Moving to UAE
Located in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates is a federation composed of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. While each emirate maintains its independence, the UAE is primarily governed by a Supreme Council of Rulers which is composed by a leader from each emirate. Presently, the President of the United Arab Emirates is Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who became President after his father’s death.
Since the UAE shares sea borders with Qatar and Iran, it had an economy that predominantly focused on fishing and pearls. The original building block of society was through the Bedouin tribe, who were nomadic and herded camels and farmed dates. In 1948, the Portuguese arrived, and the British soon followed, with the intent to protect trading links to India. The British established a garrison and developed a peace treaty with the Bani Yas tribal confederation, which was made up of the most powerful ruling families among the Bedouin tribes. In 1968, the British decided to leave, and a new federation was formed: the United Arab Emirates, which became fully independent on December 2, 1971.
"Locals are in the minority in the UAE. It’s a segregated society so it can be difficult to engage with local families, but if you make the effort and succeed, then you will find them to be very kind with an unparalleled tradition of hospitality."- Marina Bruce, Expat in UAE
Before the discovery of oil, the principal source of earnings for the country was through pearl farming, but in the 1930’s the Japanese developed a cultured pearl back home, creating much difficulty for the locals as they lost their largest export. However, since oil was discovered to be extremely abundant within the United Arab Emirates, society, economy and the way of life within the Emirates transformed and developed impressively. The oil industry has attracted numerous workers from all over the world and a number of expatriates who all contribute to the success of the country. Today, the United Arab Emirates holds the most diversified economy in the Middle East, as the government has invested billions of dollars in trade, tourism, banking and infrastructure to minimize a reliance on the oil sector. Due to this economic variety, the UAE is ranked as the 26th most diversified economy in the world, beating Norway, Hong Kong, Australia and Spain.
The official currency of the UAE is the United Arab Emirates dirham, also known as AED, with unofficial acronyms including DH or Dhs. The total population of the UAE is at 9.2 million, with 1.4 million Emirati citizens and 7.8 million expatriates. Islam is the largest and official state religion of the UAE, with 76% of the total population being Muslim. Amongst Emirati citizens, about 85% are Sunni Muslim while Shi’a Muslims compose 15% of the total population. Arabic is the national language of the UAE, but as it was a British colony until the year 1971, English is widely spoken. Other languages that are spoken within the Emirates include Persian, Nepali, Hindi and Tagalog.
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