Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where in the world is... the United Arab Emirates?

In light of the Olympic games starting this week, I thought it'd be fun to research some of the countries participating that I know little to nothing about. Today's spotlight will be on the United Arab Emirates!

According to Wikipedia, UAE is a federation of 7 emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Am I the only one that didn't realize these places were in the same country? I've heard of them both but never put that together. Anyway...

UAE is in the Middle East, nestled in next to Saudi Arabia and Oman.


A Brief History Lesson... 7000 Years Consolidated into One Paragraph

Apparently people have lived in this region since about 5000 BC. That's... a LONG time!! Foreign trade by caravan and by seafaring has always been huge for them, and by the first century AD, they were exporting pearls as far away as China. Around 630 AD, Muslim prophets came to this region and the country became mostly Islamic (and still is, to this day). Portugal and Great Britain ruled them throughout the 16th-19th centuries AD, but they now rule themselves. The pearl industry eventually faded away after the Second World War, and their main export business is currently in oil.

Bani Yas Island

A desert on the outskirts of Dubai

Other Things You Might Like to Know about the United Arab Emirates

The current president of UAE, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
From what I can understand, UAE is a presidential system of monarchies... or something like that... Wikipedia explains it better. Basically each of the 7 emirates has a hereditary monarchy (like England does... each king is born into the job). Then there's a president and prime minister who run the country as a whole. The system has it's roots in the tribal history of the area. There are around 8 million people living there now, 80% of which are non-citizen workers (mainly coming from Southern Asia: India, Pakistan, Thailand, etc).

The main language there is Arabic, with a large emphasis on learning English as a second language in school. Unemployment is low and literacy rates and health care are high in UAE, although they do have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Overall though, they're a very rich nation, with Dubai being the richest city in Western Asia. They are quite a modern society, although they have very ancient, multi-cultural roots, largely because of the trade routes that they've had going through there for millennia. As a Muslim nation, they also take a lot of cultural and holiday cues from the Islam religion.

Rice, fish, lamb, and mutton are staples of food in UAE. Coffee and tea are popular, especially when flavored with cardamom, saffron, or mint. The main crops grown there are date palm, acacia trees, and eucalyptus trees. Native animals include the Arabian oryx and the leopard, as well as coastal mammals like tuna, sharks, and whales.

Tradition Emirate tea

Leopard

Oryx

Football (or soccer, as we like to call it) and cricket are the most popular sports in UAE, largely due to the high number of Brits and Indian ex-pats living there. Other popular sports include camel riding, falconry, endurance riding, and tennis.

2009 Camel World Cup (yes, there is such a thing!)

More photos of UAE

As you can see, the culture in the United Arab Emirates seems to be both modern and old-school. It seems like it'd be a very interesting place to visit!

A souk (open-air marketplace) in Dubai

A mall in Dubai

Abu Dhabi skyline at night

Dubai skyline at night

2 comments:

  1. Wow! UAE looks like an amazing place to visit! I love looking up random facts on things too hehe. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Yes it was pretty fun to research (and by research, I mean... read their Wikipedia page). I like forward to researching more countries I know nothing about! ;)

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