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History of UAE - History

History of UAE - History



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Early Years: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the seventh century and forcenturies afterward was embroiled in dynastic disputes. Most UAE nationals are descended from two tribal groupings, the Qawasim and the Bani Yas, which emerged as leading powers in the eighteenth century. The Qawasim, mainly land and sea traders, dominated what are today the emirates of Ras al Khaymah and Sharjah. The Bani Yas, who were agricultural and pastoral, lived in what are today the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, the area became known as the Pirate Coast, as both European and Arab pirates attacked foreign ships. The British mounted expeditions against the pirates during this period, culminating in an 1818 campaign against the pirate headquarters of Ras al Khaymah and other harbors along the coast. This action ostensibly was taken to safeguard British maritime routes, particularly those of the British East India Company, but some historians have noted that the war was in fact motivated by the British desire to establish supremacy in the region against the claims of other European powers.
British Rule: In 1820 Britain concluded a general treaty of peace with the principal sheikhs of the Pirate Coast and Bahrain. Its purpose was to end plundering and piracy and to establish a commitment to desist from the slave trade. The 1820 treaty includes the first denunciation of the slave trade ever written into a formal treaty. However, this treaty did not in practice prevent regular warfare at sea among the tribes of the coast, and in 1835 the sheikhs agreed to a new truce, pursuant to which they agreed to report aggression to British political or naval authorities rather than to retaliate themselves. This truce was renewed several times until May 1853, with the signing of a treaty to bring a complete halt to all hostilities at sea, establishing a “perpetual maritime truce.” The truce was supervised by Britain, to whom the signatories referred all violations. The coastal sheikhdoms now became known as the Trucial Coast, stemming from the treaties signed with the British that resulted in the maritime truce, or as Trucial Oman, because the treaties separated the sheikhdoms from Oman. These terms remained in use until 1971, upon independence from Britain.
In 1892, as France, Germany, and Russia were developing an interest in the Gulf Region, Britain and the sheikhs of the Trucial Coast signed a new treaty, known as the “Exclusive Agreement.” Under this treaty, the sheikhs agreed not to enter into any agreement or correspondence with any power other than Britain and not to cede, sell, or mortgage any part of their territory to anyone other than Britain without British consent. From this period until independence in 1971, the individual coastal sheikhdoms were under British protection, which meant that Britain assumed responsibility for their defense and external relations, while the sheikhdoms followed the traditional form of Arab monarchy, i.e., each ruler had virtually absolute power over his subjects.
Road to Independence: In 1952 Britain recommended that the rulers of the seven sheihkdoms establish the Trucial Council to encourage the adoption of common policies in administrative matters, possibly leading to a federation of states. The rulers met at least twice a year under the chairmanship of the political agent in Dubai.
Since 1958, when petroleum was first discovered beneath the coastal waters of Abu Dhabi, petroleum assets have largely determined the power structure and relative prestige of the emirates. Onshore petroleum was found in Abu Dhabi in 1960, and commercial production followed in 1962, providing significant wealth to the sheikhdom, which remains the largest and most affluent emirate. Sheikh Shakhbut ibn Sultan Al Nuhayyan, who had ruled Abu Dhabi since
1928, failed to use the income from petroleum royalties to develop the sheikhdom and was deposed in 1966. He was replaced by his younger brother, Sheikh Zayid ibn Sultan Al Nuhayyan, under whose rule Abu Dhabi was transformed, with considerable income from the petroleum industry allocated for public works and the provision of welfare services. In 1966 petroleum was discovered in Dubai, which prospered greatly from this new wealth.
Independence: In 1968 the United Kingdom announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Coast states and to withdraw British military forces from the area. In March 1968, the Trucial Coast states joined Bahrain and Qatar (which had also been under British protection) to form the Federation of Arab Emirates, but Bahrain and Qatar seceded from the federation in 1971, opting for separate independence. In July 1971, six of the Trucial States (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Dubai, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaywayn) agreed on a federal constitution for achieving independence as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On December 1, 1971, the United Kingdom terminated all existing treaties with the Trucial Coast states, and independence was declared the following day. The seventh sheikhdom, Ras al Khaymah, joined the UAE in February 1972. At the time of independence, Sheikh Zayid ibn Sultan Al Nuhayyan of Abu Dhabi was named the first president of the UAE, a role he fulfilled until his death in 2004. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid ibn Said Al Maktum, became vice president, and his eldest son, Sheikh Maktum ibn Rashid Al Maktum, the crown prince of Dubai, was named prime minister. In 1986 Sheikh Rashid assumed the posts of both vice president and prime minister, but on his death in 1990 Sheikh Maktum succeeded his father as ruler of Dubai and as vice president and prime minister of the UAE.
In 1971 the UAE adopted a provisional constitution that was intended to expire after five years but it was in fact renewed until the adoption of a permanent constitution in 1996. The government was centralized further in 1976, when the federal government attained control over defense, intelligence services, immigration, public security, and border control.


Israel International Relations: Israel - UAE Relations

Up until the signing of the Abraham Accords signed on August 13, 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did not officially recognize Israel, and Israeli passport-holders could not legally enter the country.

Relations became strained in 2010 after the UAE accused the Mossad of assassinating Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. He was the co-founder of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and wanted by the Israeli government for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and purchasing arms from Iran for use in Gaza.

In late November 2015, the government of the United Arab Emirates granted Israel formal permission to establish a diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi. Although this signifies a slight warming in relations between the two countries, the UAE granted permission to Israel largely to facilitate its membership in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Officials from both countries have clarified that the diplomatic office serves the sole purpose of allowing Israeli diplomats to have a permanent office for IRENA and reside there as well. This diplomatic relationship is comparable to the relationship between Iran and the United States, wherein Iran has a UN Mission in New York despite the lack of U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations.

During the first week of November 2016, Israel&rsquos ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, paid a secretive visit to the UAE to attend a conference under the auspices of his position as chairman of the UN legal committee. Danon&rsquos visit was conducted under stringent security measures, to avoid public opposition.

Some Israeli businesses conduct business in the UAE, and there is a small population of Israeli ex-patriot professionals working in the UAE. There are also citizens of Israel who hold dual citizenship and work in the UAE as citizens of other countries.

Israeli Officials Visit

In October 2018, Miri Regev, Israel&rsquos culture and sports minister paid the first state visit by an Israeli official to Abu Dhabi&rsquos Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Muslim world&rsquos third largest house of worship, after mosques in Mecca and Medina. During her trip to the UAE, Regev also witnessed a milestone when Israel&rsquos national anthem was played after Sagi Muki won a gold medal in the international judo tournament held in the capital. Coincidentally, an Israeli gymnastics delegation was in Qatar for the beginning of the world championships being held in Doha (Times of Israel, October 29, 2018). Shortly after Regev&rsquos visit, Israel&rsquos communications minister, Ayoub Kara, visited Dubai for a telecommunications conference (AAJ News, October 31, 2018).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in 2018 during a secret visit where he was accompanied by the director of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen.

Trilateral Meeting

The White House hosted a secret trilateral meeting on December 17, 2019, between Israel and the UAE on coordination against Iran as part of the Trump administration&rsquos effort to encourage normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu&rsquos national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and UAE ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba also discussed a nonaggression pact as an interim step toward full diplomatic relations.

A few days later, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed tweeted an article headlined: &ldquoIslam&rsquos reformation, an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.&rdquo Netanyahu told his cabinet the following day: &ldquoThe UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed, spoke about a new alliance in the Middle East: An Israeli-Arab alliance. &hellip I can only say that this remark is the result of the ripening of many contacts and efforts, which at the moment, and I emphasize at the moment, would be best served by silence.&rdquo

According to Axios, the seeds of the relationship were planted during a U.S.-led anti-Iran conference in February 2019 in Warsaw. Afterward, a trilateral forum &mdash the U.S, Israel and the UAE &ndash was created to strengthen cooperation against Iran. At least three meetings took place in 2019.

Israel announced it will take part in the 2020 World Expo in Dubai. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it welcomed &ldquothe opportunity to share our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and to present Israeli innovations and trailblazing technology in various fields such as water, medicine and information technology.&rdquo

On February 23, 2020, an Israeli cycling team raced through Dubai, taking part in the UAE Tour for the first time in the latest sign of warming ties between the two countries.

Pandemic Research and Cooperation

In its first flight to Israel, Etihad Airways arrived in Israel on May 19, 2020, carrying 14 tons of medical supplies to help the Palestinians cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Palestinian Authority said it would refuse the aid, however, because it had come through Israel. On June 9, 2020, a second Etihad Airlines plane brought another shipment of medical supplies. Unlike the first flight, the Etihad logo and United Arab Emirates flag were visible on the plane. While the PA again complained, the supplies were to be transferred to the UN for distribution in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials hoped the unprecedented flights were a further step toward normalizing relations however, the possibility was clouded by Israeli plans to apply sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash had warned Israel earlier that it would face &ldquodangerous repercussions&rdquo if it went through with what he referred to as annexation. Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba subsequently took the unprecedented step of writing in Israel&rsquos most popular newspaper an article headlined, &ldquoIt&rsquos Either Annexation or Normalization,&rdquo expressing his country&rsquos opposition to Israel&rsquos plan. &ldquoAnnexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with U.A.E.,&rdquo he said.

Nevertheless, a few days later Netanyahu announced that Israel and the UAE agreed the Israeli and Emirati health ministries would cooperate in research and development in medical projects related to the coronavirus. Sensitive to the timing of the agreement, the UAE publicly admitted only that two private companies in the UAE had reached a deal with two Israeli companies to develop research and technology to combat COVID-19. Israel Aerospace Industries signed a cooperation agreement with the company Group 42 from Abu Dhabi on July 2, 2020, to join forces to research and development technology in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

UAE Agrees to Establish Diplomatic Relations

In a dramatic and unexpected joint announcement by the United States, Israel, and the UAE on August 13, 2020, Israel and the UAE &ldquoagreed to the full normalization of relations.&rdquo The agreement was sealed in a phone call on August 13, 2020, between President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

White House officials said the deal, to be known as the Abraham Accords, was brokered by senior adviser Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O&rsquoBrien.

Delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues. They will also open embassies and exchange ambassadors. Flights from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv are also planned to bring pilgrims to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. A few days later, the UAE cancelled the its law to boycott Israel, which had been enacted in 1972 but not enforced in recent years.

The statement also said that as &ldquoa result of this diplomatic breakthrough, and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty&rdquo over areas of the West Bank.

UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba released a statement calling the agreement &ldquoa win for diplomacy and for the region&rdquo and &ldquoa significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change.&rdquo

He added that the move &ldquoimmediately stops annexation and the potential for violent escalation. It maintains the viability of a two-state solution as endorsed by the Arab League and international community. It creates new dynamics and possibilities in the peace process.&rdquo

The UAE also reportedly secured a commitment from the administration that the United States will not recognize Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank until at least 2024. Nevertheless, Otaiba anticipated Palestinian anger when he tweeted, &ldquoThe UAE will remain a strong supporter of the Palestinian people &ndash for their dignity, their rights and their own sovereign state. They must benefit from normalization. We will forcefully advocate for these ends, now directly and bolstered with stronger incentives, policy options and diplomatic tools.&rdquo

One matter of controversy emerged after the announcement of the Abraham Accords regarding the possible sale of F-35 stealth fighters to the UAE. It was initially reported that Netanyahu acquiesced to the sale, seeing it as the price of the agreement, but he later denied such a quid pro quo.

There is a precedent for such a deal. Following the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel dropped objections to the sale of fighter planes to Egypt. This case is different, however, because the F-35 is the most advanced fighter plane in the world and, though Israel already has them, Israeli officials, members of Congress, and some analysts argued the sale would erode Israel&rsquos qualitative military edge (QME) in the region.

One of the striking aspects of this development is the lack of protests in the Arab world. The Palestinians denounced the agreement but public demonstrations were muted in the West Bank and virtually nonexistent elsewhere. The Arab League denied the Palestinian Authrority request to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the UAE-Israel agreement. Only Iran and Turkey took a stand against the Israel-UAE peace deal, and even they didn't do so for the sake of the Palestinians,&rdquo noted Prof. Eyal Zisser, &ldquobut because they see the deal as hurting their own status in the region.&rdquo

Prof. Hillel Frisch noted the significance: &ldquoRest assured that if the lack of demonstrations went largely unnoticed by the general public, it was most assuredly noticed by state leaders in the Middle East and their violent proxy organizations. For those leaders who wisely seek to establish relations with Israel, the lack of demonstrations was reassuring, as it lowered the sense of danger emanating from the Arab street regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.&rdquo


Front page of Khaleej Times of Dubai hailing UAE-Israel peace agreement

A U.S.-Israeli delegation flew on El Al to Abu Dhabi on September 1, 2020, the first-ever direct flight from Ben Gurion Airport to an Arab Gulf country. This was also the first Israeli plane allowed to fly through Saudi airspace. During the visit, U.S., Israeli and UAE officials discussed cooperation in the fields of investment, finance, health, space exploration, civil aviation, foreign policy, and tourism and culture. &ldquoThe result will be broad cooperation between two of the region&rsquos most innovative and dynamic economies,&rdquo the trio said in a statement.

Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, outlined the vision of the Abraham Accords:

Just a few weeks after the announcement about the establishment of relations the UAE already had integrated a lesson about the agreement in one of the textbooks for grades 1-12. The chapter regarding the UAE-Israel agreement states that the &ldquohistoric&rdquo agreement&rdquo stems from the values of our true Islamic religion&rdquo which pushes towards creating and &ldquobuilding bridges of cooperation.&rdquo

On September 15, 2020, the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement was signed in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. by President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. As part of the Abraham Accords, the three leaders, along with the Foreign Minister of Bahrain also signed a declaration expressing their common interests. On October 15, 2020, the Knesset approved establishing formal relations with the UAE by a vote of 80-13.

Peace Dividends

In September 2020, shortly after the signing of the Abraham Accords, the Dubai Diamond Exchange and Israel Diamond Exchange agreed to share expertise, open reciprocal offices and promote regional trade in precious stones. Israel is one of the leading exporters of polished diamonds and Dubai is one of the most important diamond centers in the world.

Diplomats from the United Arab Emirates made their first official trip to Israel on October 20, 2020, and signed an agreement allowing their citizens to travel from one country to the other without visas &mdash Israel&rsquos first such waiver with an Arab state. Other agreements included approving direct flights between Tel Aviv and the Emirates, providing protections for investors, and promoting scientific and technological cooperation.

The United States, UAE and Israel also agreed to create a $3 billion investment fund, to be called the Abraham Fund, to promote private investment in Israel, the West Bank and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. One of its first planned projects is construction of the long-discussed &ldquoMed-Red&rdquo oil pipeline from Eilat to Ashkelon, which would carry Emirati oil that now goes to Europe via the Suez Canal. The new route would lower energy prices and speed shipments.

The fund will also be used to improve checkpoints in the West Bank, but the Palestinians were still angered by the plan, which they see as &ldquoa stamp of approval for the Israeli occupation&rsquos continuation.&rdquo

In December 2020, Emirati authorities confirmed that the Educational Hebrew Institute, the first Hebrew language and Israeli culture institute in the UAE, will open in January.

On December 7, 2020, a member of the UAE's ruling family and Abu Dhabi businessman Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan purchased a 50 percent stake of Israeli Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel&rsquos leading soccer clubs.

In January 2021, the UAE approved the opening of an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi.

In March 2021, the national rugby teams of Israel and the UAE held a first-ever match in Dubai.

On April 6, 2021, the first commercial passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel arrived in Tel Aviv. Aboard the Etihad Airways plane was Mohamed Al Khaja, the UAE&rsquos first ambassador to Israel, Eitan Na&rsquoeh, head of mission at the Embassy of Israel in Abu Dhabi, and Tony Douglas, chief executive of Etihad Airways.

&ldquoSince the signing of the Abraham Accord between Israel and the UAE last summer, the two countries have worked together to embark upon a new and dynamic era of co-operation. From exploring trade and investment opportunities to engaging in culture and people-to-people exchanges, Israel and the UAE have moved swiftly to make the bold vision that first underpinned the accords a reality,&rdquo said Al Khaja.

In June 2021, Israel and the UAE signed an agreement to develop a water research institute in a partnership between Watergen, an Israeli water from air technology company the UAE-based company Baynunah, which specializes in food security and the Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President of Tel Aviv University said, &ldquoResearch at the joint water institute will build on our special academic strengths, and will open a path for collaboration with the UAE in other mutual areas of research, as well as to student and faculty exchange programs.&rdquo

Sources: Simon Henderson, &ldquoIsrael&rsquos gulf breakthrough,&rdquo The Washington Institute, (November 30, 2015).
Daniel Roth, &ldquoReport: Israel&rsquos UN ambassador made secret visit to Dubai,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (November 3, 2016).
Jonathan Ferziger and Alisa Odenheimer, &ldquoAs the Gulf Warms Up to Israel, a Synagogue Grows in Dubai,&rdquo Bloomberg Businessweek, (December 5, 2018).
Wikipedia.
Ami Rojkes Dombe, &ldquoIsrael to Participate in World Expo 2020 in Dubai,&rdquo IsraelDefense, (April 28, 2019).
Dave Lawler and Barak Ravid, &ldquoScoop: Israel and UAE discuss anti-Iran cooperation at secret White House meeting,&rdquo Axios, (February 4, 2020).
&ldquoIsrael team races in UAE cycling tour in sporting overture,&rdquo AFP, (February 23, 2020).
Dion Nissenbaum, U.A.E. Flies Coronavirus Aid for Palestinians in First Known Commercial Flight to Israel,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, (May 19, 2020).
Felicia Schwartz, &ldquoU.A.E. Makes Rare Public Appeal to Israel: Don&rsquot Annex the West Bank,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, (June 12, 2020).
Jacob Magid, &ldquoSecond UAE plane carrying virus aid for Palestinians lands in Israel,&rdquo Times of Israel, (June 9 2020).
&ldquoUAE and Israeli companies sign deal to tackle COVID-19,&rdquo Arab News, (June 25, 2020).
Ronen Bergman and Ben Hubbard, &ldquoIsrael Announces Partnership With U.A.E., Which Throws Cold Water On It,&rdquo New York Times, (June 25, 2020).
&ldquoIsraeli and Emirati firms sign &lsquohistoric agreement&rsquo to jointly combat COVID-19,&rdquo Times of Israel, (July 3, 2020).
The White House, (August 13, 2020).
Noa Landau, &ldquoIsrael Suspends West Bank Annexation in Deal to Normalize Relations With the UAE,&rdquo Haaretz, (August 13, 2020).
Steve Hendrix and Kareem Fahim, &ldquoIsrael-UAE deal condemned by Palestinians, cheered by Egypt and Bahrain,&rdquo Washington Post, (August 13, 2020).
Marcy Oster, &ldquoUAE cancels Israel boycott law as El Al prepares first direct flight and Kushner promises more deals,&rdquo JTA, (August 30, 2020).
&ldquoEl Al plane, ending landmark UAE trip, again flies over Saudi, lands in Tel Aviv,&rdquo Times of Israel, (September 1, 2020).
Yossi Yehoshua, &ldquoNetanyahu secretly visited UAE in 2018 to kick start peace deal,&rdquo Ynet, (September 1, 2020).
Hillel Frisch, &ldquoThe Israel-UAE Agreement&rsquos Greatest Achievement: Little Arab Protest,&rdquo BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,729, (September 3, 2020).
Eyal Zisser, &ldquoThe Palestinians have been left on their own,&rdquo Israel Hayom, (September 3, 2020).
&ldquoDespite Public Denial, Netanyahu Privately Let U.S. Sell F-35 to UAE, Report Says,&rdquo Haaretz, (September 4, 2020).
Jacob Magid, &ldquoUS assured UAE it won&rsquot back Israel annexation before 2024 at earliest, ToI told,&rdquo Times of Israel, (September 13, 2020).
Hend Al Otaiba, &ldquoUAE: We Seek a Warm Peace With Israel,&rdquo Haaretz, (September 14, 2020).
Zachary Keyser, &ldquoUAE begins teaching about normalization with Israel to grades 1-12,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (September 15, 2020).
&ldquoIsrael, Dubai diamond exchanges begin strategic collaboration,&rdquo Reuters, (September 17, 2020).
David M. Halbfinger and Adam Rasgon, &ldquoEmiratis Land in Israel, Firming New Ties and Angering Palestinians,&rdquo New York Times, (October 20, 2020).
Abigail Klein Leichman, &ldquoHebrew language and Israeli culture institute opens in UAE,&rdquo Israel21c, (November 29, 2020).
&ldquoEmirati royal buys 50 percent stake in Israel&rsquo Beitar Jerusalem Football Club,&rdquo The New Arab, (December 7, 2020).
Lahav Harkov, &ldquoIsrael reopens mission to Morocco after 20 years,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (January 26, 2021).
&ldquoIsrael and UAE face off in rugby in what&rsquos likely the first-ever friendly sports matchup between the 2 countries,&rdquo JTA, (March 19, 2021).
Nilanjana Gupta and Hayley Skirka, Etihad takes off for Israel: UAE airline launches inaugural flight to Tel Aviv,&rdquo The National, (April 6, 2021).
&ldquoIsrael-UAE water research institute to open in Abu Dhabi,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (June 1, 2021).

