals. However, oil companies and branches of foreign banks are liable to pay taxes. In addition, the UAE levies 5 per cent Value Added Tax on the consumption or use of goods and services.
Natural resources and energy
Oil and gas
The UAE holds 6.7% of the world's proven oil reserves estimated at 97.8 billion barrels and 3.5% of proven gas reserves, equal to 6091 billion cubic metres.
Source: Annual Statistical Report 2018- OAPEC
The UAE is ranked as the 6th largest proved reserves of both oil and natural gas globally.
Source: WAM (Arabic)
Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 AMPs plugs of British standard design are the norm. Appliances have two-pin plugs attached.
In 2017, the total installed capacity of electricity in the UAE reached 30371 megawatts (MW), which utilises natural gas.
Source: Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
The installed capacity for desalinated and groundwater reached 1,658 million imperial gallons per day, while the production of desalinated water was 435,387 million imperial gallons per year as of 2017.
Source: Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
Tap water produced by desalination is safe to drink; however, bottled water is preferred by most residents and tourists and priced reasonably in general.
In 2017 installed capacity of renewable energy plants in the UAE amounted to 325 MW.
The UAE adopted a nuclear programme for production of electricity. Four reactors are being built at the nuclear power plant in Baraka in the Western Region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Upon the completion of this programme, a production capacity of up to 5600MW will be added to the national grid by 2020.
Government and semi-government offices operate from Sunday to Thursday.
Some private companies are closed only on Fridays while others are closed on both Fridays and Saturdays.
UAE National Day
It falls on 2 December and marks the UAE's formal nationalisation and the start of the federal unification of the emirates in 1971.
The UAE marks its Commemoration Day on 30 November. It recognises the sacrifices and dedication of the sons of the nation, who have given their lives in the UAE and abroad in the field of civil, military and humanitarian service. The Public holiday for Commemoration Day is on 1 December as per UAE's Cabinet decision for the national holidays in public and private sectors in 2019-2020.
Other public holidays are:
- Gregorian New Year
- Eid Al Fitr
- Arafah day and Eid Al Adha
- Hijri New Year
- The Prophet's Mohammed birthday
International dialling code: +971
The dialling codes for the emirates/cities are:
- 02 for the emirate of Abu Dhabi
- 03 for Al Ain city in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
- 04 for the emirate of Dubai
- 06 for the emirates of Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain
- 07 for the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
- 09 for the emirate of Fujairah and city of Khor Fakkan.
Telephones - fixed lines
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 2,328,781 fixed lines with an average of 26.2 lines per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 18,999,237 active mobile subscriptions with an average of 213.8 mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
The top-level domain is .ae.
According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there were 3,016,318 broadband internet subscribers with an average of 33.94 broadband internet subscriptions per 100 inhabitants as of August 2019.
TV and radio
TV channels and radio stations are owned by government and private companies; both local and international.
Content is offered mainly in Arabic and English. Other languages of broadcast include Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tagalog and Farsi.
The number of TV and radio stations:
Emirates News Agency (WAM) is the official UAE news agency of the UAE Government. It publishes news in multiple languages.
Major airports in the UAE
Motorists drive on the right hand side of the road.
The emirate of Dubai levies a toll (salik) of AED 4 when vehicles pass through the toll gates.
In Abu Dhabi, a toll of AED 4 is levied on every vehicle passing the toll gate during peak hours from 7 to 9 am and from 5 to 7 pm from Saturday to Thursday.
E11 - it is the longest road in the UAE. It stretches from Al Silah in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to the boundary of Ras Al Khaimah.
It has various alternate names: Sheikh Maktoum Road in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai and Sheikh Muhammad bin Salem Road in Ras Al Khaimah.
E311 or Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, which was known as Emirates road - the road links Dubai to the rest of the emirates.
E611 or Emirates Bypass road - it has a length of 110km.
Sheikh Khalifa highway - it links Dubai and Fujairah.
According to the World Shipping Council, one of the world's top 50 container ports is in the UAE.
The UAE has several seaports. Some of the major ports are: