The United Arab Emirates or the UAE formed in 1971 and consists of 7 states or what is known as ‘Emirates’.
The seven emirates are:
- Abu Dhabi
- Umm Al Quwain
- Ras Al Khaimah
Most Emirates started off as desert, but a couple of them took a turn and metamorphosed into something that you may find on an architect’s drawing of their impression of the future.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the country and it accounts for 87% of the country’s land area.
It is also the wealthiest with reserves, accounting for 95% in oil and 92% in gas. There is a large dependence on oil as most of the Emirate is built on this resource.
Dubai is the most populated emirate, with almost 4 million, that has undergone the largest transformation from a barren desert to a huge, sparkling metropolis.
As a result, development and infrastructure have been on a huge incline. They are known to constantly break world records to be the ‘best’, ‘biggest’ and ‘tallest in the world’.
They are so driven with breaking records that they are even breaking their own records of building a 1000 km skyscraper, which will be taller than their current, 828 metres high, Burj Khalifa.
Sharjah is the only one that shares its borders with the six other emirates. It was where the first school, library and municipality was established in all of UAE. Sharjah led the way for fostering women’s rights and inaugurate education for women. It was UNESCO-listed in the late 90s, as the Arab Capital of Culture.
Ajman is the smallest Emirate in terms of area, with 260 square kilometres with beautiful beaches.
Umm Al Quwain
Umm Al Quwain is the least populated of all the Emirates and did not follow suit when some of its neighbouring Emirates rose sky-high with skyscrapers and extravagant malls.
If you want to see what Abu Dhabi and Dubai used to look like, you will get a pretty good idea from here. This emirate predominantly has focus on fishing as its main source of income.
Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation later in 1972 and is known to have the most fertile land out of the Emirates since it receives the most rainfall.
Fujairah is only Emirate to have the whole Eastern Coastline to itself. It does not have any sandy dunes but has mountains, valleys, hot springs, gorges and even coral reefs.
There is a different royal family ruling each Emirate, the most notable ones being the one in Abu Dhabi, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also happens to be the President of the U.A.E. The other notable ruler is the one from Dubai known as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Language and Literacy
The UAE shares borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman and the sides without land mass have the Persian Gulf on the Western side of the country and Gulf of Oman on the Eastern side.
The UAE has a high literacy rate of 93% (source) with a population of 9.8 million people. Arabic is the official language, but most people speak English.
It is a fairly streamlined process to get a tourist visa. If you are visiting for 30 days, you can extend it twice up to 90 days, which can be organised as single or multiple entries.
You can only get a visa done for you by an emirate airline or an emirate hotel you are staying with, so you will need to get in touch with them if you plan to take this route.
There are restrictions placed on people under 18, so check the conditions before you start planning your travel.
Free visas can be obtained for children under 18 travelling with their parents or another adult.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
One of the unique aspects of the UAE is that there was no tax implied on any goods you purchased. However, in 2018 this changed when a 5% VAT was introduced by the government.
Having mentioned that, tourists are still able to make a claim on the purchases they make as long as they fulfil the criteria such as the retailer, that the product was purchased from, must be participating in the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme and you must depart from the country within 90 days of purchase. You can find further qualifying criteria here.
Since the VAT introduction, a number of self-service kiosks have been launched. These kiosks are managed by an organisation called Planet and you can begin your claim directly with them online. An administrative fee of 15% is applied to claims and you can find them at airports. By the end of 2020, you can find them in selected malls and hotels too so it is even more convenient for you!
To read more about UAE, visit here.
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Dubai is the hub of United Arab Emirates. It is the emirate that is constantly breaking world records…