Photos: Twitter feed of Yiftah Curiel in Frisch. Peace agreement photo: Chris Kleponis / CNP


United Arab Emirates — History and Culture

Beginning as separate emirates before the 1960’s, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) went through dramatic changes following the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves. Since the Gulf coast formed the UAE in 1972, an explosion of wealth has turned this once barren landscape into a thriving oasis of modern development.

History

The first Europeans to arrive in the Gulf States were the Spanish in the 16th century. Eventually, the entire region was heavily influenced by colonial powers, but by the 1700’s, Britain was the most powerful force. In 1820, the sheikhdoms signed a treaty with the British government, known as the Trucial Sheikhdoms Treaty. Britain would protect them granted they would not give up land for or do business with any foreign governments without prior consent.

The treaty provided added protection for the pearling industry, which was the primary source of income for locals along the coast where piracy was rampant. Both World Wars, global economic depression and the discovery of Japanese cultured pearls saw the decline of the industry, but visitors can still see what life was like during this period at the Shindagha District (Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE).

In the late 1950’s and early ‘60s, the Gulf’s oil industry began to take off. With the rapid decline of the pearling industry over the first half of the 20th century, the discovery of oil along the coast couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The first oil exports came out of Abu Dhabi in 1962, leading to increased UAE infrastructure and a better quality of life for the locals.

By the 1960’s, Britain decided to pull out of its treaty with the Trucial sheikhdoms. The seven sheikhdoms plus Bahrain and Qatar attempted to form a union before British protection expired in December 1971. However, disagreements led to a disintegration of the group. Qatar and Bahrain both became independent nations, while Dubai and Abu Dhabi joined five other emirates and on December 2, 1971, the UAE was born.

Since then, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have experienced incredible growth, both financially and socially. Over the last few decades, the UAE has not only become the center of the Middle East’s tourism, but has led the way in expanding its economy into ventures away from oil and natural gas. The Dubai National Museum (Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai) is a wonderful attraction that takes visitors on a journey through the city’s history, from pearl village to modern metropolis.

Culture

The UAE began as simple pearling villages, but has evolved into one of the most multicultural societies in the world. The population is predominantly Islamic and therefore many laws are respected. Emirati women wear a full-body abaya according to Islamic practices. Pork is not common, and in Sharjah, alcohol is prohibited. Nevertheless, in most parts of the UAE, tourists will find a liberal stance on Islamic culture. Alcohol can be purchased at licensed venues (mostly inside hotels), but outside of these, a permit must be obtained in advance. A strict dress code is also observed and wearing anything too revealing in public is frowned upon.


A timeline of key milestones in UAE history

1971: Dec 2 | The rulers of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain proclaimed the creation of the new state Image Credit: Gulf News archives 1972: Feb 10 | Ras Al Khaimah was approved for admission to the Union by a decision of the Supreme Council, thus completing the Union entity, which became officially known as the United Arab Emirates. (His Highness Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the late ruler of Ras Al Khaimah) Image Credit: WAM 1973 | The dirham was introduced as the UAE's currency Image Credit: Gulf News archives 1974: His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi becomes the Ruler of Fujairah Image Credit: WAM 1976: UAE Armed Forces formed by uniting each of the emirates. Image Credit: WAM 1981: May 25 | The Gulf Cooperation Council was formally launched in Abu Dhabi. The leaders of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman put their signatures to the basic constitution of the GCC Image Credit: BNA 1981: Sep 7 | Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi becomes the new Ruler of Ajman. Image Credit: WAM 1982: The new Abu Dhabi International Airport begins operations Image Credit: Gulf News archives 1985: Oct 25 | Emirates airline launched. Image Credit: Gulf News archives 1996: Mar 27 | Dubai hosts world’s richest horse race, $4 million Dubai World Cup. Cigar went into the annals of racing history by winning the inaugural edition of the Dubai World Cup in 1996 Image Credit: Gulf News archives 1999: Dec 1 | Burj Al Arab hotel opens in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News archives 2004: His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan becomes President of the UAE. Image Credit: WAM 2004: Nov | Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was appointed as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Image Credit: WAM 2006: Jan 5 | His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum becomes Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Image Credit: WAM 2006: July 10 | President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan registered in the population register and ID card system, triggering the official launch of this national program, the largest technological program in the Middle East Region. Image Credit: Gulf News archives 2009: Jun 29 | Abu Dhabi becomes home to International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). Image Credit: Supplied 2009: Sep | Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Dubai Metro, the world’s longest automated driverless train system and the first Metro in the Gulf region. Image Credit: Gulf News archives 2010: Jan 4 | World’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa opens in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives 2010: Oct 27 | His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi (right) has been appointed Supreme Council member and new ruler of Ras Al Khaimah following the death of Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi. Image Credit: WAM 2010: Mar 13 | South Korea signs a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with UAE to gain access to at least a billion barrels of crude oil reserves in oil deal with Adnoc. (President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan extended a warm welcome to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi.) Image Credit: WAM 2013: Mar 17 | Shams 1, the world’s largest solar power plant located at Madinat Zayed is inaugurated by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image Credit: WAM 2013: Nov 27 | In Paris, Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group, with UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, celebrate the UAE's winning bid to host Expo 2020 in Dubai. Image Credit: WAM 2014: January 19 | UAE Cabinet passes the National Service Law which stipulates compulsory military service for Emirati men aged between 18 to 30 and the service will be voluntary for women. Image Credit: AFP 2014: July 16 | UAE announces the creation of the UAE Space Agency to supervise the Mars mission Image Credit: Supplied 2017: Oct 16 | Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has launched the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, which aims to speed up government’s performance, and create conducive creative environment with highly productivity. The strategy is part of the UAE Centennial 2071 objectives. Image Credit: Supplied 2018: October 29 | KhalifaSat makes history as the first satellite built on UAE soil reaches space Image Credit: Supplied 2018: Dec 1 | The UAE passport has jumped to Number 1 as the world's most powerful passport. With this historic achievement, UAE passport holders are now able to gain visa-free entry to 167 countries worldwide, according to Passport Index. Image Credit: Supplied 2019: UAE makes history with the launch of Hazzaa Al Mansoori to space. Image Credit: Instagram

History & Culture of UAE

Only a few countries in the world possess as rich and royal heritage as the United Arab Emirates. The heritage of UAE is a gift of its unique surroundings. The UAE has a variety of landscapes such as Deserts, Oasis, mountains and the coastline that attracted and helped in the integration of traditions over centuries.

Formation of the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates comprises the seven states, which are now metro cities, viz. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Umm Al-Quwain, and Fujairah. The seven states or the Emirates united as a central state on December 2, 1971. The subcultures that lie within these states are interdependent on each other in the social, economic and political context hence create a comprehensive culture and unique identity.

Demographic and Languages

The UAE attracts several people from the corners of the world, especially from other Asian countries. Two-third of the migrants in the country are mainly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, and the Philippines. The rest are from other Arab countries, Americans, and Europeans. The formal language of the country is Arabic, but the other languages of immigrants are also used while communicating orally, such as English, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi or Filipino. The government encourages the people for higher education considering it as an effective instrument for development.

The economy of the Arab Emirates was entirely dependent on the marine trade through the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Also, the trade to the East-African countries led to gain the labor from the African continent. Over the period of time, the United Arab Emirates incorporated several populations from different countries and integrated them as citizens. The oil resources became the most precious assets of the Emirates and keyed up the developments in the UAE.

Urbanization and Architectural Significance

As the Emirates were exposed to the oil and natural gases, the localities transformed old-fashioned architecture into commercial ones. The cities within the country are rapidly growing and influenced by the globalization. The skyscrapers in most of the cities are a symbol of commercialization and the new hub for business. Mostly, the cities have segregated areas for natives and the immigrants, which is further divided by social power and civilization. The themes related to the national heritage can be found in most of the urban infrastructure, showcasing the arched windows and gates. The old palaces and marketplaces have been preserved by the local governments.

Earlier, the food in the UAE contained mainly dates, yoghurt, rice, fishes, local vegetables, and meat of goats and camels. As the emirates became united, the urbanization and globalization enabled modern supermarkets and the imported foods that improved the quality and also a variety of the cuisines. Emiratis are famous for their hospitality. When someone visits their place, they are pleased welcoming the guests with coffee and dates.

