The United Arab Emirates is a fascinating country tucked away in the Middle East, on the Persian Gulf at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. A culturally colourful country, the Emirates doesn’t stop to amaze with its kaleidoscopic ethnic diversity, and these facts about UAE tell it all. It is a federation made up of seven emirates, namely, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. Each of the seven emirates are full of wonders. The endless list of world records held by the country makes it even more exciting.
Confused about where to go this vacation? Well, not anymore. We bring you 55 interesting facts about UAE that will make you add it to your travel checklist:
About the Emirates:
1. The Smallest Emirate
Ajman is the smallest emirate in the UAE. It covers an area of about 260 square kilometres and is home to beautiful beaches and museums. It is well known for its cultural attractions. Make sure you check out the Ajman Museum, set up in an eighteenth-century fort.
2. The Largest Emirate
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is the largest emirate and accounts for about 87% of the UAE’s total area. Now, this is an interesting fact about UAE, it also holds the maximum part of the nation’s oil reserve – 95% of the oil and 92% gas.
3. The Least Populated Emirate
Umm al-Quwain is the least populated emirate out of the seven. Do not forget to enjoy the winding water slides at the Dreamland Aqua Park – the most abundant water-themed park in the state. You can also go over to the Emirates Motorplex and enjoy some thrilling racing activities.
4. The Mountainous Emirate
Fujairah, the fifth-largest emirate is the only emirate that is majorly mountainous. It is also the home to the oldest mosque in the UAE, which was built in 1446.
Fujairah is the only emirate out of the seven that has a coastline solely on the Gulf of Oman and none on the Persian Gulf. It has the famous Hajjar Mountain Range (popularly known as the Oman Mountains) and many forts.
5. The Fertile Emirate
Ras Al Khaimah, located at the northernmost part of the UAE, is the most fertile emirate and receives maximum rainfall.
6. The UAE has more than one royal family
A different royal family rules each of the seven emirates in the UAE. The most famous and influential among all are the Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Al Maktoum of Dubai.
7. Freedom without any struggle
This is an interesting fact about UAE, unlike other countries who went through great effort and violence to free themselves from the colonial rule of Great Britain, the UAE gained their independence through peaceful agreements (mainly because of the UAE’s leverage over the discovery of oil).
However, it was late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Father of the Nation, who brought all of the seven emirates together into a country.
8. Neither a constitutional monarchy nor a republic
The UAE is a federal presidential elected monarchy. It is a federation of seven absolute monarchies of the seven Emirates. The emir of the Abu Dhabi serves as the president. The president is also the Supreme Commander in Chief of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Supreme Petroleum Council. Whereas, the Emir of Dubai serves as the Prime Minister. These titles are hereditary.
The firsts, the biggest, the largest, the tallest, and the best!
9. Creating New World Records Every Year
The UAE is known to come up with surprising world records every year. Be it the tallest, largest, biggest, best, one of its kind – the UAE is full of these. The number of world records held by the UAE till date is 190! It has its own Guinness World Records office in Dubai. Now isn’t this a ‘record-breaking’ fact about UAE.
10. Largest Airport Terminal in the World
Terminal 3 of the Dubai International Airport, is, in fact, the largest airport terminal in the world. It is no less than a shopping mall. It features a 5-star hotel – Dubai International Hotel, many apple stores, a swimming pool, a gym, Snoozecubes, jacuzzi and not one but TWO zen gardens! This makes your layover at Dubai Airport quite sorted.
The Dubai International Airport is also the second busiest airport in Asia. The airport also has the fastest Wi-Fi speed of any airport in the world!
11. Go Green, Go Clean!
Initiated in 2006, the Masdar City is a planned city project in Abu Dhabi and aims at being the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. The primary source of power used here is solar energy and wind energy. The electricity is generated with the help of photovoltaic panels. It is indeed a precious investment in ensuring sustainable human development.
12. A High Economic Freedom Score
The UAE is said to have the ninth highest economic freedom score in the world, according to the World Economic Freedom Index. Financial freedom is described as the ability of people of a society to take economic actions.
