United Arab Emirates


located on the Arabian Gulf



expatriates comprising 60%


Dirham(Dhs) There are:

  • Dhs 5.6 = £1.00
  • Dhs 3.65 = $US 1.00

The UAE is primarily located on the Arabian Gulf. It is bordered on its landward sides by Saudi Arabia (mainly the Empty Quarter) and Oman. The Coastline of the UAE stretches from Qatar in the West almost to the Straits of Hormouz at its northernmost parts. The Emirate of Fujairah and some parts of Sharjah have access to the East coast of the peninsular on the Gulf of Oman. The total land area of the UAE, including some 200 islands is approximately 83,000 sq kms.

All of the major cities in the UAE are on the coast apart from Al Ain, site of the Emirates University which borders Oman some 150 kms inland from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi Emirate in the South contains over 80% of the land. The other emirates are generally called the Northern Emirates.

The population of the UAE is over 2 million. The largest cities are Abu Dhabi and Dubai with populations of over 300,000 each. Sharjah, the next largest has 200,000 and the other Northern Emirates of Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Umm Al Qaiwain the rest. Ajman is the smallest in land area with only 250sq kms and Umm al Qaiwain has the smallest population at 40,000, much less than Al Ain, second city of Abu Dhabi.

The population mix contains many expatriates, over 60% of the population with substantial communities of Pakistanis, Indians, Persians, other Arabs and Westerners in the major population centres. The Emiratis themselves have a diverse cultural backgrounds with many of Indian and Persian origin having been assimilated into the communities for many years.

The UAE is composed of seven emirates and each emirate has its own capital. The federal capital is Abu Dhabi located in the largest, richest, most populous and therefore most influential emirate. It is the centre of federal government and the home of the President of the UAE – Shaikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi.


The currency of the UAE is the Dirham (Dhs). The exchange rate is Dhs 5.6 = £1.00 or Dhs 3.65 = $US 1.00. There are no controls over taking money out of the UAE.


Time Zone
The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT.

Social Climate
The UAE and Dubai in particular are the most popular destinations for expatriates seeking employment in the Middle East. More than anywhere, these are the locations where the expatriate can experience a lifestyle similar to that in their home country.

The UAE is an Islamic country and there are as many Mosques there as there are anywhere however there is also a marked tolerant attitude towards other faiths and to the cultural differences apparent in the expatriate populations. Any guide to living and working in Abu Dhabi will have pages and pages of addresses and advertisements for restaurants, clubs, hotels, fast food outlets health clubs nightclubs, shops and sporting activities of all kinds and Dubai is considered as an even more vibrant and socially relaxed city.

For sporting and leisure activities the UAE is unparalleled in the Middle East; international horseracing, tennis, golf, powerboating, sailing, scuba diving and most other sports are available as well as the popular expatriate sport of wadi bashing (desert driving in a 4×4). Most things can be purchased in the UAE – shops with familiar names can be found on most shopping streets and in the modern shopping centres. Traditional souks are large in Dubai, particularly the gold souk and smaller in Abu Dhabi.

Despite the familiarity of the UAE for the expatriate and the deserved reputation as the most relaxed locations in the region the UAE is a conservative country in most respects even in the cities and especially in rural regions. In the cities swimming costumes and short skirts on females and shorts on males should not be worn outside of sports and recreation areas and respect for the prevailing dress code and local customs are important.

The usual prohibitions apply in the importation of drugs, pornography and firearms. Alcohol can be imported by non muslims and is available in hotels and restaurants across the UAE with the exception of Sharjah which prohibits the importation and consumption of alcohol. As with the rest of the gulf there is very little serious crime in the UAE.

Schooling in the UAE for the expatriate is plentiful and varied. In Au Dhabi alone there are at least 10 schools offering a British curriculum, six American, numerous Indian and Pakistani and French, German, Japanese, Canadian and Arabic private schools. Schooling is available from nursery age to university entrance and childcare is readily available.

This information is selective. It provides background and useful details on aspects of the United Arab Emirates. It should not be considered the definitive source and further sources should be referred to for other specific information.



General Information
The UAE is a diverse place geographically, climatically and economically. The oil production for the whole state is over 2 million barrels a day and owns almost 10% of the worlds known viable oil reserves. Abu Dhabi is responsible for the vast majority of oil production and consequently is the richest of the emirates whilst the others have varying levels of production and reserves. Dubai produces perhaps 20% of Abu Dhabi’s levels whilst Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah produce modest amounts. The other states have no meaningful production and rely on subsidy from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Tourism is becoming a ever increasing source of income for all emirates.

Dubai has been a major trading city for 200 years and before the oil revenue began to flow in the 1960 Dubai was already using the profits from trading to modernise. Abu Dhabi was a village 40 years ago and its rise dramatically emphasises the changes brought by oil.

There are probably no more modern cities than Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the country as a whole has also been transformed – total comprehensive education up to university level for males and females, high quality healthcare, housing, social welfare and all the benefits of a modern society are available to all citizens. 40% of GDP comes from service industries.

Abu Dhabi is recognisable as a new gulf city full of outstanding landmark buildings, large hotels, business areas, glittering shopping centres and sporting facilities It is planned on a grid in honour of the car, with grand avenues and main highways. It is ordered and neat and tidy. Its small souk is easily missed amongst the modern shops.

Dubai is a contrast. It has developed and as it has grown outwards its newer area have taken on some of the uniformity of Abu Dhabi however its centre is a city developed over many years and it is cramped, bustling and hectic. The souks are large enough to get lost in and roads are not in straight lines. Driving in the side streets requires patience.

There are underpasses and major roadways in and out of Dubai, linking parts of the city and crisscrossing The Creek by bridge or tunnel but Dubai feels as is should, a trading city.

The UAE has 4 English language newspapers, and Radio and TV stations. Tap water is safe to drink, Electricity runs on 220/240 volts and British square 3 pin plugs are used.

Accommodation or an allowance for accommodation is provided by employers in the UAE. This can be in the form of a apartment or house/villa. Single staff may be accommodated in shared facilities. Due to the size of the cities in the UAE accommodation is never too far from the place of employment


As with the Middle East in general summers in the UAE are hot, winters mild and coastal regions humid. The variety of the terrain of the UAE, remarkable for such a small country, means climatic differences are apparent in different parts of the UAE.

The southern area of Abu Dhabi and as far north as Dubai and Sharjah is scrub desert and slat flats whereas in the more northerly emirates the terrain becomes more fertile and mountainous. Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are considered to be the most scenic locations in the UAE. The Emirates of the East Coast have high water tables and hence are greener and also catch the Indian Monsoon. There is usually a sea breeze tempering the heat.

Average temperatures across the UAE are between 35 and 45 degrees in the Summer months of March to October and 20 to 30 degrees the rest of the year. The night time average in winter is 15 degrees although mountainous and desert locations such as Al Ain will be colder. Rainfall occurs in December, January and February.