The United Arab Emirates consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. Four-fifths of the UAE is desert but has contrasting landscapes—from the towering red dunes of the Liwa to the rich palm-filled Oasis of Al Ain, from the precipitous Hajjar Mountains to the more fertile stretches of its coastal plains.
Though small in size (similar to the size of Scotland), the UAE has become an important player in regional and international affairs. In 1971, the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan unified the small, underdeveloped states into a federation—the only one in the Arab world. With his visionary leadership, oil wealth was used to develop the UAE into one of the world's most open and successful economies.
Civilisations in Abu Dhabi date back to the third millennium B.C.; Umm Al Nar island and Jebel Hafeet, in particular, are sites of great archaeological importance. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates and makes up 87 per cent of the entire country. 70 per cent of Abu Dhabi is an open desert. It has 200 islands including: Sadiyat, Al Futasi and Sir Bani Yas.
Dubai was established in 1833, when some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, led by the Maktoum family, settled by the Dubai creek. Dubai is the second largest emirate with an area of 3,885 sq km. Dubai's economy relies on trade, services and finance sectors. The GDP reached around 338 billion AED as of 2014. Landmarks in Dubai include historic and modern structures.
Sharjah's history dates back to 6000 years, when people engaged in trade and pearling. The Al Qawasim tribe has been ruling Sharjah since 1760. Sharjah has a diversified economy. Key contributors are gas, tourism, education, healthcare and logistics. GDP reached around 113.89 billion AED as of 2014. Sharjah is known for touristic sites such as Heart of Sharjah, Al Qasba centre and Al Majaz waterfront.
Ras al Khaimah
Archaeological evidences indicate old civilisations in Ras Al Khaimah. The emirate is famous for its historical antiquities such as the Fort of Dhayah, the palace of Al Zabaa and the antiquities of Julfar city. Ras Al Khaimah has been witnessing a wide expansion in its economy marked by the recent establishment of free zone areas. It runs two vital industries: the cement industry and the pharmaceutical industry.
The Al Nuaimi tribe, who migrated to the region around 1775, formed Ajman. Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates and covers an area of 260 sq km. Currently, Ajman city ranks third among the emirates in industrial development. It is known to have the largest shipyard in the country. Ajman Port and Ajman Free Zone are two key players in the economic growth of the emirate.
Umm Al Quwain
Archaeological evidences indicate its ties with the ancient Mesopotamia and the Umm Al Nar civilisations. The emirate has rich coastal mangroves on the coast of Arabian Gulf and many islands that lie to the east of the mainland. The biggest island is Al Seniah, which is home to Arabian gazelles, falcons and turtles. Fishing is a key contributor to the economy of Umm Al Quwain.
The history of Fujairah dates back to years before the birth of Christ. Fujairah's modern history began in 1808 when Sheikh Mohammed bin Mattar, leader of the Sharqi tribe, built his castle and the old city surrounding it. Fujairah is the only emirate that is located along the Gulf of Oman. The emirate's economy relies on trading, manufacturing, ships supply services, transport, storage and agriculture.
For more information about the UAE, please click here.