Etiquettes and Religious Views

The core religion in the UAE is Islam and other religions are also equally honored in the UAE.
The way of greeting someone is a general practice saying ‘Al-Salam Alaykom’. Men generally avoid shaking hands with women in public while greeting. The United Arab Emirates supports all kind of arts and literature.


Significant dates in UAE history

December 2 Formation of the United Arab Emirates in Dubai (with the exception of Ras Al Khaimah, which will join on February 10, 1972). Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan is the first President.

January 25 Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, is killed during a failed coup mounted by Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan, the former Ruler. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed succeeds him.

February 12 The Federal National Council meets for the first time.

December 2 The first National Day. The Egyptian diva Najat Al Saghira sings the new national anthem.

May 19 The launch of the UAE dirham.

September 26 The first traffic lights come into operation in Abu Dhabi.

October 18 Sheikh Zayed announces the UAE will cut supplies of oil to the US as a protest against America's support for Israel in the October (Yom Kippur) war.

November 15 National Day celebrations are cancelled because of the Middle East crisis.

December 23 A new cabinet is formed with Sheikh Rashid as Prime Minister.

January 31 Direct telephone service between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is inaugurated with a phone call between Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid.

September 17 Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, Ruler of Fujairah, dies. His son, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed , takes over.

December 2 National Day coverage includes the first experimental colour-television broadcast in the UAE.

April 2 Al Maktoum Bridge in Dubai opens at a cost of £1 million.

December 21 The World Bank confirms that in 1974 the average income in the UAE is the highest in the world.

February 1 Preliminary results of the UAE's first census show a population of 655,937 at the end of 1975.

May 6 Unification of the UAE armed forces.

November 22 Sheikh Zayed is unanimously re-elected President.

January 1 Sharjah International Airport opens.

April 26 Female students are admitted to UAE University for the first time.

October 25 Saif bin Ghobash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, is shot dead at Abu Dhabi International Airport while meeting Syria's foreign minister, the intended target.

January 9 A decree from Sheikh Zayed bans the hunting of birds and wild animals across the UAE.

April 8 Direct phone links begin between Sharjah and Fujairah.

April 12 The Red Crescent is officially established in the UAE.

August 15 Maternity leave of up to 45 days is introduced.

February 24 Britain's Queen Elizabeth begins a state visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In Dubai, she opens the World Trade Centre, the tallest building in the Middle East with a main tower of 149 metres, and inaugurates Jebel Ali Port.

July 7 Seven Gulf countries - the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq and Iran - agree to establish the Regional Organisation to Protect the Marine Environment, based in Kuwait.

February 21 The death of the Ruler of Umm Al Quwain, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, is announced. His son, Sheikh Rashid, succeeds him.

May 25 The UAE meets with five other countries - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar - to form the Gulf Cooperation Council.

September 6 The Ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, dies. His son, Sheikh Humaid, succeeds him.

January 2 Abu Dhabi International Airport opens at its current location, taking over from Al Bateen airport as the main passenger hub.

September 23 A Gulf Air flight from Pakistan to Abu Dhabi crashes on approach after a bomb explodes in the baggage compartment, killing all 112 passengers and crew.

February 8 The UAE ambassador to France, Khalifa Ahmed Abdulaziz, is shot dead by an unknown assailant.

October 25 Emirates Airline begins operations out of Dubai. Its first destinations are in Pakistan and India.

May 6 The Federal National Council acknowledges a recession in the UAE, brought on by a drop in oil prices, and calls on the Government to diversify the economy.

October 15 Sheikh Zayed is unanimously re-elected President of the federation for a further five years by the Supreme Council.

October 26 UAE announces that its oil reserves amount to 200 billion barrels, and expects them to become the second largest in the world.

July 18 The Iran-Iraq War, which has dominated the Gulf for most of the 1980s, enters its final weeks after both countries accept a UN Security Council resolution to end the conflict. The UAE, as one of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, sends notes to both countries to express satisfaction.

February 11 Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan, brother of Sheikh Zayed and former ruler of Abu Dhabi, dies at the age of 83.

June 9-19 The UAE national football team plays in the Fifa World Cup in Italy, losing to Colombia, West Germany and Yugoslavia by a cumulative score of 11-2.

October 7 Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, dies and is succeeded by his son, Sheikh Maktoum.

February 24 The UAE joins a 34-nation armed coalition and sends troops to liberate Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion.

August 24 Iran escalates tension over the islands Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb, seized from the UAE in 1971, by requiring Emirati visitors to have visas.

March 6 The number of federal ministries is now almost double the 12 created in 1972. New ministries include Transportation and Higher Education.

September When Iraqi forces again move towards the Kuwait border, the UAE sends ground troops to the country.

June 6 The UAE pledges military and humanitarian aid to Bosnia's Muslims.

May 20 At a meeting of the Federal Supreme Council, the provisional constitution is made permanent and Abu Dhabi is officially named the nation's capital.

November The dirham is pegged to the US dollar.

March 12 Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey begins a dig on the Marawah island and finds fireplaces used by late Stone Age hunters carbon-dating indicates this is the earliest inhabited site yet found in the country.

September 30 The Burj Al Arab is finished in Dubai, in time for a December opening and millennium celebrations.

April 15 Construction is completed on Jumeirah Emirates Towers: at 56 storeys, the tallest building in the Middle East.

September 22 In the wake of September 11, the UAE severs its relations with Afghanistan's Taliban government.

February 16 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Crown Prince of Dubai, announces the creation of Dubai International Financial Centre as part of a strategy to secure a place in global finance.

March 1 The UAE is the first Arab country to call publicly for Saddam Hussein to step down.

November 5 The first Etihad Airways flight takes off, a ceremonial trip between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The inaugural commercial flight will be between Abu Dhabi and Beirut.

August 17 Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum wins gold in men's double trap shooting at Athens Olympics, the UAE's first Olympic medal.

November 1 Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi becomes first woman in the Government when she is appointed Minister of Economy and Planning.

November 2 (a date corresponding to Ramadan 19, 1425) It is announced that Sheikh Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, the Father of the Nation, had died.

November 3 Sheikh Zayed's sons and close family were joined at his funeral by presidents and rulers from around the region and beyond: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Kuwait … their heads of state prayed over the deceased leader shrouded in the flag of the UAE.

February 25 Emirates Palace opens in Abu Dhabi.

August 10 Sheikh Khalifa signs Law No 19, which formally abandons the old property regime and permits the sale of freehold rights by citizens and, in certain areas, 99-year leases by foreigners.

January 4 Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, dies during a visit to Australia. His brother, Sheikh Mohammed, succeeds him.

December 16 About 6,500 Emiratis are eligible to vote for the FNC in the UAE's first election.

March 6 France and the UAE sign an agreement to open a branch of the Louvre on Saadiyat.

January 21 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque opens to the public.

September 1 Manchester City Football Club is taken over by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment.

November 4 The Dubai Mall opens.

January 2 Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed, Ruler of Umm Al Quwain, dies. His son, Sheikh Saud, succeeds him.

September 9 At 9:09:09pm, Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates the first section of Dubai Metro's Red Line, serving 10 stations.

January 4 Dubai inaugurates the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa.

October 27 Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, dies at the age of 92. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr succeeds him as Ruler.

April 23 The launch of Yahsat's first commercial telecommunications satellite.

September 24 Almost 130,000 Emiratis are eligible to vote in the second poll to elect members of the FNC.

July 15 The first day of operation for a pipeline that runs 403 kilometres from the oilfields of Al Gharbia to the waters off Fujairah, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz.


We have compiled our list of facts in chronological order, allowing you to look at Dubai through a historical lens, right up until modern times.

Historical facts about Dubai from 3000 BCE to 5th century CE

Here are some of the fun facts about Dubai from 300 BCE to 5th century CE. Each of them throws light on the history of Dubai’s development.

The first human settlement in the city was in 3000 BC

Dubai’s history traces back to the early Minoan period. Archaeological evidence suggests that the place where Dubai is currently situated used to be a mangrove swamp. By 3000 BCE, the swamp dried up and Bedouin cattle herders started living there.

They were the first humans to have settled in Dubai. By 2500 BCE, they successfully established a date palm plantation in one of the fertile areas of the desert, after years of nomadic life. This was the beginning of agriculture in Dubai.

There are many interesting facts about Dubai for kids especially those pertaining to the first settlement and empire

Dubai was under the control of the Sassanid Empire

Until the 7th century, Dubai remained under the control of the Sassanids, a Neo-Persian dynasty, which had been ruling the area since 224 AD. Founded by Ardashir I, the empire had encompassed all of the cities in the Persian Gulf, including Dubai. Their rule ended the moment Ummayads took control and introduced Islam in the area.

It was the same time during which Jumeirah, the area which is now home to beautiful beachside villas, had turned into a trade channel between Iraq and Oman.

For those looking to know facts about Dubai culture and economy read on!

Fun facts about Dubai from 1000 to 1700s

Here are some facts from 1000 to 1700s that sum up the brief history of Dubai’s economy.

Economic dependency of Dubai on pearling and fishing

Before oil was discovered, UAE’s economy relied on trading, pearling and fishing. Pearls from the city were traded far and wide all the way to Rome, Venice, India and Srilanka and the money earned off it strengthened the economy of the country.

Pearl diving, too, served as a good income source for the country. It was seasonal work for many local Emiratis but the money was good, so most of the pearl divers started moving to coastal towns such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, establishing the history and foundation of UAE’s two biggest cities.

These pearls were an exclusive commodity of the UAE, so many international brands including Cartier also used them to build a strong reputation. It further paved the way for the country towards prosperity.

Other than pearls, merchant ships in Dubai used to trade fish, silk and porcelain to Middle Eastern and European markets. During the late 16th century, the British, Portuguese, Dutch and French wanted to take control of trade routes but Dubai turned the situation in its favour and started trading through every channel.

