The United Arab Emirates is a land of many quirks contradictions and wonders. Sadly, your average westerner’s knowledge of this prosperous yet barren Gulf state is limited just to the city of Dubai. But there’s a whole lot more this surprisingly important nation. These are the 10 things you didn’t know about the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
10: Lowest Death Rate
It turns out that the United Arab Emirates is a great place to be, that is if you don’t want to die. The United Arab Emirates has a mortality rate of just 0.9%. To put that into perspective the United States has a mortality rate of 8.1% which is well behind you. What is interesting is that the top 4 countries with the lowest death rates are all Gulf States. And the UAE leading the entire region the reasons for this area of Emirati superiority are many.
UAE’s affluence in oil money has allowed the country to heavily invest in its health services as well as its infrastructure. Foreign doctors are attracted to the UAE by the promise of working with state of the art equipment. As well as the potential to work with some of the world’s wealthiest clients. In the major cities of the UAE, the hospitals are often the envy of the world. You wouldn’t be able to tell the UAE does so well in the realm of health just by looking at it. But when it comes to looks, the United Arab Emirates can be deceiving.
9: Lowest Tax Rate as Percentage of GDP
When it comes to debt and taxes the United Arab Emirates is a great place to be in both categories. The UAE has no personal income tax to speak of instead. The UAE’s government budget is paid entirely through oil revenues, property taxes, and sales taxes. As a result, the UAE boasts the lowest tax burden as a percentage of GDP in the entire world coming in at just 1.4% of GDP. In contrast, the United States has a tax burden of 26.9% of GDP. While it is true of the United States as a robust welfare system and a global empire to finance. It cannot be denied that when it comes to wealth the United Arab Emirates is more likely to let you keep it than many other countries.
8: Intelligent Autocracy
When many people see the wild success of the United Arab Emirates? They become shocked when they learn that the UAE is, in fact, an autocracy. After all, many people assume that country success can only come with freedom and universal suffrage. UAE defies this perception and in many ways, embodies dictatorship done right.
The structure of the UAE’s government is wildly different however, from your average run-of-the-mill dictatorship. The constituent Emirates of UAE are Abu Dhabi, which serves as the country’s capital. Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Razalkamy, Sharjah, and emakalim, each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch. Together these regional autocrats jointly formed the federal supreme council of the United Arab Emirates. One of these monarchs is selected to serve as the president of the United Arab Emirates. The president of the United Arab Emirates serves as the country’s head of state. He manages the country’s international affairs. The president of the United Arab Emirates is also the supreme commander of the UAE’s armed forces and chairman of the supreme council and supreme petroleum council.
Officially, the president of the UAE is elected every 5 years by the federal supreme council. But because the ruler of Abu Dhabi customarily also holds the presidency of the UAE. This office is de facto or hereditary one, however, in each constituent region of the UAE. And Ameer’s word is absolute law and the president of UAE may not interfere in the internal affairs of an Emirates to an outsider.
7: Skewed Gender Ratio
One interesting quirk about the United Arab Emirates is its population Demographics. The United Arab Emirates has the highest prevalence of males in this population. Which means that there are 2.19 males for every female in the UAE. This situation is the complete opposite of the small Baltic state of Estonia. Where there are only 0.84 males for every female. Because there are more than 2 males for every female in the UAE. It’s safe to say that the dating market is an uphill battle for men in this country. However, the gender ratio situation, the UAE is far more complex. Over the past 2 decades, there’s been an amazing construction boom in the UAE, funded by oil and natural gas revenues.
Consequently, the demand for low-skilled labor in the UAE has skyrocketed in recent years. Many from the local population of the Gulf states, consider themselves to be above construction work and manual labor jobs. So, as a result of millions of workers from Asian and southeast Asian countries, have been shifted to the United Arab Emirates. These workers who were in the majority of men, usually live in labor camps on the outskirts of the cities out of the site from locals in expats.
In fact, you could visit the UAE and not even notice that there is a massive gender disparity at all. This great mass of people is known simply as bachelors in the Gulf states, they are seen as a scourge on society. Even though these workers have helped to build the Gulf states up from nothing.
6: Racial Demographics
Many people do not know that the UAE is one of the most racially diverse countries in the entire world. In fact, Emirates are a minority in their own country. In 2013, the UAE’s population was just 9.2 million people, of which only 1.4 million are Emirati citizens. 7.8 million for the majority of this number are expatriates. Emiratis tend to be significantly wealthier than the expatriates that live in the UAE. Most people who come to the United Arab Emirates come to serve native Emiratis in one form or another. Whether it is through labor or through white-collar jobs.
