The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven sheikhdoms located in the south-eastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Bordered by the Sultanate of Oman and the Gulf of Oman to the east, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and by the Arabian Gulf to the north, the total land area, including 20 islands, is 83,000 sq km (32,278 sq mi). The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. The capital and the largest city of the federation, Abu Dhabi, is located in the emirate of the same name.


The UAE has a population of around 9.2 million, but only 17% are local Emiratis, the rest are expatriates from around the world. Well known for its hospitality, tolerance and openness, visitors are attracted by the country’s award winning hotels, extensive shopping centres, sports facilities, white-sand beaches and mild winter climate. With a crime rate of nearly zero, the UAE is one of the safest countries in the world.

Capital: Abu Dhabi
President: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (ruler of Abu Dhabi)
Prime Minister: Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum (ruler of Dubaje)
Official Language: Arabic; English is widely spoken
Ethic groups: 16.6% Emirati, 23% other Arabs, 42% South Asian
Currency: Dirham (AED) – 1 dirham is divided into 100 Fils
Visa: Over 40 nationalities receive visas on arrival at the airport free of charge
Time: GMT +4
Alcohol: Served in most hotel restaurants (with exception of Sharjah); alcohol should not be consumed in public, outside of licensed hotels and there is a zero tolerance for drink-driving. Alcohol is not available in free-standing restaurants
Customs: Visitors may bring into the country for personal consumption 2 litres of alcohol (wine or spirits), 200 cigarettes, 200 gms cigars, 250 gms of tobacco duty free (varies according to nationality)
Dress Code: Light weight cotton clothing is appropriate year round, although a light jacket may be required during winter evenings, particularly in the desert. A jacket is recommended for inside shopping centres and hotels during the summer months due to the strong air conditioning. Out of respect, ladies should dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees when in public. Gentlemen should reserve string vests for the beach or gym.
Telecommunication: Excellent services – wireless internet connection in most hotels and restaurants ... telecommunications providers – Etisalat and du (both mobile operators with pre-paid cards available)
Religion: Islam; other religious beliefs are permitted to worship, without public display.
Ramadan: This is the month during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Most restaurants and fast food outlets are closed until sunset. Nightclubs, Bars and pubs do not serve alcohol during the day time throughout the month. Alcohol is generally served after 8pm. Everyone, regardless of their religion, is required to observe the fast in public. Children, pregnant women and those with medical conditions are exempt from fasting, but should not openly eat or drink.
Tipping: Not generally expected as most of the time a service charge is added to your bill. If you wish to reward good service, 10% is adequate.
Useful numbers: Police 999, Fire 997, Time Check 140, Ambulance 998, Directory Enquiries 181
Weekend: Friday, Saturday

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