The economic history of Dubai revolves around pearling and fishing. This fact is always mentioned in the list of 10 amazing facts about Dubai

Dubai got independence from Abu Dhabi in 1833

The Al Maktoum dynasty of the Bani Yas clan, under the leadership of the famous Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti, took over Abu Dhabi in 1793 and Dubai became dependent on Abu Dhabi. In 1833, Maktoum bin Butti of the Bani Yas tribe took his people to the Shindagha Peninsula close to Dubai Creek in 1833 and settled there. He also declared the independence of Dubai from Abu Dhabi and became the ruler of Dubai. The Maktoum dynasty still rules the emirate.

Dubai was an independent emirate, without many political links to Abu Dhabi from the 1800’s

Interesting facts about Dubai UAE from 1894 to 1966

There are many historical events in Dubai that you may not be aware of. If you immerse yourself deep into the Dubai infrastructure and development history, you’ll get astounded by the diversity and richness of this place.

Here is a list of interesting facts about Dubai from 1984 to 1966.

Tax exemption for expats in Dubai

In 1894, Al Maktoum invited all foreign traders to settle in the city granting them tax exemption. This saw a huge influx in the number of expats in Dubai who came here to take advantage of the excellent business conditions. Dubai was still reliant on trading, fishing and pearl diving. In the 1950s, artificial pearls were invented in Japan and Dubai suffered some financial consequences as a result of this.

Tax exemption of 1894 is one of the most important facts about Dubai

The First World War dealt a major blow to trade in Dubai

After the invention of artificial pearls and the Great Depression, the international pearl market collapsed, resulting in the need to restructure the economy of Dubai. Sheikh Saeed, the then-ruler of Dubai started looking for other alternative sources of income to ensure a smooth flow of funds.

Tensions between Abu Dhabi and Dubai

There was a dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi that escalated. Armed forces of both states were involved and in 1949, the British intervened and created a border from Ras Hasian coast. Yet, no formal compromise was made. Both states agreed to a truce in 1979, eight years after the creation of the UAE.

Discovery of oil was a major milestone in the history of Dubai

The major turning point in the history of Dubai was the discovery of oil from Dubai Fateh Oil Field in 1966. It changed the economic dynamics of the city forever. Together, Qatar and Dubai created a new currency, the Riyal that enabled Dubai to transcend to greater heights. In 1969, Dubai made the first shipment of oil and cemented its name in history amongst the most progressive cities of the world.

Discovery of oil is one of the most interesting facts about Dubai for kids

Dubai has veto power for matters of national significance

When the British left the Arabian Gulf in 1971, the UAE as we know it today did not exist. In 1979, Dubai along with other emirates united to form the United Arab Emirates. Since then, it was decided that Dubai will have a veto power to decide matters of national significance. Over time other emirates too were granted such decision-making powers, but Dubai still has a major role to play in such concerns.

Dubai has undergone many transformations. From a desert outpost, it has now become a destination du-jour where people come from far and wide to shop, relax and have fun. The city is home to various skyscrapers, multiple malls and plenty of multi-million off-shore developments that distinguish it from other cities of the UAE.

One can buy one-off gems from the best shopping centre in Dubai: Dubai Mall , explore the attractions of City Centre Mirdif or visit the beautiful eco-friendly community, Al Barari . Thus, today the city has everything for everyone and it still keeps changing for the better.

If you want to gain more insights about the places in the city, check out the interesting facts about Dubai Creek Tower, cool insider tips about Burj Khalifa and discover new things about Palm Jumeirah – all at MyBayut, a hub of real estate and lifestyle information in the UAE.


Contents

The area surrounding Abu Dhabi is full of archaeological evidence from historical civilizations, such as the Umm an-Nar Culture, which dates back from the third millennium BCE. Other settlements were also found farther outside the modern city of Abu Dhabi, including the eastern [11] and western regions of the Emirate. [12]

Etymology Edit

"Abu" is Arabic for father, and "Dhabi" is the Arabic word for gazelle. Abu Dhabi means "Father of Gazelle." It is thought that this name came about because of the abundance of gazelles in the area and a folk tale involving Shakhbut bin Dhiyab al Nahyan. [5] [13]

Origins of Al Nahyan Edit

The Bani Yas bedouin was originally centered on the Liwa Oasis in the western region of the Emirate. This tribe was the most significant in the area, having over 20 subsections. In 1793, the Al Bu Falah subsection migrated to the island of Abu Dhabi on the coast of the Persian Gulf due to the discovery of freshwater there. One family within this section was the Nahyan family, which is now the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. [14]

Pearl trade Edit

The pearl diving business was a key industry prior to the discovery of oil reserves. According to a source about pearling, the Persian Gulf was the best location for pearls. [15] Pearl divers dive for one to one-and-a-half minutes and would have dived up to thirty times per day. There were no air tanks and any other sort of mechanical device was forbidden. The divers had a leather nose clip and leather coverings on their fingers and big toes to protect them while they searched for oysters. [16] The divers were not paid for a day's work but received a portion of the season's earnings. [17]

Trucial coast Edit

In the 19th century, as a result of treaties (known as "truces" which gave the coast its name) entered into between Great Britain and the sheikhs of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, Britain became the predominant influence in the area. [18] The main purpose of British interest was to protect the trade route to India from pirates, hence, the earlier name for the area, the "Pirate Coast". After piracy was suppressed, other considerations came into play, such as a strategic need of the British to exclude other powers from the region. Following their withdrawal from India in 1947, the British maintained their influence in Abu Dhabi as interest in the oil potential of the Persian Gulf grew. [19]

First oil discoveries Edit

In the mid to late 1930s, as the pearl trade declined, interest grew in the oil possibilities of the region. On 5 January 1936, Petroleum Development Trucial Coast Ltd (PDTC), an associate company of the Iraq Petroleum Company, entered into a concession agreement with the ruler, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to explore for oil. This was followed by a seventy-five-year concession signed in January 1939. However, owing to the desert terrain, inland exploration was fraught with difficulties. In 1953, D'Arcy Exploration Company, the exploration arm of BP, obtained an offshore concession which was then transferred to a company created to operate the concession: Abu Dhabi Marine Areas (ADMA) was a joint venture between BP and Compagnie Française des Pétroles (later Total). In 1958, using a marine drilling platform, the ADMA Enterprise, oil was struck in the Umm Shaif field at a depth of about 2,669 metres (8,755 ft). This was followed in 1959 by PDTC's onshore discovery well at Murban No.3. [20]

In 1962, the company discovered the Bu Hasa field and ADMA followed in 1965 with the discovery of the Zakum offshore field. Today, in addition to the oil fields mentioned, the main producing fields onshore are Asab, Sahil and Shah, and offshore are al-Bunduq, and Abu al-Bukhoosh. [20]

A pictorial essay of old Abu Dhabi Edit

In 1904, German explorer, Hermann Burchardt, took many photographs of historical sites in Abu Dhabi, photos that are now held at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. [21]

The city of Abu Dhabi is on the southeastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, adjoining the Persian Gulf. It is on an island less than 250 metres (820 ft) from the mainland and is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. A third, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, designed by Zaha Hadid, opened in late 2010. Abu Dhabi Island is also connected to Saadiyat Island by a five-lane motorway bridge. Al-Mafraq bridge connects the city to Reem Island and was completed in early 2011. This is a multi-layer interchange bridge and it has 27 lanes which allow roughly 25,000 automobiles to move per hour. There are three major bridges in the project, the largest has eight lanes, four leaving Abu Dhabi city and four coming in. [22]

Most of Abu Dhabi city is located on the island itself, but it has many suburban districts on the mainland, for example, Khalifa City A, B, and C Khalifa City Al Raha Beach [23] Al Bahia City A, B, and C Al Shahama Al Rahba Between Two Bridges Baniyas Shamkha AL Wathba and Mussafah Residential.

Gulf waters of Abu Dhabi holds the world's largest population of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins. [24] [25] [26] To the east of the island is the Mangrove National Park, located on Al Qurm Corniche. Al-Qurm ( ٱلْقُرْم ) is Arabic for "The Mangrove". [27]

Climate Edit

Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months of June through September are generally extremely hot and humid with maximum temperatures averaging above 41 °C (106 °F). During this time, sandstorms occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility to a few meters. [28]

The cooler season is from November to March, which ranges between moderately hot to mild. This period also sees dense fog on some days and a few days of rain. On average, January is the coolest month of the year, while August is the hottest. Since the Tropic of Cancer passes through the emirate, the southern part falls within the Tropics. However, despite the coolest month having an 18.8 °C (65.8 °F) average, its climate is far too dry to be classed as tropical.

Climate data for Abu Dhabi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.7
(92.7)
38.1
(100.6)
43.0
(109.4)
44.7
(112.5)
46.9
(116.4)
48.8
(119.8)
52.7
(126.9)
49.2
(120.6)
47.7
(117.9)
43.0
(109.4)
38.0
(100.4)
33.4
(92.1)
52.7
(126.9)
Average high °C (°F) 24.1
(75.4)
26.0
(78.8)
29.5
(85.1)
34.5
(94.1)
39.3
(102.7)
40.8
(105.4)
42.1
(107.8)
42.7
(108.9)
40.4
(104.7)
36.5
(97.7)
31.1
(88.0)
26.3
(79.3)
34.4
(94.0)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.8
(65.8)
19.6
(67.3)
22.6
(72.7)
26.4
(79.5)
31.2
(88.2)
33.0
(91.4)
34.9
(94.8)
35.3
(95.5)
32.7
(90.9)
29.1
(84.4)
24.5
(76.1)
20.8
(69.4)
27.4
(81.3)
Average low °C (°F) 13.2
(55.8)
14.6
(58.3)
17.5
(63.5)
20.8
(69.4)
23.8
(74.8)
26.1
(79.0)
28.8
(83.8)
29.5
(85.1)
26.6
(79.9)
23.2
(73.8)
18.7
(65.7)
15.8
(60.4)
21.5
(70.8)
Record low °C (°F) 8.0
(46.4)
5.0
(41.0)
8.4
(47.1)
11.2
(52.2)
16.0
(60.8)
19.8
(67.6)
22.2
(72.0)
23.8
(74.8)
19.0
(66.2)
12.0
(53.6)
10.5
(50.9)
7.1
(44.8)
5.0
(41.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 7.0
(0.28)
21.2
(0.83)
14.5
(0.57)
6.1
(0.24)
1.3
(0.05)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.5
(0.06)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.01)
5.2
(0.20)
57.1
(2.24)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 1.2 2.8 2.8 1.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.5 9.9
Average relative humidity (%) 68 67 63 58 55 60 61 63 64 65 65 68 63
Mean monthly sunshine hours 246.1 232.6 251.1 280.5 342.2 336.9 314.2 307.5 302.4 304.7 286.6 257.6 3,462.4
Source 1: NOAA (1971–1991) [29]
Source 2: Climate Yearly Report (2003-2020) [30]
Abu Dhabi mean sea temperature [31]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
22.2 °C
72.0 °F
20.6 °C
69.1 °F
22.4 °C
72.3 °F
25.0 °C
77.0 °F
29.0 °C
84.2 °F
31.6 °C
88.9 °F
32.7 °C
90.9 °F
34.0 °C
93.2 °F
33.4 °C
92.1 °F
31.5 °C
88.7 °F
28.3 °C
82.9 °F
24.5 °C
76.1 °F

