There was once upon a time when most people thought that Dubai was a country until later with the advent of internet info provided for the then much less known UAE, a very rich monarch governed by Sharia law.
The United Arab Emirates is a country within the Arabian Peninsula made up of a federation of seven emirates. UAE is an absolute monarchy. I’m guessing most people can only name about three of them and those are the most popular; Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Only Abu Dhabi and Dubai have veto power over special and important matters in the legislation of the United Arab Emirates. Most emirates are named after their major/capital cities and they have some control over their civil activities, planning and finances with support from the federal government. A province is led by an Emir who is to be succeeded by a crown prince.
Fascinating facts you didn’t know about the federations of the United Arab Emirates
1. Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates and it is the largest emirate covering at least 87% of the federation and having the largest population. The capital city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is also called Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi’s main economic activities are mining (especially oil and natural gas), quarrying and construction thus contributing to at least 60% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai is the most popular Emirate most because of its city, Dubai which is considered most populated, a global city and the business hub of the Middle East.
Contrary to most thoughts, only 5% of the emirate’s revenue comes from oil, much of it is from trade, real estate, finance and tourism. It has some of the most innovative and iconic construction marvels such as the world’s tallest building the “Burj Khalifa”.
Dubai city is the most expensive city in the Middle East and 22nd most expensive city in the whole world, it’s hotel rooms only being the second most expensive after those in Geneva. Dubai is believed to be one of the best places to live in the Middle East.
Sharja is the cultural capital of the UAE and was once the Islamic capital in 2014 considering its profound emphasis on tradition, Arabic culture, Islam and the tight prohibition on alcohol sale and consumption in restaurants, hotels and other public places.
It is the third-largest and third most populated emirate in the United Arab Emirates. Sharjah city was also ranked the 68th best city in the world for university students in 2016. Sharjah was also awarded the “Cultural Capital of the Arab World” by UNESCO in 1998.
Ajman is the smallest of all the provinces making up the United Arab Emirates and 95% of its population resides in its capital city, Ajman.
Ajman is on the coast of the Persian Gulf with some areas carrying out agriculture on a large scale. It’s major economic activities range from real estate, construction, transport, manufacturing to storage and communications.
53% of her exports go to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Iran. The Gulf Medical University from Ajman is the largest health care provider in the United Arab Emirates.
Fujairah is the only emirate with a coastline only on the Gulf of Oman and yet none on the Persian Gulf. Fujairah thrives mainly on the Federal government and does not allow foreigners to own more than 49% of a business unless it is set up in the trade free zones. Foreigners or visitors can’t also own land, you’ve to be an Emirati.
The emirate mostly harbours mining, stone quarrying, cement and in recent years’ construction. Alcohol consumption is allowed in some hotels and bars but gambling was banned after locals petitioned the Emir due to many people losing their wages.
Most people from Fujairah go to the bigger emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi to shop and fun whereas some come from the other emirates to Fujairah for its relaxing climate, camping, hiking and water sports.
6. Ras al-Khaimah
Ras al-Khaimah is in the North bordering Oman and has the most fertile soil in the United Arab Emirates because of regular rainfall and underground streams of water from the Omani mountains.
Ras al-Khaimah does not have oil thus is focused on improving its industrial sector such as opening the first cement company in UAE back in the 1970s which made it the largest producer of cement in the country to date. It is also one of the largest ceramics producers in the world.
It is growing in tourism and is home to several five-star hotels and beach resorts such as the Hiltons. With developments such as these, the economy no longer relies deeply on fisheries and agriculture.
The emirate also favours international investments which should only have foreign customers, they are not taxed at all not even for imports or exports and can open local bank accounts and even borrow mortgages for investment.
7. Umm al-Quwain
This might be the wildlife conservation city of the United Arab Emirates with the largest colony of the birds – Socotra Cormorant. The colony has more than 15,000 pairs making it the third-largest in the world.
Umm al-Quwain also has Arabian gazelle, green turtles, waterfowl, mangrove forests, creeks and lots of marine life such as the blacktip reef sharks on the shoreline.
The largest water park in the UAE is located on the coastline of this emirate with several gardens, and with more than 30 rides to handle close to 1,000 visitors.
Umm al-Quwain is also home to several historical monuments such as the Umm Al Quwain Fort, Old Harbour, several islands and plains, temples and Al Dour.
Next time you are in the United Arab Emirates and have some time on your hands, be sure to check out some of these other provinces.
Have you been to any of these and would love to share your experiences or just have a question? Please leave a comment below.
Lawrence writes about tech, lifestyle, politics, business, crypto and occasionally entertainment. He writes for Newslibre and Spur Magazine while consulting with numerous international companies on strategy, community management and marketing.
He has contributed to the journalism, open source, film, youth, web, Andela and Mozilla communities.