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United Arab Emirates

Dubai Marine at night The United Arab Emirates (UAE), sometimes known simply as the Emirates, is a country on the Persian Gulf. It is made up of seven emirates (states), each ruled by an emir with absolute power. Most of the land in the UAE is desert, and the climate is arid, making it extremely hot all year round. Along the coast is a region of wide salt flats known as the sabkha. Inland, a dry, windy desert plain merges with the rolling sand dunes of the Rub' al Khali (“Empty Quarter”). A small area of uplands in the east is the only place in the country that receives rain. A number of small islands lie offshore, many fringed by coral reefs. The UAE’s economy has grown rapidly since the discovery of oil in the 1950s. Today, the UAE is one of the world’s wealthiest countries and many of its inhabitants have a very high standard of living.



A map of the United Arab Emirates

Construction workers in Dubai

People

Emirati people are an Arab people, whose ancestors come from the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and East Africa. The UAE has an unusual population: only around a fifth are Emirati citizens, while the rest are expatriates, foreign workers who come to work in its oil, construction and finance industries. The largest group are from South Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and most of them are male. 

In 2013, Dubai’s international airport overtook London Heathrow to become the busiest in the world.

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