13. Home to the World’s Tallest Building
Of course, we’re talking about Burj Khalifa! No mention of the Emirates is complete without talking about this massive skyscraper. At the height of 828 meters, it is equivalent to about 3 Eiffel Towers standing on top of each other. It takes more than 36 workers and three months to clean its shining glass facade. This superstructure alone holds many world records such as the tallest building, the highest number of stories, most upper outdoor observation deck, most towering elevator service and much more.
14. World’s Most Inclined Building
The Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi is the world’s most inclined building. It has 35 floors and boasts an 18 degree lean, which is 14 degrees more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
15. World’s First 7 Star Hotel
Now for a ‘luxurious’ fact about UAE, the Burj Al Arab is the world’s first seven-star hotel and is considered one of the most luxurious in the world. The interiors of the hotel are embellished with 24-carat gold leaves that cover about 1790 square meters. The funny part is that it even has a ‘Pillow Menu’ that offers nine types of pillows to guests! Hope you pick your pillow, right!
16. Largest Mall in the World!
The Dubai mall is one of the largest malls in the world! It is spread over an area of 12 million square meters. It has over 1200 stores, 26 cinema screens and over 120 cafes and restaurants.
17. “Live the epic adventure!”
IMG Worlds of Adventure, located in Dubai, is the largest indoor themed entertainment destination in the world! It is spread over a vast area of 1.5 million square feet and can welcome more than 20,000 guests in a day! The park features 17 themed rides based on popular Cartoon Network characters, Marvel Super Heroes and animatronic Dinosaurs. Make sure you don’t miss on this one while your visit to Dubai.
18. A Flower Garden in the Middle of a Desert!
Well, this might take a moment to sink in. The Miracle Garden in Dubai is the most extensive flower garden in the world! A miracle, indeed. Spread over an area of about 72,00 square meters, the Miracle Garden is covered with floral sculptures, flower bedding and floral themes. It features more than 50 million flowers and 250 million plants. Not visiting this haven of flowers, while you’re in Dubai is no less than a sin!
19. First Ferrari Branded Theme Park
This fact about UAE is for all the automobile enthusiasts. The Ferrari World is the first Ferrari branded theme park in the world. The world’s fastest roller coaster Formula Rosso is also located here. The Formula Rosso can speed up to a staggering 239 kilometres per hour in about 4 seconds! However, kids are not allowed to ride on it.
20. Largest Suspended Aquarium
The Dubai Aquarium Tank, with a capacity of 10 million litres, is the largest suspended aquarium in the world! It is situated at the ground level of the Dubai Mall. It has the most extensive collection of Sand Tiger Sharks in the world. The aquarium houses more than 33,000 aquatic animals from over 200 species.
21. Ski resort in the middle of a desert!
Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, equipped with skiing slopes complete with ski lifts. About 22,500 square meters of the area is covered with REAL SNOW! In addition to this, it also shelters penguins as a part of the conservation program. You’ll find this inside the Mall of the Emirates.
22. World’s Biggest Picture Frame!
Dubai boasts of having the biggest picture frame in the world. The Dubai Frame, which is 492 feet tall, towers above the city’s skyline and is a famous tourist hotspot.
23. The Dubai Dino
A 155-million-year-old fossil of Diplodocus Longus – famously known as the ‘Dubai Dino’ is permanently on display in the Dubai Mall. It is one of the few fossils in the world excavated with almost ALL bones intact!
24. World’s Tallest Chocolate Sculpture
To mark the 43rd National Day of UAE, a replica of the Burj Khalifa was made using the Belgian chocolate. The height of the sculpture was about 13.52 meters, thus making it the tallest chocolate structure in the world. Hope this fact about UAE didn’t make you hungry!
25. World’s Longest Handmade Gold Chain
The ‘Dubai Celebration Chain’ was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Dubai shopping festival. It is the world’s longest handmade gold chain. Weighing close to 240 kilograms and measuring to about 5 kilometres in length, the chain took 45 days and 100 artisans in its production. It was cut into pieces and sold to the customers.
26. World’s Largest Hand-woven Carpet
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi has the world’s largest hand-woven carpet, which was manufactured by the Iran Carpet Company. The 5630 square-meter carpet was created in 9 parts and assembled in the mosque. The mosque also has the world’s third-largest chandelier made from stainless steel, brass and 24-carat gold. The construction of the mosque itself took 11 years to finish.
27. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The Yas Marina Circuit on the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It is the second Formula One track in the Middle East, with the first being in Bahrain. It can hold up to 60,000 spectators and is equipped to hold events even at night.
28. Man-made Islands
Dubai has four human-made islands- The Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali, Deira Island and The Worlds. The Palm Jumeirah is one of the largest human-made islands in the world! This island is designed in the shape of a palm tree with fronds and branches spreading out. It is more like a mini-city. The Palm Jumeirah has many hotels, homes and is even equipped with a monorail.
29. World’s First Minister for Artificial Intelligence
On 20 October 2017, the world and the UAE got its first minister of state for Artificial Intelligence. Omar Sultan Al Olama, 27, was the mastermind behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution and aimed at making the UAE the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence.
More of a Pro-Feminist Country:
30. Believes in Egalitarianism
Although men outnumber women in the UAE, women here are highly empowered and respected. Now doesn’t this fact about UAE make the nation a tad bit different than other Arab nations?
“The UAE’S track record of empowering women…is a story to be told globally and an example to be followed around the world.”
– Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF
31. A Strikingly High Literacy Rate
The UAE has a literacy rate of 93%. The literacy rate of women in the UAE is 95.8%. A surprising 77% of Emirati women enrol in higher education, and about 70% of ALL university graduates in the country are women! Not only this, 46% of UAE university graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are women. Way to go, UAE!
32. Breaking the Stereotypes
Around TWO-THIRDS of the public sector jobs in the UAE are filled by women! Women-owned businesses contribute to about 10% of the total value of the private sectors. It is also the first country in the world to make it mandatory for corporations and government agencies to include women in their Board of Directors.
About 20% of the diplomatic corps in the UAE are women. These include female ambassadors to the United Nations, Finland, Latvia, Denmark, Portugal and the Holy See.
33. Youngest Government Minister in the World!
Shamma Al Mazrui, who currently serves as the Minister of State for Youth Affairs, was the youngest government minister in the world when she was first appointed, at the age of 22 in 2016. Not only this, more than 25% of cabinet-level ministers in the UAE are women.
34. First Military College for Women in the Region
The UAE also boasts of owning a military college for women, first of its kind in the region – Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School; opened in the year 2014.
Facts about culture:
35. Culturally Colorful and Diverse
The UAE resident population consists of more than 200 nationalities. The expats comprise about 80% of the people that includes Indians (majority), Pakistanis, East Africans, Iranians and others.
36. Islam is the Official Religion
Islam is the official religion in the UAE. However, it is not forced upon the visitors and tourists. It has over 40 churches and cathedrals and other places of worship.
The official language here is Arabic. Since a significant part of country’s population constitutes of expats, many other languages are also widely spoken such as English, Hindi, Malayalam, Farsi, Nepali, Urdu, Mandarin, Russian, Sinhalese etc.
37. No Whingeing About Monday Morning Blues!
The week starts on a Sunday in the UAE! Sunday in UAE is like any other day, and kids go to school and people off to work. They have Friday and Saturday as their weekends.
Many Middle East countries follow this schedule because Friday is a unique religious day for afternoon prayers in Islam.
38. Falcons are the National Bird!
The falcons hold a special place in Emirati culture and heritage. Falconry – the art of keeping and training falcons, is a popular pastime and is still alive in the UAE. The falcon also appears on their National Emblem. They are owned by the royal families as well as the residents and are looked after with much care and affection. Now here’s an interesting fact about UAE, they’re so special that they even require a passport for leaving the country!
39. Camels are an Important Part of the Culture
Camels have been an integral part of the Emirati tradition and culture for decades. Camel racing is the UAE’s most loved sport. The country even has 15 fully equipped camel racing tracks. The best part is, the camels also have a beauty pageant! The Al Dhafra Camel Festival takes place every year in December in Abu Dhabi and showcases the fascinating bedouin lifestyle. Well, that asks ‘a camel to go through the eye of the needle’!
40. The National Animal is NOT a Camel
Despite the cultural and visual dominance of camels in the country, the UAE’s national animal is an Arabian Oryx. The oryx is a medium-sized animal with two long straight horns and a short tufted tail. A picture of the oryx is printed on the 50 Dirham currency note.