Under the rule of the Department of Municipal Affairs, the city is part of the Central Capital District, [a] which is separate from the eastern and western municipal regions of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The main settlement of the eastern region, officially "Al Ain Region" since a decree by Sheikh Khalifa in March 2017, is Al Ain City, and that of the western region, officially "Al Dhafra Region" as per the same decree, [32] [33] is Madinat Zayed. [1] [12]

Councils such as the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and the Regulation and Supervision Bureau are responsible for infrastructure projects in the city. Finances are mainly through the state government. Because Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, the president's office is located here. [34]

The Abu Dhabi Government Media Office (ADGMO) was formed in 2019 and is responsible for representing the government in the media, organizing press conferences for the emirate and monitoring local and international media. It is a state-sponsored organization that communicates the latest developments in the capital, and the emirate's vision, values and traditions. [35] [36] [37] [38]

Neighborhoods Edit

Architecture Edit

The city was planned under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed by Japanese architect Katsuhiko Takahashi in 1967 initially for a population of 40,000. [39] The density of Abu Dhabi varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in central downtown and lower densities in the suburban districts. In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. Abu Dhabi's skyscrapers such as the notable Burj Mohammed bin Rashid (World Trade Center Abu Dhabi), Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower, [40] the National Bank of Abu Dhabi headquarters, [41] the Baynunah (Hilton Hotel) Tower. [42] and the Etisalat headquarters are usually found in the financial districts of Abu Dhabi. [43] Other notable modern buildings include the Aldar Headquarters, the first circular skyscraper in the middle east [44] and the Emirates Palace with its design inspired by Arab heritage. [45]

The development of tall buildings has been encouraged in the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030, which will lead to the construction of many new skyscrapers over the next decade, particularly in the expansion of Abu Dhabi's central business district such as the new developments on Al Maryah Island and Al Reem Island. [46] Abu Dhabi already has a number of supertall skyscrapers under construction throughout the city. Some of the tallest buildings on the skyline include the 382 m (1,253.28 ft) Central Market Residential Tower, the 324 m (1,062.99 ft) The Landmark and the 74-story, 310 m (1,017.06 ft) Sky Tower, all of them completed. Also, many other skyscrapers over 150 m (492.13 ft) (500 ft) are either proposed or approved and could transform the city's skyline. As of July 2008 [update] , there were 62 high-rise buildings 23 to 150 m (75.46 to 492.13 ft) under construction, approved for construction, or proposed for construction. [47]

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Edit

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque represents a key fixture of the city's architectural patrimony. Its construction was initiated under the administration of the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a key figure in the foundation of the modern UAE. [48]

The mosque was constructed with materials from countries around the world, including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Iran, China, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates. [49] More than 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies took part in the construction of the mosque. Consideration of durability motivated the choice of many materials specified in the design of the structure. These materials include marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals, and ceramics. Construction began on 5 November 1996. The building is large enough to safely contain a maximum of approximately 41,000 people. The overall structure is 22,412 square metres (241,240 square feet). The internal prayer halls were initially opened in December 2007. [48]

As one of the most visited buildings in the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center was established to manage the day-to-day operations, as a place of worship and Friday gathering and as a center of learning and discovery through its education and visitor programs. [50]

In July 2019, the Grand Mosque was listed among the top global attractions by TripAdvisor. As a part of its Travelers Choice Awards, the travel website placed the architectural masterpiece on number three out of the 750 landmarks considered from 68 different countries. [51]

In May 2021, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center attended the Arabian Travel Market 2021 exhibition. This was part of the center's core strategy to be active in the religious and cultural aspects of society. [52]

The Founder's Memorial Edit

The Founder's Memorial, a monument and visitor center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a memorial to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first President of the United Arab Emirates, who died in 2004. The memorial consists of an open Heritage Garden and Sanctuary Garden at the center of which is a cubic pavilion housing The Constellation, an artwork dedicated to Zayed's memory. [53]

Presidential Palace Edit

The UAE Presidential Palace, Qaṣr Al-Waṭan ("Palace of the Nation"), [54] opened to the public in March 2019. [55] [56] It was built on the grounds of Ladies beach and construction was finished in 2018.

Multi-faith worship places Edit

In September 2019, the construction of UAE's first official synagogue was announced to begin in 2020, as a part of the multi-faith "Abrahamic Family House" complex in Abu Dhabi. It will also give space to a mosque and a church, the full construction of which was announced to be completed by 2022. [57]

On 22 September 2019, the Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi held a ceremony to grant licenses to 17 churches and the first-ever traditional Hindu temple. The listed churches were Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches, including St Joseph's Cathedral. The initiative was taken under the slogan "A Call for Harmony", to allow people from all religions and cultures to practice their faith in the country. [58]

Qasr Al Hosn Edit

Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest building in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, built by the Bani Yas tribe in 1761. It was once the seat of the government and the palace of the ruling Al Nahyan family. Today, it is a museum open to all visitors portraying the history of Abu Dhabi and early lifestyles.

Parks and gardens Edit

Abu Dhabi has several parks and gardens and more than 400 kilometres (249 miles) of coastline, of which 10 kilometres (6 miles) are public beaches. [59]

A view from Heritage Park

Turmeric plants at the Heritage Park

Directions Pole at the Heritage Park

Watch Tower at the Heritage Park

Mangroves at Mangrove National Park, near Al Qurm Corniche on Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street in the eastern part of the city [27]

The UAE's large hydrocarbon wealth gives it one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and Abu Dhabi owns the majority of these resources—95% of the oil and 92% of gas. [60] Abu Dhabi thus holds 9% of the world's proven oil reserves (98.2bn barrels) and almost 5% of the world's natural gas (5.8 billion cubic metres or 200 billion cubic feet). Oil production in the UAE was about 2.3 million barrels per day (BPD) in 2010, [61] and projects are in progress to boost production to 3m BPD. In recent years, the focus has turned to gas as increasing domestic consumption for power, desalination and reinjection of gas into oil fields increases demand. Gas extraction is not without its difficulties, however, as demonstrated by the sour gas project at Shah where the gas is rich in hydrogen sulfide content and expensive to develop and process. [20]

In 2009, the government diversified its economic plans. Served by high oil prices, the country's non-oil and gas GDP outstripped that attributable to the energy sector. Non-oil and gas GDP now constitutes 64% of the UAE's total GDP. This trend is reflected in Abu Dhabi with substantial new investment in industry, real estate, tourism and retail. As Abu Dhabi is the largest oil producer of the UAE, it has reaped the most benefits from this trend. It has taken on an active diversification and liberalization program to reduce the UAE's reliance on the hydrocarbon sector. This is evident in the emphasis on industrial diversification with the completion of free zones, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, twofour54 Abu Dhabi media free zone and the construction of another, ICAD II, in the pipeline. There has also been a drive to promote tourism and real estate with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism and Development Investment Company undertaking several large-scale development projects. These will be served by improved transport infrastructure, with a new port, an expanded airport and a proposed rail link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai all in the development stages. [62]

Abu Dhabi's Emirate is the wealthiest of the UAE in terms of Gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita income. More than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in the city. In 2010, the GDP per capita reached $49,600, which ranks ninth in the world. Taxation in Abu Dhabi, as in the rest of the UAE, is nil for a resident or a non-bank, non-oil company. Abu Dhabi is also planning many future projects sharing with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and taking 29% of all the GCC future plannings. The UAE has a fast-growing economy: in 2006 the per capita income grew by 9%, providing a GDP per capita of $49,700 and ranking third in the world at purchasing power parity. Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), currently estimated at $875 billion, is the world's wealthiest sovereign fund in terms of total asset value. [63] Etihad Airways maintains its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. [64]

Abu Dhabi's government is looking to expand revenue from oil and gas production to tourism and other things that would attract different types of people. This goal is seen in the amount of attention Abu Dhabi is giving its International Airport. The airport experienced a 30%+ growth in passenger usage in 2009. [65] This idea of diversifying the economy is also seen in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 [66] planned by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. In this plan, Abu Dhabi's economy will be sustainable and not dependent on any single source of revenue. More specifically the non-oil portion of income is planned to be increased from about 40% to about 70%. [63] As of July 2019, Abu Dhabi allocated $163 million to finance global entertainment partners as part of its plan to diversify the economy and wean it off oil. [67]

Many Hollywood and other national film production teams have used parts of the UAE as filming locations. Neighboring Dubai gets a lot of attention, but in recent years Abu Dhabi has become a popular destination. The Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace Hotel were some of the city's landmarks used as filming locations for the movie Furious 7, in which cars rush through the building and smashed through the windows of the towers. [68]

In 2018, Abu Dhabi launched Ghadan 21, a string of initiatives to diversify the economy. The total injection is AED 50 billion. [69]

There are four main areas these initiatives must fall under business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation and lifestyle. The first phase includes over 50 initiatives that reflect the priorities of citizens, residents and investors. [70]

