United Arab Emirates

Climate || Government || Culture || Education || Visas || Taxation


The United Arab Emirates was established on 2 December 1971 as a result of two distinct, but related, events. One was the signature by the Government of the United Kingdom and the rulers of the seven emirates (formerly known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman) of separate instruments bringing to an end the treaty relationship that had existed between other was the them since the early nineteenth century. The other was the agreement between rulers of six of the emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qiwain and Fujairah, the previously July, to establish a federation to be known as the United Arab Emirates simultaneously with the ending of the treaty relationship with Britain. The seventh emirate, to the new federation Ras Al Khaimah, formally acceded on 10 February country.1972. Abu Dhabi was chosen to be the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The new federation state had its basis in the Provisional Constitution. Adopted by the rulers on behalf of their emirates, it represented a consensus on the form of the state which they agreed to establish, and on the concessions that they agreed to make with relation to a surrender of part of their sovereign powers to the new federal body. In July 1996, the Supreme Council of the Federation decided unanimously to drop the word 'Provisional' from the Constitution.

Since the establishment of the Federation, the UAE has become a member in regional and international organisations. It has joined the Arab League and the United Nations. The country is also a member of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (AGCC) and a number of other international organisations.

The United Arab Emirates is now entering its 27th year and celebrated its Silver Jubilee in December, 2nd 1996. Since its birth as a federation of seven Emirates, the UAE has developed at a rate guaranteed to stagger even the most hardened of international commentators. The success of the diplomatic efforts that gave birth to the Federation, and which have continued to nurture it throughout its growth, owe much to astute leadership that has enabled a surge of progress hardly equaled anywhere in the world. It has witnessed a remarkable and swift economic development, which is very difficult to attain even in the most developed communities. The UAE has rapidly maximised the benefits obtained through its immense oil proceeds to cater for the basic requirements of the society. The UAE has lived up to the expectations of the international community, and generously stood by Arab World countries, and other developing countries in the rest of the world.

Much of this site is a catalogue of development and a celebration of achievements, and the UAE's citizens have every right to be proud of the many areas of progress that can be seen in the country today.

U.A.E. has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Sunny, blue skies can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter. Temperatures range from a low of about 10.5°C /50 °Fto a high of 48°C/118.4°F. The mean daily maximum is 24 °C/75.2 °F in January rising to 41°C/105.8 °F in July.

Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings. Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, U.A.E. has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing, for example low-cut dresses, very short skirts, or tight shirt or top in public. At the pool or on the beaches, trunks, swimsuits and bikinis are quite acceptable. Good quality sunglasses are advised, and photochromatic lenses for those who wear spectacles. Hats, or some protection for the head, are advisable when in direct sunlight.


The Supreme Council of the UAE, comprising the hereditary rulers of the seven emirates, is the highest federal authority. It is responsible for general policy matters involving communications, education, defence, foreign affairs and development, and for ratifying federal laws. The President, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, who is also Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the Vice-President, HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Ruler of Dubai, are elected by the Supreme Council from among its members.

The Federal Council of Ministers, responsible to the Supreme Council, has executive authority to initiate and implement laws. The Federal National Council is a consultative assembly of 40 representatives who are appointed for two years by the individual emirates. The council monitors and debates government policy but has no power of veto. While Abu Dhabi is the centre of federal government activities, most ministerial departments also maintain offices in Dubai.

The UAE became a member of the United Nations and the Arab League in 1971. It is a member of the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and other international and Arab organisations, including the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (AGCC), whose other members are Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. In its foreign relations, the UAE's stance is one of non-alignment but it is committed to the support of Arab unity.

In matters unrelated to diplomacy and defence, each emirate enjoys considerable autonomy in managing its own affairs. In business, the government of Dubai is committed to liberal, free market policies and to the creation of a business environment conducive to commercial activity. This approach is well illustrated by the incentives available to investors in the Jebel Ali Free Zone and by the continuing high level of public sector investment in the infrastructure.



U.A.E.'s culture is firmly rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia. Courtesy and hospitality are among the most highly prized of virtues, and the visitor is sure to be charmed by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people. U.A.E.society is marked by a high degree of tolerance for different lifestyles. Foreigners are free to practice their own religion, alcohol is served in hotels and, provided reasonable discretion is shown, the dress code is liberal. Women face no discrimination and may drive and walk around unescorted.

