United Arab Emirates Overview


Official name of the state

United Arab Emirates (UAE)


Abu Dhabi.


The Emirates border on the Persian Gulf and the Musandam Peninsula (enclave of Oman) to the north, Oman to the east, Saudi Arabia to the west and Qatar to the northwest. The state consists of an alliance of seven sheikdoms. Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate; the other sheikdoms are known as the “Northern States.” These are Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al-Qaiwain and Ras al-Khaimah. The country is mountainous and consists mostly of desert. Abu Dhabi is flat, sandy, and within the boundaries is the Buraimi oasis. Dubai has a deep, 16 km long estuary, which earned the area the nickname “Venice of the Gulf”. Sharjah has a deep sea port in Khor Fakkan on the Pirate Coast that overlooks the Indian Ocean.Ras al-Khaimah is the fourth largest emirate. Fujairah is one of the three smaller sheikdoms, lies on the Batinah coast and has agricultural areas. Ajman and Umm al-Qaiwain have developed from former fishing villages on the coast.


Federal constitutional monarchy. Federation of seven autonomous emirates since 1971. Provisional constitution from 1971, permanent since 1996. Islam is the state religion. The highest power lies with the Supreme Council of Sheikhs, which is formed by the seven emirs and determines the head of state. All decisions must be supported by at least five rulers, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The National Assembly (Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani) with 40 appointed members only has an advisory role. Political parties are not allowed. Independence since 1971 (from Great Britain).

Head of state

Sheikh Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan (Emir of Abu Dhabi), since 2004.

Head of government

Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktum (Emir of Dubai), since January 2006.


220 V, 50 Hz. Three-pin plugs are widely used. An adapter is recommended.

Time zone

Gulf Standard Time: CET +5



95% Muslim (mainly Sunnis), Christian and other minorities.

Social rules of conduct

General: Visitors should know about the Islamic religious laws and behave accordingly. Despite the apparently liberal social climate in the United Arab Emirates, a country located in Middle East according to globalsciencellc, visitors should respect Islamic morals. The exchange of caresses in public, homosexuality and illegitimate intercourse are prohibited by law. Some common drug ingredients in Europe, such as codeine, are classified as narcotic drugs in the United Arab Emirates, making them illegal to possess.

Etiquette: Men and women greet each other with a short handshake, but it is not common in business life for people of different sexes to shake hands. You should always be humble and respectful towards yourself, also towards the service staff. Shouting is frowned upon even in a dispute. Before entering a private house or a mosque, shoes must be removed. Anyone who sits with crossed legs may neither show the soles of their feet nor point their feet at another person, as this is taken as an insult. The left hand should never be used to present or receive anything. When invited, it is considered polite to drink two small cups of coffee or tea, always holding the cup in your right hand. It is considered impolite to refuse an offered drink. The host’s children are happy about a little something, but guests should refrain from giving gifts for the wife of the house. Men should avoid coming into contact with or observing unrelated Arab women. Discussions about religion and politics should be avoided. Conversations usually only take place between people of the same sex.

Clothing: Well-groomed, casual clothing is acceptable on the street, but knees and shoulders should be covered. Women should dress cautiously; deep necklines and see-through fabrics should be avoided. Arab women will only be seen wearing long sleeves in public. Formal wear is appropriate for official occasions. Jeans and tennis shoes are not permitted in many restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Bikinis are allowed on some beaches as long as a top is worn and it is not thong panties.

Photographing: It is forbidden to photograph or film military facilities, ports, bridges, airports, rulers’ palaces, public buildings, industrial plants, and oil or natural gas plants. In the event of a violation, the camera / film / chip will be confiscated and arrest can be expected in individual cases. People should be asked before they are photographed. Those who take photos of strangers without asking, risk a prison sentence of six months and a fine.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in some emirates in public places, in public buildings such as shopping malls, offices, schools, universities, in post offices, at the hairdresser’s as well as in restaurants, cafes, bars and cinemas as well as on some beaches and gardens. During the fasting month of Ramadan, non-Muslims are also prohibited from eating, drinking or smoking in public during the day; Exceptions apply to bars and restaurants in some hotels.

Tip: Although a service fee is usually already included in the hotel or restaurant bill, waiters expect a tip of 10-15% for good service, otherwise you should at least round up. This rule does not apply in simpler restaurants and cafes. Other service providers such as porters, hairdressers and housekeeping also expect a small tip. In a taxi, the fare is usually rounded up.

United Arab Emirates Overview