Your guide to being an expatriate in United Arab Emirates

Caffeinate Your United Arab Emirates Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. Each emirate is autonomous, with its own ruler and government, but they all share a common history, culture, and heritage. The UAE gained independence from Britain in 1971 and has since emerged as a global business hub and tourist destination. With a combination of cutting-edge technology, world-class infrastructure, and rugged desert landscapes, the UAE is a captivating and dynamic destination for expats and visitors.

United Arab Emirates

Expat destinations in United Arab Emirates

Demographics of United Arab Emirates:

Ethnic groups

Emirati: 15.4%, Iranian: 24.9%, Bangladeshi: 19.5%, Indian: 20.8%, Pakistani: 10.1%, Egyptian: 4.8%, Other Arab: 1.3%, Sri Lankan: 2.3%, Filipino: 1.5%, Nepalese: 2.7%


Arabic (official), English (widely used in business and government), Persian, Hindi, Urdu, Filipino

Religion Overview

Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and over 90% of the population is Muslim. The UAE follows a conservative interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia) in both legal and social matters, and religious observances are an integral part of everyday life.

Major Religions


The UAE has a hot desert climate, characterized by long, dry summers and short, mild winters. Temperatures can soar above 50 °C (122 °F) in the summer, while winter lows often drop below 10 °C (50 °F). The region's isolation from the ocean results in little rainfall, with almost the entire country classified as either hyperarid or arid.

Economy Overview

The UAE has one of the most dynamic and diversified economies in the Middle East. Led by hydrocarbon exports and supported by a thriving services sector, the UAE's GDP grew at an annual average of 3.9% between 2010 and 2020. The UAE also boasts a relatively high standard of living, with a per capita income of over $52,000. The UAE's economy is highly dependent on its oil and gas reserves, accounting for roughly 60% of government revenue and 30% of GDP.

Key Industries

  • Finance and banking
  • Real estate and construction
  • Tourism
  • Trade and commerce
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport and logistics
  • Information technology and telecommunications
  • Healthcare and education
  • Infrastructure development

Major Companies

  • Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)
  • Emaar Properties
  • Dubai Islamic Bank
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
  • Dubai Healthcare City
  • Emar Transport and General Contracting
  • National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD)
  • Dubai Holding
  • Air Arabia

Culture and Language Overview

The UAE's culture is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition and Bedouin customs. Arabic remains the primary language, and Islam plays an integral role in everyday life, as exemplified by the classical Arabic call to prayer (adhān) that echoes through the cities each day. The UAE is also renowned for its modern architecture, and the flourishing art and fashion scenes attract a diverse and cosmopolitan community.

Cultural Highlights

  • Traditional Bedouin markets (souks)
  • Henna art
  • Oud music
  • Camel races
  • Arabic coffee ceremonies
  • Camel rides
  • Al Ain Oasis (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX)
  • Umm Al Nar lighthouse

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Located in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, the UAE spans an area of roughly 83,600 km² (32,312 sq. Miles). Its diverse geography includes vast sand deserts, misty mountains, lush oases, and rugged coastal plains. The UAE is crossed by a number of major highways, while its ports provide a gateway to the Indian Ocean and beyond.

Notable Landmarks

  • Burj Al Arab (a luxurious hotel and iconic symbol of Dubai's skyline)
  • The Dubai Fountain (the world's largest choreographed fountain system)
  • Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world)
  • The Palm Jumeirah (an artificial island shaped like a palm tree)
  • Dubai Mall (the world's largest shopping mall by total land area)
  • Saadiyat Island (an expansive cultural and entertainment district)
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (a stunning tribute to traditional Islamic architecture)
  • Fujairah Fort (an imposing fortress dating back to the 16th century)
  • Al Ain Oasis (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lush oasis in the desert)
  • Dubaï Miracle Garden (the world's largest floral garden)

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Commemoration Day (December 1)
  • National Day (December 2)
  • Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Succession Day (January 4)
  • Fatimah bint Mubarak Women's Day (August 28)
  • Isra and Mi'raj (July 12)
  • Eid al Fitr (varies)
  • Eid al Adha (varies)
  • Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (varies)
  • Communion Day (varies)

Political Stability

The UAE is a federal constitutional monarchy, with an inherited political system and a de facto strong executive branch. The Federal National Council, a bicameral parliament, has the power to advise the government and scrutinize legislation, but it cannot initiate legislative or parliamentary proceedings. The UAE's economy is heavily dependent on natural resources, but the government has invested heavily in infrastructure development, diversifying the economy, and promoting foreign investment. Despite facing some regional geopolitical challenges, the UAE enjoys relative stability and security, and its National Service Obligation binds every male citizen to defend the country.

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