In the 18th and 19th centuries, the area now known as the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, was predominantly known for its thriving pearling industry. Since then it has transformed itself from a group of adjacent Emirates with small, but significant, trading ports, into a dynamic, unified country at the heart of global commerce and tourism. The UAE became a federation of six emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah on December 2, 1971 with Ras Al Khaimah joining this alliance the following February.
The UAE is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, and because of this, has embraced a global outlook whilst retaining much of its rich heritage. Residents can enjoy a full and varied life with a wide array of leisure and social options available to them. With 81% of the population made up of expatriates, the UAE is today one of the most international countries in the world. The UAE is an Islamic country, however, and residents need to be respectful of the local customs and laws while enjoying the lifestyle available to them.