10 Things You Didn’t Know About the UAE

13 April 2021

UAE Is Much More Than Dubai and Sky Scrapers. Here Are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About UAE.

When people think of the UAE, they only see Dubai, skyscrapers and fast cars.

In truth however, there is so much more than that and the story of the United Arab Emirates is one of strategy, exceptional leadership and careful planning.

In this article we’ll go over how UAE got to where it is today, how it’s like to live there and what big decisions they made to turn that patch of sand into this worldwide power.

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With that out of the way, let’s jump straight into the article.


How They Got Here

In the early days, the region was controlled by tribes called sheikdoms, with the main activity being pearl trading. These guys were super big on pearls.

And being all day out in the sea, you notice things, mainly british ships making their way to India. 

So they did like any respectable pirate would do, and started to interfere with the British navy and their pretious Indian tea.

With the region now having a strategic importance, the British found themselves having to make a deal with the sheikdoms. This was one of the first steps towards the stability of the region. They had good trade with pearls and protection from the British army. 

And the oil was discovered and two things happened.

One, the Brits realized they could no longer afford to keep their army in the desert, and two, the sheikdoms decided to unite in order to secure this valuable new resource.

And so, the United Arab Emirates was formed. 


Great Leadership and Smart Decisions

Once oil was found, the region became like SimCity with cheat codes.

This is where great leadership came to play. They didn’t want to be just an oil exporting country. In order to really transform the region, a bigger vision had to be put in place. A vision where the UAE is a financial and cultural hub.

So they took the profits from oil and dumped all of them into infrastructure. They invested heavily in pretty much every sector there is to be invested.

In just a couple of years they raised skyscrapers, built roads, hospitals, schools, entertaining hubs, commercial hubs and more islands, because you can never have too many islands. 


Life Conditions

So what is it like to live in such a place?

There is no shortage of things to do, that’s for sure, and they really wanted people to be happy.

They actually have a Minister of State of Happiness, whose job is to make sure everyone is happy.

Emirati nationals enjoy subsidized education, healthcare and fuel, along with a lot of packages for investing in real estate. Add no income tax, which means everything you make, it’s your to keep.

This gives people a lot of wiggle room with their money. Plus, salaries in the government sector and a lot of other industries are pretty high to begin with.

It’s also one of the safest places to live in.

But this only applies to natives and it’s pretty much impossible for a foreigner to be given nationality. 

Or at least it used to be, until a couple of months ago. 


You Can Now Obtain Citizenship as a Foreigner

Earlier this year,  the UAE made headlines when they announced they are now officially giving citizenship to foreigners.

This was unheard of before. 

So, what gives? Why did they suddenly change their minds. 

Gulf Governments were always opposed to giving permanent residency to foreigners. 

Here’s why: oil prices crashed, the pandemic happened and foreigners were forced to leave the Emirates. 

Low oil prices and no foreigners is a big problem for the Gulf countries. 

So in an attempt to bring foreigners back and boost the economy, they did the unprecedented. 

Not everyone can apply however. There isn’t even an application process. Instead, you have to be selected by royals or government officials, if you meet certain criteria. 

So if you are an investors, specialised talent, doctor, engineer or artists, there might be a way for you to become an official citizen of the UAE.


Plans for Life After Oil

Oil resources won’t last forever and prices are fluctuating like crazy for years.

So in a distant future, an oil based economy is pretty much nonsense for the Emirates.

In other words, oil made them rich and oil can make them poor too.

So what’s the plan?

Already in Dubai, which by the way, it’s one of the 7 Emirates, not a country, nor the capital, the oil contribution is less than 1% of the total GDP.

So how do they make money?


Just kidding, kinda of.

You probably heard of Burj Al Arab, the pinnacle of luxury hotels.

But despite being one of the tallest hotels in the world, it only has around 200 rooms.

You see, the point of this hotel isn’t to make a profit. It’s to attract people with deep pockets.

People who come to the Emirates to spend mad cash.

Because tourism and the financial sector is what’s pushing the gulf economy forward.

Right now, Dubai is the only Emirate with a diversified economy, while the other 6 are heavily reliant on oil revenues.


Strong Marketing

Speaking of Dubai, they figure out pretty early how to attract more people.

There are some things you can only do in the Emirates.

Let’s take skydiving for example. Sure, you can skydive pretty much everywhere, but nothing comes close to flying over Dubai.

Want to ride a buggy in the sand dunes? No problem

How about doing that, on your way to a sky resort? No problem, as Dubai has one of the biggest ski resorts inside one of the biggest malls on the planet.

Let’s take food, since it’s one of the best ways to bring people together.

You bet you’ll find every cuisine on the planet here.

As you can see, they found every fun activity and went balls to the walls on it.

Everything you want to do, you can do in the Emirates.

Well, not everything, since they do actually have some pretty interesting laws.


A New City

When was the last time a new city was built? Ever think of that?

Well there is one currently being built just outside of Abu Dhabi.

It’s called Masdar City, and as stated on their website, it’s a pioneer in sustainability and a hub for research and development, spearheading the innovations to realize greener, more sustainable urban living.

The construction started in 2008, but has faced several setbacks, including the financial crisis. Right now, it’s expected to be fully functional by 2030. 

It’s powered by solar panels, and, most interestingly, there are no lightswitches or water taps in the whole city.

Instead they have a bunch of movement sensors to control water and electricity consumption. 


Weird Laws

You like to swear a lot? Jail

You have a dirty car? Jail

Oh, you’re washing your car? Also jail.

Well not jail, but a hefty fine. We just didn’t want to ruin the joke.

They do however have a bunch of laws who may sound weird to you, depending on where you come from.

One example is spreading rumors on social media, which is seen as damaging the social peace and public order. 

An australian teacher was actually jailed, fined and deported for sharing a photo of a car parked across disabled parking spaces.


Not Everyone Is Rich

When you think of the Emirates, you think rich and glamorous.

Yes, there are a lot of rich people in the capital of Abu Dahbi and Dubai but not every Emirati is a millionaire. 

As a matter of fact, the top 1% hold over 50% of the entire country’s wealth. 

Also, the vast majority of the workforce is composed of migrant workers. 

And while the Emirates are famous for a lot of things, labour conditions for migrant workers is not one of them. 

If you want to become as rich as the top 1% of UAE, check out 10 Technologies That Can Make You Rich,  for some ideas. 


The Richest Person In UAE

When you think about the wealthiest people in the Emirates, you automatically think of the Royal Family, right.

Who else could bolster such a title if not the royals who rule the Emirates?

Turns out, at the moment of writing this piece, the richest person in the UAE is a russian. His name is Pavel Durov, he’s the founder of Telegram and Forbes just estimated his net worth at $17.2 Billion.

He’s also based in Dubai, which technically makes him the richest guy in the Gulf. Granted, not everything publicly known about the wealth of the Royal Families that rule the 7 Emirates.


Which brings us to today’s question,

Do you think the Emirates can survive the future just on oil? Let’s get a conversation going in the comments, we’ll be sure to jump in.