In 2020, low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic pressed the regional banks of Abu Dhabi to cut off their employees. In July, UAE’s third-largest lender, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) laid off 400 employees, breaking its commitment to not cut staff due to the crisis. [71]

The desalinated water supply and power production are managed by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA). As of 2006 [update] , it supplied 560.2 MiGD (million imperial gallons per day) of water, [72] while the water demand for 2005–06 was estimated to be 511 MiGD. [73] The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) states that groundwater is the most significant source of water, as well as desalinated potable water, and treated sewage effluent. At 40.6 MiGD, the Umm Al Nar storage is the largest water source for Abu Dhabi, followed by the rivers Shuweihat and Taweelah. [74] With falling groundwater level and rising population density, Abu Dhabi faces a severely acute water shortage. On average each Abu Dhabi resident uses 550 litres (120 imp gal 150 US gal) of water per day. [75] Abu Dhabi daily produces 1,532 tonnes of solid wastes which are dumped at three landfill sites by the Abu Dhabi Municipality. [76] [77] The daily domestic wastewater production is 330 MiGD and industrial waste water is 40 MiGD. A large portion of the sewerage flows as waste into streams, and separation plants. [77]

The city's per capita electricity consumption is about 41,000 kWh and the total supplied is 8,367 MW as of 2007 [update] . [78] The distribution of electricity is carried out by companies run by SCIPCO Power and APC Energy. As part of UAE's Energy Strategy 2050 to reduce the carbon emission of power generation by 70%, Noor Abu Dhabi solar park project which is the largest solar project in the world was completed on 2 July 2019. [79] [80] [81] The Abu Dhabi Fire Service runs 13 fire stations that attend about 2,000 fire and rescue calls per year.

State-owned Etisalat and private du communication companies provide telephone and cell phone service to the city. Cellular coverage is extensive, and both GSM and CDMA (from Etisalat and Du) services are available. Etisalat, the government-owned telecommunications provider, held a virtual monopoly over telecommunication services in Abu Dhabi prior to the establishment of other, smaller telecommunications companies such as Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC – better known as Du) in 2006. The Internet was introduced into Abu Dhabi in 1995. The current network is supported by a bandwidth of 6 GB, with 50,000 dialup and 150,000 broadband ports.

Etisalat announced implementing a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Abu Dhabi during the third quarter of 2009 to make the emirate the world's first city to have such a network. [82]

Abu Dhabi in the 1970s was planned for a predicted topmost population of 600,000. Following the urban planning ideals of the time period, the city has high-density tower blocks and wide grid-pattern roads. [83] The population density is at its apex on the most northerly part of the island. At this point, the main streets have a large amount of 20- to 30-story towers. These towers are in a rectangular pattern, and inside is an ordinary grid pattern of roads with low rise buildings such as 2-story villas or 6-story low-rise buildings.

Due to this planning, a modern city with tall offices, apartment buildings, broad boulevards, and busy shops is present. Principal thoroughfares are the Corniche, Airport Road, Sheikh Zayed Street, Hamdan Street, and Khalifa Street. Abu Dhabi is known in the region for its greenery the former desert strip today includes numerous parks and gardens. The design of the inner city roads and main roads are quite organized. Starting from the Corniche, all horizontal streets are oddly numbered, while all vertical streets are evenly numbered. Thus, the Corniche is Street No. 1, Khalifa Street is Street No. 3, Hamdan Street is Street No. 5, Electra Street is Street No. 7 and so on. Conversely, Salam Street is St No. 8. [84]

Mail is generally delivered to post-office boxes only however, there is door-to-door delivery for commercial organizations. There are many parks throughout the city. Entrance is usually free for children, however, there is often an entrance fee for adults. The Corniche, the city's seaside promenade, is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) in length, with gardens, playgrounds, and a BMX/skateboard ring. [85]

In 2007 the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) was established, which is the agency responsible for the future of Abu Dhabi's urban environments and the expert authority behind the visionary Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan that was published in September 2007. [46] The UPC is also working on similar plans for the regions of Al-Ain and Al-Gharbia.

Because of the rapid development of Abu Dhabi, a number of challenges to the city's urban organization have developed, among them:

  • Today, the city's population far surpasses the original estimated maximum population when it was designed. This causes traffic congestion, a shortage of car parking spaces, and overcrowding.
  • Although there is an addressing system for the city, it is not widely used, causing problems in describing building locations. Directions must often be given based on nearby landmarks.
  • However, there is a new naming system under the name of Onwani which is overhauling the entire addressing system of the entire Abu Dhabi Emirate. Its phases have already been implemented and are a success. The addressing system is up to international standards

In 2018, Abu Dhabi was ranked the safest city in the world for the second year running by the statistical analysis website Numbeo. [86]

Human rights organisations have heavily criticized violations of human rights in Abu Dhabi. As with other parts of the UAE, foreign workers are not given proper treatment [ citation needed ] and many companies (both government and private) have yet to improve things. [87]

As the emirate covers 67,341 km 2 (26,001 sq mi), nearly 87% of the UAE, the population density is 21.73/km 2 (56.3/sq mi), making it the largest emirate in the UAE. [90]

Abu Dhabi also ranks as the 67th most expensive city in the world and the second-most in the region behind Dubai. [91]

As of 2014 [update] , 477,000 of 2,650,000 people living in the emirate were UAE nationals. Approximately 80% of the population were expatriates. [92] The median age in the emirate was about 30.1 years. The crude birth rate, as of 2005 [update] , was 13.6%, while the crude death rate was about 2%. [93]

Article 7 of the UAE's Provisional Constitution declares Islam the official state religion of the UAE. [94] The government subsidises almost 95% of mosques and employs all imams. A majority of mosques are Maliki or Muwahhid oriented. [95] The majority of the inhabitants of Abu Dhabi are expatriate workers from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and various countries from across the Arab world. Some of these expatriates have been in the country for decades with only a few of them awarded citizenship. [96] Consequently, English, Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani), Malayalam, Tamil, Tulu, Somali, Tigrinya, Amharic and Bengali are widely spoken. [97]

The native-born population are Arabic-speaking Arabs who are part of a clan-based society. The Al Nahyan family, part of the al-Falah branch of the Bani Yas clan, rules the emirate and has a central place in society. [98] There are also Arabs who are from other parts of the Arab World.

One of the busiest streets in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street, also known as Salam Street, which goes near Al Qurm Corniche. [27] Corniche is also the other main street in Abu Dhabi, it overlooks the Persian Gulf.

Air Edit

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the city's main aviation hub and the second busiest airport in the UAE. Passenger numbers at Abu Dhabi International Airport rose by 17.2 percent in 2015, with more than 23 million travelers passing through its terminals during that year. A 2nd runway and new terminal was also built recently [99]

Al Bateen Executive Airport was the old international airport in Abu Dhabi until the one above opened in 1982. Now it is being used by the military and small commercial planes.

On 30 June 2019, the Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi officially inaugurated a multi-faith prayer room at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Located away from the main airport, the prayer room aims at enhancing the country's "position as an international hub for tolerance". [100]

Public transport Edit

Public transport systems in Abu Dhabi include the Abu Dhabi public buses, taxis, ferries, and hydroplanes. [101] Street taxis are easily recognized. They are either silver with a yellow roof sign (newer taxis) or white and gold with a green roof sign (older taxis). All the old taxis have been phased out. There are no old taxis available for transportation anymore. [102]

The first town bus entered service in about 1969 but this was all part of a very informal service. There are other inter-city buses departing the Abu Dhabi central bus station these inter-city buses are not only intra-emirate buses, but also inter-emirate services. On 30 June 2008, the Department of Transport began public bus service in Abu Dhabi with four routes. [103] There are also public buses serving the airport. In an attempt to entice people to use the bus system, all routes were zero-fare until the end of 2008. [104] The four routes, which operate between 6 am and midnight every day, run at a frequency of 10 to 20 minutes. [104] Within the first week of service, the bus network had seen high usage. Some of the buses, which have a maximum capacity of 45 passengers, only had room for standing left. Some bus drivers reported as many as 100 passengers on a bus at one time. [105] Due to the new, zero-fare bus service success, many taxi drivers were losing business. Taxi drivers have seen a considerable decrease in the demand for taxis while lines were forming for the buses. [106] The service steadily expanded and by the end of 2008, 230 buses were in service. In 2009, the Department of Transport plans to have 21 bus routes in the city, operated by 820 buses. A total of 1,360 buses are expected to be in operation by 2010. [105]

A massive expansion of public transport is anticipated within the framework of the government's Surface Transport Master Plan 2030. [107] The expansion is expected to see 130 km (81 mi) of metro and 340 km (210 mi) of tramways and/or bus rapid transit (BRT) routes.

Water transport Edit

The Emirate has many ports. One is Port Zayed. The others are Musaffah Port and Khalifa Port, which opened in 2012. [108] They are owned by Abu Dhabi Ports Company and managed by Abu Dhabi Terminals. [109]

A couple of ferries are operated by the government. [110]

Abu Dhabi has a diverse and multicultural society. [111] The city's cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogeneous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals—first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by various Asian and European ethnicities in the 1950s and 60s. Abu Dhabi has been criticised for perpetuating a class-based society, where migrant workers are in the lower classes, and suffer abuse which "is endemic to the system". [112] Major holidays in Abu Dhabi include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Adha which marks the end of Hajj, and National Day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates. [113]

This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Abu Dhabi is generally more tolerant than its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. [114] Emiratis have been known for their tolerance Christian churches, Hindu temples, and Sikh gurdwaras (with the first synagogue commencing construction in 2020) can be found alongside mosques. The cosmopolitan atmosphere is gradually growing and as a result, there are a variety of Asian and Western schools, cultural centers and themed restaurants.

