United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven states - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaiwain formed in 1971 after independence from Britain. Although internal politics are prone to instability, because of the uncertain nature of the federation and boundary disputes, the ruling families in the two main emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have managed to stabilise the federation
Abu Dhabi City is essentially a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers.UAEs' capital, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges, is often accused of being a rather soulless place, but it does have its attractions: the Petroleum Exhibition and the Heritage Village, the beautiful Corniche, the Al Hisn Fort, the old souk, the Breakwater Island and Sheikh Zayed's palace. The most picturesque place is undeniably the Batin, the oldest part of the town, where the small harbours receive the daily catch brought by the fishing dhows.
A federation of seven Emirates, the UAE ( United Arab Emirates ) came into being on December 2, 1971. Since then, the country has made tremendous progress in all fields. Dubai, the second largest of teh seven emirates, has traditionally been a commercial centre and has now consolidated its position on the key trading route between the East and the West.
Although the early history of Dubai is not very well documented, archeological discoveries suggests that, as long as four thousand years ago, small fishing communities lived along the coast of the Arabian Gulf on the site of what we know today as Dubai.There are records of the town of Dubai from 1799, which was a dependent of the settlement of Abu Dhabi until 1833. The then sheikh of Dubai was a signatory to the British sponsored General Treaty of Peace of 1820.In 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty of the Bani Yas tribe left the settlement of Abu Dhabi and took over the town of Dubai, "without resistance". From that point on, Dubai, a newly independent emirate was constantly at odds with the emirate of Abu Dhabi. An attempt by the Qawasim pirates to take over Dubai was thwarted.
In 1835, Dubai and the rest of the Trucial States signed a maritime truce with Britain and a "Perpetual Maritime Truce" about two decades later. Dubai came under the protection of the United Kingdom by the Exclusive Agreement of 1892.The rulers of Dubai fostered trade and commerce, unlike the town's neighbors. The successful early development was in large parts due to the foresight of Dubai’s rulers. The city has benefited from the stabilizing influence of two exceptionally long rules: that of H H Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum from 1912 to 1958, followed by that of his son, H H Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed al-Maktoum.
For many years prior to his father’s death in 1958 Shaikh Rashid has played a leading role in directing the state. Since then he has guided Dubai in its expansion from a small, old-world town to a modern state with excellent communication, and industrial infrastructure, and all the comforts of contemporary life. He ruled Dubai for over 30 years, during which time large projects like the Jebel Ali free zone, World Trade Centre and Dubai International Airport were sanctioned.
The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen (chiefly Indians), who settled in the town. Until the 1930s, the town was known for its pearl exports. The international trade which flowed from Dubai’s cosmopolitan contracts was the basis of it’s rapidly increasing prosperity. This gave the city an early start in development before the beginning of oil production in the late 1960s. Like the other towns along the coast, Dubai had been severely affected by the decline of the pearling industry, due to competition in the 1930s from Japanese cultured pearls, and by the drop in trade in the Second World War.
After the devaluation of the Gulf Rupee in 1966, Dubai joined the newly independent state of Qatar to set up a new monetary unit, the Qatar/Dubai riyal. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent at that time), became important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centers were headquartered in this area.In 1971 when the British left the Persian Gulf, Dubai together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates. The UAE dirham was adopted in 1973 as the uniform currency, by Dubai and the other emirates.
Oil and gas are the Emirates’ main industries, and underpin the country’s considerable prosperity. Outside the oil and gas sector, which includes refining and the production of oil-derived chemicals, most economic activity is government sponsored, and designed to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on oil. This strategy has been reasonably successful and the oil sector’s contribution to GDP is now down to about 45%.
Chemicals, aluminium and steel production are the most important of the new industries. Other newly established industries produce consumer goods for the domestic market. There is some agriculture, mostly livestock rearing, in what is an unfavourable climate; fishing is also significant..
The economy has boomed in recent years. At the end of 2005, the International Monetary Fund predicted the UAE's economy would become the third largest in East and Central Asia. Most of the country’s economic development has been concentrated in the two richest and most powerful of the seven emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai; the remainder are relatively underdeveloped.
