UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Capital | Abu Dhabi
Population | 4,798,491
Area | 82,880 SQ KM
Official Language | Arabic
Holidays | Independence Day, 2 December (1971- from the UK / made permanent in 1996)
Currency |Emirati dirhams (AED)
Time Zone | UTC +4
Best Time to Visit | November to April
Connecting with the Culture | Mixing with mobile-phone-toting sheikhs, pint sized jockeys and punters of every nationality at Nad-al-Sheba racecourse in Dubai. Exploring the cool date-palm plantations in the heart of Al-Ain. Cross dunes, ride camels and fly falcons at the luxurious Al-Maha Desert resort. Looking at enormous waves of peach-tinged dunes at Liwa oasis. Spending a night at the architecturally renowned Burj Al Arab hotel, built in the shape of the Arabian dhow sail.
Read | Arabic Short Stories, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies an excellent primer with tales from all over the Middle East.
Listen | to a performer playing on an ancient oud, a carefully constructed wooden instrument, which sounds similar to a mandolin.
Watch | contemporary Arab cinema at the Dubai International Film Festival
Eat | fuul (paste made from fava beans, garlic and lemon) and falafel (deep fried balls of chickpea past served in a piece of Arabic flatbread)
Drink | strong shai (tea) with na’ana (mint) and dark muddy qahwa (coffee)
In a Word | Marhaba (hi)
Characteristics | Wadi-bashing (four-wheel driving around UAE’s oasis); a duty free shoppers paradise; carpet merchants and Bedouin souvenirs; Pakistani, Indian and Iranian expats; international racehorses.
Surprises | The UAE is the cheapest place outside of Iran to buy Iranian caviar
NEWS ABOUT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Iran-UAE spar over Abu Musa island
(HN, 4/30/12) - Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council which include the nations UAE with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar & Saudi Arabia will hold a special meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha on Tuesday to discuss an ancient dispute over the Abu Musa islands between Iran & the UAE. The meeting comes after Abu Dhabi recalled its ambassador to Tehran & lodged a protest with the UN in protest after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a visit to the territory which both countries lay claim to, along with 2 other islands Lesser Tunb & Greater Tunb in the southern Gulf. Tehran insisted historical documents proved "the Persian Gulf is Persian," & said the visit was a purely "domestic issue."
Abu Musa is a 12-km island in the eastern Persian Gulf, part of a 6-island archipelago near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. Administered by Iran as part of the Iranian province of Hormozgan, it is also claimed by the UAE. As of 2010 the island had some 2,038 inhabitants. After British occupation, in 1971, UAE & Iran agreed to give sovereignty to the former but allowed the latter to station troops on the island. Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the 3 was placed under joint administration in de-occupation deal called Sharjah, now administered as part of the UAE. Abu Dhabi says the Iranians have since taken control of the entire island which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf & have installed an airport & military base on Abu Musa. (Read more at GulfNews)