Abu Dhabi is home to a number of cultural institutions including the Cultural Foundation and the National Theater. The Cultural Foundation, while closed for reconstruction as of spring 2011, is home to the UAE Public Library and Cultural Center. [115] Various cultural societies such as the Abu Dhabi Classical Music Society have a strong and visible following in the city. The recently launched Emirates Foundation offers grants in support of the arts, as well as to advance science and technology, education, environmental protection, and social development. The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) will be based in Abu Dhabi. The city also stages hundreds of conferences and exhibitions each year in its state-of-the-art venues, including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) which is the Persian Gulf's largest exhibition center and welcomes around 1.8 million visitors every year. [116]

The Red Bull Air Race World Series has been a spectacular sporting staple for the city for many years, bringing tens of thousands to the waterfront. [117] Another major event is the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC). [118]

The diversity of cuisine in Abu Dhabi is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of society. Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma to the upscale restaurants in the city's many hotels. Fast food and South Asian cuisine are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though not illegal, is regulated and it is sold only to non-Muslims in designated areas. [119] Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol however, alcohol, although available in bars and restaurants within four or five star hotels, is not sold as widely as in its more liberal neighbor Dubai. [120] Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Abu Dhabi.

Poetry in Abu Dhabi and the UAE is highly regarded and often is centric around the themes of satire, religion, family, chivalry, and love. According to an article from an Abu Dhabi tourism page, sheikhs, teachers, sailors and princes make a large bulk of the poets within the UAE. A unique form of poetry to the UAE was formed in the 8th century by Al Khalil bin Ahmed and it was written in 16 metres (52 feet). Another Emirati poet, Ibn Daher is from the 17th century. Daher is important because he used Nabati poetry (AKA Bedouin poetry), poetry written in the vernacular instead of the classical/religious Arabic. Other important poets from the UAE are Mubarak Al Oqaili (1880–1954), Salem bin Ali al Owais (1887–1959) and Abdulla bin Sulayem (1905–1976). These poets made headway in the field of Classical Arabic poetry as opposed to the Nabati poetry of the 17th century. [121]

Today in Abu Dhabi there is a group called the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation that works to preserve the art and culture of the city. According to an article from the English Pen Atlas Al Jawaher wal la'li was the first manuscript to come out of the UAE. According to another article this book was written in the 1990s and was banned in the city for some time for making accusations about the ruling family. [122]

On September 21, 2020, Abu Dhabi removed the requirement for an alcohol license for drinkers in the emirate, despite being the conservative capital of the UAE. The historic modification was implemented due to the economic challenges that occurred amidst the coronavirus pandemic. [123]

Abu Dhabi is home to international and local private schools and universities, including government-sponsored INSEAD, New York University, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, New York Institute of Technology, Higher Colleges of Technology, New York Film Academy, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi University. These boast several languages that make up the population of the city. For example, the international business school established a campus in February 2010, offering an Executive MBA and executive education courses. New York University opened a government-sponsored satellite campus in Abu Dhabi in September 2010. [124]

All schools in the emirate are under the authority of the Abu Dhabi Education Council. This organization oversees and administers public schools and licenses and inspects private schools. From 2009, the council has brought over thousands of licensed teachers from native English speaking countries to support their New School Model Program in government schools.

Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) maintains a comprehensive after-school program for interested and talented jiujitsu students. [125] The Abu Dhabi Jiujitsu Schools Program began in 2008 under the patronage of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a keen Brazilian jiujitsu competitor. The program launched in 14 schools for pupils in grades 6 and 7 and has since expanded to 42 government schools, with 81 Brazilian coaches brought in as instructors. [126]

9 to 13-year-old students are taught Brazilian jiu-jitsu as part of the curriculum. The plan is for up to 500 schools to be participating in the school-Jitsu program by 2015. The project was set up by special request of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the head coach of the Emirates jiujitsu team, Carlos "Carlão" Santos, now also the managing director of the School-Jitsu Project. [127]

Every year in the season of admissions an exhibition is launched in Abu Dhabi Exhibition Center under government supervision. [128] Universities from every corner of the world exhibit their career programs and scholarship programs. Heriot-Watt University, University of Bolton, Cambridge University, Oxford University, the Petroleum Institute, Khalifa University, and Abu Dhabi University attend.

In October 2019 Abu Dhabi announced the world's first graduate-level AI research institution, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI). It enables graduation for students, businesses and governments to advance artificial intelligence. The university began accepting applications for masters and PhD programmes a year before the classes, which are scheduled to begin in September 2020. [129]

Abu Dhabi has four football stadiums: Al Jazeera Stadium, Al Wahda Stadium and Sheikh Zayed Football Stadium (Zayed Sports City) and Hazza Stadium. ZSC also contains a tennis court, an ice rink, and a bowling alley. The Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium is located on the outskirts of the city and is currently home to the Pakistan Cricket Team. The stadium hosts at least two series per year in the last 4 years. In 2014, the stadium also hosted one leg of the Indian Premier League. It has also been considered as a venue for the B Pakistan Super League too. The stadium also hosts the annual Abu Dhabi T10 Cricket League which sees international players from around the world and U.A.E. play competitive limited overs games. In 2021 the postponed 2020 competition was held in January and February with the scheduled 2021 competition to be held later.

Football and cricket are very popular in the city. Many people play football in parking lots near the Corniche because of the pleasant weather and space. Cricket is also popular because of the South Asian ex-pats. There have been many small competitions conducted between small-time football and cricket teams.

Another location known as the Dome has been created for mainly football events among others. The purpose behind the development of the [email protected] was to create a community football and sporting facility with indoor and outdoor pitches in the heart of the city of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Edit

Since 2009, Abu Dhabi has hosted a Formula One race every year in November or December at the Yas Marina Circuit. Motorsport is popular throughout the country and the circuit has also hosted other events such as the V8 Supercars series of Dubai.

Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Edit

Abu Dhabi regularly hosts the International Judo Federation Abu Dhabi grand slam. Engendering some criticism, the International Judo Federation refused to allow the Israeli flag and the Israeli national anthem at the international games in 2017. Some referred to this action as anti-Semitic. [130] [131] The ban on Israeli symbols was lifted in 2018 and Israeli flag and the national anthem was allowed to be displayed. [132] Israeli minister of sports Miri Regev was also allowed to attend the event. [132]

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Edit

In March 2019, Abu Dhabi hosted the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East. The event took place from 14 to 21 March 2019 and featured more than 7,500 athletes participating in 24 sporting disciplines. The official World Games Flame of Hope was lit in Athens and flown to Abu Dhabi, where it then embarked on the torch run, visiting all seven emirates of the UAE. [133]

Since 2010, Abu Dhabi has become one of the major shooting spots for Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood films. Some of the films featuring Abu Dhabi are (in ascending order of release):


1.In the 󈨔s: According to the UAE history, in the 󈨔s British signed treaties with the local rulers and British rulers took over foreign affairs and the emirate on internal affairs.

2.In the 󈨞s: The 󈨞s as per the UAE history witnessed a lot of changes such as a number of rulers came into power, oil was discovered and transported for the first time outside the Trucial States. During these Iran occupied their Islands.

Later they freed themselves from the Britishers and finally the UAE was formed. The UAE also laid the foundation for Gulf Cooperation Council.


Live history project tells of UAE's maritime past

DUBAI // An ambitious live history project focusing on the residents of Dubai and the rest of the UAE and their memories of the sea was launched yesterday by ports company DP World.

The Dreams of the Sea: The Dubai Maritime History Project was announced at the Heritage Village at an event attended by diplomats, business heads and government officials.

The two-week exhibition, which begins today, showcases sepia-tinted photographs of an age when pearl divers and fishermen depended on the sea for their survival. Bilingual videos of historians and divers speaking of their family's maritime links will also be screened.

A video booth has been set up where Emiratis and expatriates can record their own stories. These videos will be reviewed and added to an interactive website, www.dreamsofthesea.ae

Among the first to record her thoughts was Mahra Alaryani, an Emirati graduate of Zayed University.

"I remember my grandmother's stories about how the men would spend three to six months at sea and what the sea meant to them," she said.

"Their food was mainly from the sea it was the reason for their existence, it was the main source of their lives."

At the official opening, Jamal Majid bin Thaniah, the vice chairman of DP World, spoke of the transformation of the emirate and traced Dubai's history as a commercial port.

"The people of Dubai turn the smallest opportunity into ambitious ideas," he said.

"Through this exhibition we would like the people to tell the story of its maritime history through film and images."

Mr bin Thaniah also recalled growing up in Dubai. "My friends and I used to run along the sandy banks of the creek, breathing in the salty fresh air of the sea and feeling the buzz of the dhows and vessels loading and unloading cargo."

The project also includes the release of a book, Dreams of the Sea, in Arabic and English before April.

Ali Saqr Al Suweidi, the president of the Emirates Environmental Marine Group, spoke of a time when people's lives were linked to the sea, before the discovery of oil.

"My family is a pearl-diving family and I would hear stories from my father and grandfather about how for months men at sea would sometimes strike lucky and sometimes not find any luck," he said.

"To live in this country they had to really work hard and this is the heritage I'm trying to teach the children.

"It's important to tell these stories to people of my country and those outside."

Shatha Al Mulla, an architect and engineer with the Architectural Heritage department of the Dubai Municipality, said youth could draw inspiration from the past.

Ms Al Mulla drew a connection with her own fascination of sketching boats to her family maritime heritage.

"My great grandfather was a pearl diver and my grandfather was a businessman who traded in pearls all over the world . My sketches of boats sailing into the open sea translated into a design project in university."

Ms Al Mulla tracked the emirate's growth from 1822 when there were 1,200 residents and 90 boats for pearl diving and fishing to 1908 when the population grew to 10,000 and 400 boats and today's population of 2 million and 25,000 boats entering annually.

Like other speakers, she stressed the need to preserve the country's maritime history for the next generation.

The exhibition also displays old photographs of Dubai, featuring dozens of sandstone homes with wind towers bordering the Creek and the beginnings of Jebel Ali port in the early 1980s.

Dreams of the Sea runs from January 14 to 27 at the Dubai Heritage Village in Shindagah Historical Area.


Watch the video: The Moment of Dubai and UAE Before The Discovery of Oil (August 2022).