41. Festival of Falconry? Surprising isn’t it!
The famous Khalifa Park hosts the Abu Dhabi Festival of Falconry every year in December. The exhibition attracts the participation of hundreds of falconers from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.
Other Interesting Facts:
42. The Discovery of Oil Fuelled the Growth
The discovery of oil in the UAE in the 1960s was the key reasons behind the country’s economic development and growth. Oil exports account for about 30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
43. Pearling was a Major Industry
Before the discovery of oil in the 1970s, pearl diving and fishing were the most prominent and essential industries and a primary source of income for the people in UAE.
The tradition of pearl diving originally put the UAE on the world map for international trade with SouthEast Asia, East Africa, Great Britain and bought immense wealth and recognition to the UAE.
44. Tourism has a Major Chunk in the GDP
More than 12 million tourists visit the UAE every year! Tourism accounts for about 10% of the nation’s GDP.
45. Strong Bilateral Ties with the US
United Arab Emirates is the only Arab nation and one out of the three countries to participate with the US in five significant coalition actions over the past 20 years, namely, Somalia, Bosnia, First Gulf War, Afghanistan and Libya. The UAE hosts more than 20,000 US military personnel every year. Abu Dhabi has a Joint Air Warfare Center where UAE and US pilots regularly train together. Dubai also claims to be the busiest foreign US Navy port of the car.
46. The Worlds Islands
The most fascinating of all human-made islands in the Worlds. It is an artificial archipelago of many small islands shaped together in the form of the world map. It has one island for every country like Lebanon, the United Kingdom and others.
47. A Near Zero Crime Rate
Abu Dhabi is known to be one of the safest cities in the world and boasts of a near-zero crime rate.
48. Environmentally Conscious
In Spite of being the world’s major oil exporter, the UAE in 2005 raised concerns and asked for the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol.
49. The Income Tax in Dubai is Zilch!
This fact about UAE is for those who wish to work in the Emirates. Dubai does not levy an income tax on the resident’s income. This zero tax policy is one of the significant benefits of living in Dubai! But as of 2018, they introduced income taxes.
50. Cha-ching! Its Raining Gold!
Dubai is often known as the ‘City of Gold’. The Gold Souk is the largest market for gold and jewellery in the world. The city also has ATMs that dispense gold bars!
51. A Hospital for Falcons
The Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi examines and treats more than 11,000 falcons a year. The fun part is, the falcons even get pedicures! Their talons get trimmed not polished. This is done to prevent infection they might get by the overgrown nails.
52. The Dubai Metro is Automated!
The Dubai Metro is the most reliable form of transport in the UAE. Well- maintained and always on time; the most exciting part about the metro is that it is not manually driven. An accurate electronic system automates all the trains! Cool, isn’t it?
53. Lost in Dubai? Not anymore!
Until 2015, Dubai has no address system, no zip codes, no area codes and no postal system. To deliver a package safely, one had to list detailed instructions to the desired destination. However, in 2015, a unique 10-digit code called Makani numbers were assigned to all buildings to help locate them.
54. The Dubai Police Cars are Extra Fancy
The Dubai Police has way more pizzazz than any police force in the world. They have a range of supercars such as the exotic Bugatti, Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini, Camaro, Mercedes and many more; at their disposal. The fastest of them Veyron can go up to an astonishing 407 kilometres in an hour! These cars are used for patrolling heritage sites and tourist areas.
So if you find an exotic fleet of cars saying ‘POLICE’ whizzing past you, don’t be surprised!
55. Enjoy the Delicious Camel Milk Chocolates!
In the UAE, camel milk is used to make biscuits and chocolate. These are a must-try. Camel milk is believed to contain ten times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow’s milk. In addition to this, it is more healthy, digestible and has lower cholesterol content than cow’s milk.
You can ice creams and chocolates made with camel milk at the Al Majlis in the Dubai Mall.
The UAE is a fascinating country and will never cease to surprise the world with its impressive accomplishments. And, now that you’ve had a run-through these super-amazing facts about UAE, I’m sure you are already planned with your next vacation destination. Make sure you cover as many places from this list and enjoy to the fullest!