Despite rapid economic development in recent years, U.A.E. remains close to its heritage. Local citizens dress in traditional robes and headress. Arab culture and folklore find expression in poetry, dancing, songs and traditional art. Weddings and other celebrations are colourful occasions of feasting and music. Traditional sports such as falconry, camel racing and dhow racing at sea continue to thrive.

Islam is the official religion of the UAE and there are a large number of mosques throughout the country. Other religions are respected and U.A.E. has Christian churches all over in different states.

Ramadan is the holy month in which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Holy Koran. The timing of Ramadan is not fixed in terms of the western calendar, but occurs a few days earlier each year.

It is a month of fasting when Muslims abstain from all food, drinks and cigarettes during from dawn to dusk. Visitors are also required to refrain from consuming these items in public places during this time as a sign of respect.

The of official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken and understood Both languages commonly used in business and commerce.

Alcohol is available in hotel and club restaurants and bars. However, restaurants outside the hotels are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Permanent residents who are non-Muslims can obtain liquor supplies without difficulty under a permit system.

Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings or military installations should not be taken.



All visitors except AGCC nationals (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia) require a visa sponsored by a local entity such as a hotel or tour company.

There are two types: transit visas for 14 days and visit visas for 30 days (renewable). Airlines may require confirmation that the sponsor is holding a valid visa for incoming visitors. British citizens with the right of abode in the UK and expatriate residents of the AGCC of certain nationalities and professions may qualify for automatic 30 day visit visas on arrival, but current regulations should be checked before travelling.

German and US citizens may obtain visas from the UAE Embassies in their respective countries. Visas are easily obtainable for other visitors except Israelis and travellers whose passports bear Israeli stamps.

No health certificates are required for entry to United Arab Emirates, but it is always wise to check before departure, as health restrictions may vary, depending upon the situation at the time.

Duty-free allowances: Cigarettes—2,000; cigars—400; tobacco—2kg; alcohol non-Muslim adults only)—2 litres of spirits and 2 litres of wine; perfume — a reasonable amount. No customs duty is levied on personal effects entering United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates Duty Free has a sales outlet in the Arrivals Hall (but alcohol may only be purchased on departure).

There is a comprehensive network of government schools throughout the emirate, providing free primary and secondary education to UAE nationals. The Ministry of Education runs 34 boys' schools, 32 girls' schools and 10 kindergartens. These work to an Arabic curriculum. There are also 27 private institutes and 22 evening schools for adults. For expatriate families, there are 79 private foreign schools offering education of a high standard to the curriculum requirements of the UK, USA and a number of others including Italy, Japan, Iran, India and Pakistan. In neighbouring emirates there are French and German schools. English is usually the main language of instruction, but other languages are used as necessary by foreign schools.

There is no corporate tax in UAE. The only exceptions to this are oil producing companies and branches of foreign banks. Likewise, there are no personal taxes. Direct taxation is against the traditions of the UAE and it is highly unlikely that it will be introduced in the near future.

There are no exchange controls in the UAE and its currency, the UAE dirham, is freely convertible. The dirham is linked to the USA dollar, the currency in which oil revenues are paid. The current exchange rate is Dh. 3.675 - US$ 1 and no revaluation has occurred since 1977.

The regulatory authority since 1980 has been the UAE central Bank. Some 47 commercial banks operate, with a total of around 350 branches, of which about 28 are foreign banks with a combined total of more than 200 branches. Federal law restricts foreign banks to no more than eight branches each.

Towards the end of 1992, the UAE President enacted three Federal Laws on the protection of industrial and intellectual property. These laws came into effect in 1993 and provide protection against commercial piracy and fraud. The laws are: Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 on Trademarks, Federal Law No. 40 of 1992 on Protection of Intellectual Property and Copyright, and Federal Law No. 44 of 1992 on Protection of Industrial Property.

There is a comprehensive framework of legislation to ensure that business in the UAE is conducted in a fair and orderly manner. There are laws dealing with commercial transaction, intellectual property, labour and other aspects of business life. Dubai has many local and international law firms willing to advise foreign business organisations on legal matters. There are Federal Courts in all emirates except Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, which have retained their local courts. Dubai has civil, criminal and Shariah (Islamic) Courts of first instance. All court decisions may be brought to the Dubai Court of Appeal. Thereafter, a final appeal may be made to the Dubai Court of Cassation. The Civil Court (as opposed to the Shaiah Court) has jurisdiction over labour, civil and commercial transactions, as well as personal matters (e.g. wills, divorces etc.) relating to non-Muslims. The language of the Courts is Arabic and advocates admitted to plead are Arab nationals.

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