The interesting thing though, is that most of the foreign nationals in UAE are not westerners. It surprises many people to learn that just 8% of the UAE’s population is composed of western expatriates. By far, the majority of the UAE’s population is composed of southeast Asians with 2.2 million coming from India alone. Racial tensions and racial differences in the United Arab Emirates are not often discussed. But it cannot be denied that there’s a huge disparity of wealth and power between the native Emiratis and the millions of foreign workers who come to serve them.
5: Highest Ecological Footprints
When looking at the most basic facts, it’s obvious that the United Arab Emirates has been built upon an unsustainable foundation and ecological footprint is a metric that measures how much strain is placed on the environment, in order to support a country’s population.
More specifically, and ecological footprint is the total amount of biologically productive area needed to provide for everything people use. This includes food production, water harvesting, and fossil fuel consumption. If a country does not have enough ecological resources within its own territory, then there is a local ecological deficit and it is called ecological debtor country. Otherwise, it is an ecological remainder and it is called an ecological creditor country. UAE is the world’s greatest ecological debtor country and has the largest ecological footprint. 10.6 global Hectares of land is required to support every person in the UAE. While the UAE itself only has 0.85 global Hectares available for each of its citizens.
This isn’t surprising, because the gift of oil and natural gas has transformed the UAE into a place that simply wouldn’t exist under any natural circumstances. There are so much capital and wealth concentrated in this tiny Arab Gulf state, as its population has exploded in recent decades. To put this into perspective in 1960, the United Arab Emirates had a population of just 89000. While, in 2013, this number was 9.3 million. The fact that the population of the UAE surpasses the ability of the lines is supported by more than a factor of 10, doesn’t seem to bother the people live in the UAE. The one is left to wonder how long the unsustainable can be sustained.
4: UAE Sanitation Problems
When it comes to sanitation, the emirate of Dubai has had a lot of growing pains. In past years, there have been many embarrassing problems with the city’s sewer systems or lack thereof. During Dubai’s economic boom in the 2000s, the city’s frantic growth meant that it was stretching its existing sewage treatment infrastructure to its limits. Sewage from the areas of Dubai not connected to the municipal pipe network at the time was collected daily from thousands of holding tanks across the city and driven by tankers to the city’s only sewage treatment plant. Because of the long lines and frequent delays, several tanker drivers resorted to illegally dumping raw sewage into storm drains or behind dunes in the desert.
The results of sewage dumped into the storm drains were that it flowed directly into the Persian Gulf and to the city’s beaches. The sight of Dubai’s pristine beaches becoming flooded with fecal matter, drove away tourists per time and severely damaged Dubai’s reputation. Medical observers even warned that terrorist using the beaches ran the risk of contracting typhoid and hepatitis. Today the Dubai Municipality and authority probably maintains that test results show samples of the Dubai’s beach water are within standards. Still, when it comes to sewers and waste management, the Emiratis are still newcomers. Even in 2013, it was reported that the Jebel Ali sewage treatment plant in Dubai receives 70% of sewage for the city’s sewage network. While the remaining 30% still has to be brought in by massive sewage trucks.
3: Economic Diversification
With all this talk of the great wealth of the United Arab Emirates and splendor of the emirate of Dubai, it begs the question. How did it become this way? Oil, of course, is the short answer! but with all these things there is so much more to this question. UAE has the second largest economy in the Arab world, behind Saudi Arabia. With the exception of the emirate of Dubai the UAE’s economy remains extremely reliant on oil exports. More than 85% of the UAE’s economy was based on oil exports in 2009. Though this number had dropped by 77% in 2011.
While Abu Dhabi and the other UAE Emirates have remained relatively conservative in their approach to diversification. Dubai, which has far smaller oil reserves was bolder in diversification policy. This economic diversification seems to pay off as Dubai’s one of the largest expat and tourist destinations in the entire world.
2: Tallest Building in the World
The United Arab Emirates is very much a country still under construction. Most of this construction has been situated around the city of Dubai. Dubai is trying to so much attention in fact, that many people assume that this amazing city is the capital of the UAE. However, if you believe this, you would be wrong. The capital of the UAE is actually Abu Dhabi, but Dubai is still a very interesting place. This city is home to the tallest building in the entire world “the Burj Khalifa”, which stands as a staggering 2717 feet tall. People living on the 80th floor of the Burj Khalifa even have to wait two extra minutes before breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Because they’re able to see the sun longer than those on the ground.
1: Bright Future for the United Arab Emirates
Today even with fears of decrease in reliance on oil and Dubai’s formidable debt burden, the future of the United Arab Emirates appears to still be bright by many accounts. It is believed, that the worst of 2007, 2010 Dubai economic crisis has past and Dubai’s gamble on economic diversification is paid off, and by many metrics, the best is yet to come. One important metrics to look at is construction. Today, 25% of the world’s operational cranes are in Dubai alone, showing that there’s still room for growth on the horizon.
These are the 10 things you didn’t know about UAE. What do you think about the UAE? Let us know in the comments below.