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UAE

HISTORY : The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates",is a country situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran. The UAE is a federation of seven emirates (equivalent to principalities), each governed by a hereditary emir, with a single national president. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The capital is Abu Dhabi, which is also the state's center of political, industrial, and cultural activities. Prior to independence in 1971, the UAE was known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, in reference to a 19th-century truce between the local sheikhs, hereditary rulers of the territories, and the United Kingdom. The term Pirate Coast was also used by some to refer to the emirates from the 18th to the early 20th century, owing to the preponderance of pirates operating from Emirati ports. The UAE's political system, is based on its 1971 Constitution, which is composed of several intricately connected governing bodies. As a federation of seven monarchies, whose rulers retain absolute power within their emirates, but with a UAE president, it is neither a constitutional monarchy nor a republic. The emirs choose one of their members to be the president of the federation, but this does not alter the monarchical character of the government of the individual emirates. The constitution is concerned solely with the relations between the emirates as members of the federation, and does not prescribe a constitutional system of government. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and Arabic is the official language. UAE oil reserves are ranked as the world's sixth-largest and it possesses one of the most developed economies in West Asia. It is the thirty-fifth-largest economy at market exchange rates, and ranks among the world's wealthiest nations with per capita GDP (PPP) of US$48,597. It is 15th in purchasing power per capita and has a relatively high Human Development Index for the Asian continent, ranking thirtieth globally. The UAE is classified as a high-income developing economy by the IMF. CURRENCY: The dirham (Arabic: ( )sign: ;.code: AED) is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The ISO 4217 code (currency abbreviation) for the United Arab Emirates dirham is AED. Unofficial abbreviations include DH or Dhs. The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils.

The United Arab Emirates dirham was introduced December 1971. It replaced the Qatar and Dubai riyal at par. The Qatar and Dubai riyal had circulated since 1966 in all of the emirates except Abu Dhabi, where the dirham replaced the Bahraini dinar at 1 dirham = 0.1 dinar. Before 1966, all the emirates that were to form the UAE used the Gulf rupee. As in Qatar, the emirates briefly adopted the Saudi riyal during the transition from the Gulf rupee to the Qatar and Dubai riyal. On January 28, 1978, the dirham was officially pegged to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it is pegged to the U.S. dollar for most of the time. Since November 1997, the dirham has been pegged to the 1 U.S. dollar = 3.6725 dirhams, which translates to approximately 1 dirham = 0.272294 dollar. The name Dirham derives from the Greek word Drachmae, literally meaning "handful", through Latin. Due to centuries of old trade and usage of the currency, dirham survived through the Ottoman regime. RELIGION : Islam is the largest and the official state religion of the UAE, though the government follows a policy of tolerance toward other religions and rarely interferes in the activities of nonMuslims. However, it is illegal in the UAE to spread the ideas of any religion apart from Islam through any form of media as it is considered a form of proselytizing. There are approximately 31 churches throughout the country and one Hindu temple in the region of Bur Dubai. Based on the Ministry of Economy census in 2005, 76% of the total population was Muslim, 9% Christian, and 15% other (mainly Hindu). Census figures do not take into account the many "temporary" visitors and workers while also counting Baha'is and Druze as Muslim. Non-Islamic religions are mainly followed by foreigners or expatriates. As the majority of the population are non-citizens, of the citizens 85% are Sunni Muslim while 15% are Shi'a Muslims. Omani immigrants are mostly Ibadi, while Sufi influences exist too. CULTURE: The United Arab Emirates has a diverse and multicultural society. The country's cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationalsfirst by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanis in the 1960s. Despite the diversity of the population, only minor and infrequent episodes of ethnic tensions have been reported in the country. Major holidays in Dubai include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and National Day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Emirati culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab, and Bedouin culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on the region's architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country.

Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday. This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that the UAE is relatively liberal. While Islam is the main religion, the UAE has been known for its tolerant practices. Christian churches can be found alongside mosques and this courtesy has seemingly been extended to Hinduism and Sikhism as there is a place tucked away inside a residential style building which houses a Hindu temple and a Sikh gurudwara. There is evidently no persecution of Hindus or Sikhs which is why it is home to several communities that have faced persecution elsewhere, who are now contributing to the cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are a variety of Asian-influenced schools, cultural centers and restaurants. Increasing numbers of European centers, schools, and restaurants can also be seen in the UAE. CLIMATE: The climate of the U.A.E is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 40 C (104.0 F) on the coastal plain. In the Al Hajar Mountains, temperatures are considerably lower, a result of increased altitude. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 C (50 and 57.2 F). During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as Sharqi (i.e. "Easterner") makes the coastal region especially unpleasant. The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 mm (4.7 in), but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 mm (13.8 in). Rain in the coastal region falls in short, torrential bursts during the summer months, sometimes resulting in floods in ordinarily dry wadi beds. The region is prone to occasional, violent dust storms, which can severely reduce visibility. The Jebel Jais mountain cluster in Ras alKhaimah has experienced snow only twice since records began.

