You might have heard a lot lately about the United Arab Emirates—specifically their most populous city, Dubai. The reason for this is the remarkable growth and success that this confederation of states and cities has had in the past few decades. What was once just a collection of tribes and villages in the desert has quickly converted itself into a huge international hub of commerce and travel. Below are just a few of the most interesting facts about the UAE.
- The UAE, as its name implies, is a collection of different city-states that has joined together into one political entity. Before 1971 the UAE was more or less a British colony, administered but also protected by the British.
- One-fourth of all of the world’s working cranes are in Dubai. This is because Dubai is continually booming, pushing the growth of skyscrapers and other works of architecture.
- Dubai also contains the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa. This skyscraper is half a mile tall and can be seen from miles away.
- Dubai is home to some of the world’s largest manmade islands. These islands, stretching along the coast of the city, are given unique shapes, such as that of the planet earth or of a massive palm frond.
- Most of the UAE is extremely arid and contains almost no fresh water. Much of the water they use for both drinking and watering their climate controlled greenery is desalinated sea water.
- Abu Dhabi contains the most inclined building in the world, the Capital Gate.
- The Dubai Mall in Dubai is the world’s largest mall.
- The majority of Dubai’s population is foreign-born. Native people only make up a small fraction of the population. While most of these migrants come from India, Dubai boasts an extremely eclectic and multicultural population, home to hundreds of nationalities and languages.
- The UAE has grown massively over the last few decades. As recently as the 50s, many of the emirates looked more like villages or even shanty towns than actual cities. An oil boom in the mid 20th century created most of the wealth, although nowadays oil accounts for only a small fraction of the country’s GDP.
- While Dubai is the largest and best recognized city, the capital of the UAE is actually Abu Dhabi.
- The emirate of Abu Dhabi is the largest in terms of landmass, with more land area than the other 6 emirates combined. However, most of this land is highly arid and unfit for agricultural or residential purposes.
- Before it was a oil or trading hub, Dubai was a port. Because of its strategic location, it was utilized to a great extent by India, that relied heavily on the pearl industry. To this day Dubai and India maintain close trade relations.
- Some ATMs in Dubai will dispense money in bars of pure gold.
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