UAE is a member of OPEC, and of the Gulf Co-operation Council which is increasingly concerning itself with regional economic collaboration. Plans to establish a customs union among the six member states are well advanced, and the GCC has sought advice from the EU on the creation of a single currency.
Summers, mid-May to mid-September, are hot and humid and day temperatures are generally upward of 40 degree C.
Islam is the official religion of all of the emirates. A vast majority of the locals are Sunnis. There are foreign minority Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians as well. Dubai is the only emirate that has Hindu temples and a sikh gurudwara.
The Meena Bazaar area of the city has Religious Temples of Shiva and Krishna. Both are believed to be sanctioned by the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. There is an electric crematorium run by a group of Indian expatriates. Non-Muslims in the country are free to practice their religion but may not proselytize publicly or distribute religious literature. The government follows a policy of tolerance towards non-Muslims and Polytheist; in practice, interferes very little in the religious activities of non-Muslims.
In early 2001, ground was broken for the construction of several additional churches on a parcel of land in Jebel Ali donated by the government of Dubai for four Protestant congregations and a Catholic congregation. Construction on the first Greek Orthodox Church in Dubai (to be called St. Mary's) would begin at the end of 2005, members of the Eastern Orthodox Christian community in the UAE have had to use churches of other denominations for services, untill General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister, donated a plot of land in Jebel Ali.
Apart from donated land for the construction of churches and other religious facilities, including cemeteries, non-Muslim groups are not supported financially or subsidised by the government. However, they are permitted to raise money from among their congregants and to receive financial support from abroad. Christian churches are permitted to openly advertise certain church functions, such as memorial services, in the press.
Custom & Regulations
The following items may be imported into the United Arab Emirates without incurring customs duty:
Prohibited Imports: Firearms and dangerous weapons, religious propaganda, unstrung pearls except for personal use, raw seafood (only when visiting Dubai and/or Sharjah), fruit and vegetables from cholera-infected areas.
Note: It is prohibited to bring alcohol into Sharjah and usually not allowed if entering the UAE by land.
Any person wishing to vist the UAE must have an entry visa.
A VISIT visa is valid for 30 days, renewable twice upto a total of 100 days including a grace period of 10 days. It takes one week to 10 days for a visit visa to be issued. An express service also exists.
TRANSIT Visa's are issued for 15 days only and cannot be extended or renewed. Some travel and tour operators can arrange for Transit / Tourist visas. Large Hotels can sponsor transit visas for tourist and business visits.Any person wishing to vist the UAE must have an entry visa.
Please Click Here for further visa informations and visa application form.
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Getting Around United Arab Emirates
Getting There by Air: The national airlines are Emirates (EK) and Gulf Air (GF).Daily flights link Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Flights can also be chartered and there are small landing fields throughout the United Arab Emirates.
Getting There by Road: Traffic drives on the right. There are good tarmac roads running along the west coast between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah; between Sharjah and Dhaid; and linking Dubai with other Northern States and the interior.Limited services link most towns. However, most hotels run their own scheduled bus services to the airport, city centre and beach resorts.Taxis are vailable in all towns. In Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain, urban journey fares are metered, whilst fares for longer journeys should be agreed in advance. There is a surcharge for air-conditioned taxis. Many travellers find taxis to be the quickest and most convenient method of travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.Most international car hire companies have offices at airports or hotels. A passport and either a valid international or national licence are necessary.The speed limit in built-up areas is 60 to 80kph (37 to 50mph) and 100 to 120kph (62 to 74mph) elsewhere.An International Driving Permit is recommended, although it is not legally required. A local driving licence can be issued on presentation of a valid national driving licence, two photos and a passport.
Getting There by Sea: Cruises call at Abu Dhabi and the cruise terminal in Dubai, and there are passenger services to the USA, the Far East, Australia and Europe. There are regular sailings between Sharjah and Bandar-é-Abbas (Iran).Commercial and passenger services serve all coastal ports. A water taxi travels between Dubai and Deira across the creek.