DRESS & ETTIQUETTE: Most Emirati males prefer to wear a kandura, an ankle-length white tunic woven from wool or cotton, and most Emirati women wear an abaya, a black over-garment covering most parts of the body.[142] Western-style clothing is, however, dominant because of the large expatriate population, and this practice is beginning to grow in popularity among Emiratis. Etiquette is an important aspect of UAE culture and tradition, to which visitors are expected to conform. Recently, many expatriates have disregarded the law and been arrested for indecent clothing at beaches. Western-style dress is tolerated in appropriate places, such as bars or clubs, but the UAE has maintained a strict policy of protecting highly public spaces from cultural insensitivity. This is due, in large part, to the effects such practices are considered to have on the social integration and participation of a largely conservative Emirati population.

FOOD: The traditional food of the Emirates has always been rice, fish, and meat. The people of the United Arab Emirates have adopted most of their foods from the surrounding countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Seafood has been the mainstay of the Emirati diet for centuries. Meat and rice are other staple foods; lamb and mutton are the more favored meats, then goat and beef. Popular beverages are coffee and tea, which can be supplemented with cardamom, saffron, or mint to give them a distinct flavor. Muslims are prohibited from eating pork, so it is not included in local menus. Hotels frequently have pork substitutes such as beef sausages and veal rashers on their breakfast menus. If pork is available, it is clearly labeled as such. Alcohol is generally only served in hotel restaurants and bars (but not in Sharjah). All nightclubs and golf clubs are permitted to sell alcohol. Specific supermarkets may sell alcohol and pork, but these products are sold in separate sections.

SPORTS: Association football is the national sport of the United Arab Emirates. Emirati Soccer clubs Al-Ain, Al-Wasl, Al-Shabbab ACD, Al-Sharjah, Al-Wahda, and Al-Ahli are the most popular teams and enjoy the reputation of long-time regional champions. The great rivalries keep the UAE energized as people fill the streets when their favorite team wins. The United Arab Emirates Football Association was first established in 1971 and since then has dedicated its time and effort to promoting the game, organizing youth programs and improving the abilities of not only its players, but of the officials and coaches involved with its regional teams. The UAE football team qualified for the World Cup in 1990with Egypt it was the third consecutive World Cup with two Arab nations qualifying after Kuwait and Algeria in 1982 and Iraq and Algeria again in 1986. The UAE also recently won the Gulf Cup Championship held in Abu Dhabi January 2007. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the UAE, largely because of the expatriate population from the Indian subcontinent, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah has hosted 4 international Test matches so far. Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Al Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi also host international cricket matches. Dubai has two cricket stadiums (Dubai Cricket Ground No.1 and No.2) with a third, 'S3' currently under construction as part of Dubai Sports City. Dubai is also home to the International Cricket Council. The United Arab Emirates national cricket team qualified for the 1996 Cricket World Cup and narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Formula One is particularly popular in the United Arab Emirates, and is annually held at the picturesque Yas Marina Circuit. The race is held at evening time, and is the first ever Grand Prix to start in daylight and finish at night. Other popular sports include camel racing, falconry, endurance riding, and tennis.

TOURISM : Tourism in Dubai is an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai's lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. Dubai is the most populous emirate of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates. It is distinct from other members of the UAE in that revenues from petroleum and natural gas account for only 6% of its gross domestic product. A majority of the emirate's revenues are from the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) and now, increasingly, from tourism. Shopping Tourism Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East." The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region and from as far as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. Dubai is known for its souk districts. Souk is the Arabic word for market or place where any kind of goods are brought or exchanged. Traditionally, dhows from the Far East, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargos and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Dubai's most atmospheric shopping is to be found in the souks, located on either side of the creek, where bargaining is part of the buzz. Modern shopping malls and boutiques are also found in the city. Dubai Duty Free at Dubai International Airport offers merchandise catering to the multinational passengers using Dubai International Airport. While boutiques, some electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets may operate on a fixed-price basis, most other outlets consider friendly negotiation as a way of life. Dubai's numerous shopping centres cater for every consumers need. Cars, clothing, jewellery, electronics, furnishing, sporting equipment and any other goods will all be likely to be under the same roof. Dubai Shopping Festival The Dubai Shopping festival is a month-long festival held during month of January each year. During the festival the entire emirate becomes one massive shopping mall. Additionally, the festival brings together music shows, art exhibitions, and folk dances. Cultural Tourism Sightseeing usually comes second for most visitors, who visit the city for shopping and entertainment. Aspects of Dubai's old culture, while occasionally overshadowed by the boom in economic development, can be found by visiting places around the creek, which splits Dubai into two halves, Bur Dubai and Deira. The buildings lining the Bur Dubai side of the Creek provides

the main flavor of the old city. Heritage Village offers a simulacrum of old Dubai. The adjoining Diving Village offers exhibits on pearl diving and fishing. The Diving Village forms part of an ambitious plan to turn the entire "Shindagha" area into a cultural city, recreating life in Dubai as it was in days gone by.

Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Other attractions include the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House; the Dubai Museum in the restored Al Fahidi Fort, which was erected around 1799; and the Heritage Village of Hatta, situated 115 kilometers southeast of Dubai City in the heart of the rocky Hatta Mountains. The history of the village can be traced back 2000 3000 years. It consists of 30 buildings, each differing in size, interior layout and building materials used. Great care was taken to use the same materials as those used when originally built during the renovation such as mud, hay, sandalwood and palm fronds. The Sharia Mosque is an old mosque built around 200 years ago using the same building materials and consists of a large prayer hall, a court and courtyard, minaret and other utility rooms. Tourist accommodation in Dubai is plentiful and relatively expensive with all the major chains having a presence.