For two and a half millennia, the Gulf coast has been a crossroads of the world. From the Persian Royal Road to the Han Dynasty’s Silk Road, from the trading posts of the 19th century to the hypermodernity of today’s UAE, people have always converged here. They come not only to do business, but also to share ideas, experience and inspiration.
Abu Dhabi (“Father of Gazelle”) is the largest of the seven emirates that compose the United Arab Emirates and was also the largest of the former Crucial States. Abu Dhabi is also a city of the same name within the Emirate that is the capital of the country, in north central UAE. The city lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. An estimated 1,000,000 people lived there in 2000, with about an 80% expatriate population. The Emirate has approximately 70% of the country’s entire wealth. Al Ain is Abu Dhabi’s second largest urban area with a population of 348,000 and is located 150 Km inland.
One of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf is the emirate’s main city, called “Dubai City”.
Dubai is the most populous and second largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi. In 1587 AD, the Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi mentions the name of Dubai as one of the places where Venetians worked, diving for pearls. There are records of the town of Dubai from 1799. Earlier in the 18th century the Al Abu Falasa lineage of Bani Yas clan established itself in Dubai which was a dependent of the settlement of Abu Dhabi until 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty, the rulers of Dubai fostered trade and commerce, unlike the town’s neighbors. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, Until the 1930s, the town was known for its pearl exports. Oil was discovered 120Km off the coast of Dubai, after which the town granted oil concessions. On 2nd December 1971 Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates.
Ajman is situated on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, between the emirates of Umm Al Quwain and Sharjah. It is a small emirate in terms of its physical size, covering about 259 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 0.3 percent of the country’s total area, excluding the islands. The town of Ajman, the capital of the emirate, lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf and has an historic fort that has been recently renovated housing a fascinating museum. The two major regions in the emirate are Masfout, an agricultural village, lying in the mountains at a distance of 110 kilometers to the South east of the city, and Manama located 60 kilometers to the east. The emirate has been ruled by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuami since 1981. Fishing and date-trees provided the local population with their primary means of sustenance.
Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and is the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman (the Indian Ocean). In addition there are three enclaves belonging to Sharjah situated on the east coast, bordering the Gulf of Oman. These are Kalba, Khorfakkan and Diba Al-Hisn.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is the northern-most emirate in the UAE and has been ruled by His Highness Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi since 1948. It covers 1680 square kilometers. The city of Ras Al Khaimah is divided into two sections by Khor (creek) Ras Al Khaimah. In the western section, known as Old Ras Al Khaimah, are Ras Al Khaimah National Museum and a number of government departments. The eastern part, known as Al Nakheel, houses the Ruler’s office, several government departments and commercial companies. The two sections are connected by a large bridge built across the Khor. RAK was also once the centre of the naval strength of the southern Gulf States. Clashes with the British Navy led to its downfall in 1820 and the subsequent arrival of a British presence upon the local scene. Ras Al Khaimah officially became a part of the UAE Federation on October 10, 1972, a year after the Federation was formed. The Emirate has been largely dependent upon traditional occupations, such as fishing, trading and agriculture. Since the establishment of the Federation, much effort has been put into modernizing these traditional sectors to meet the demands of the UAE’s economy. In the 1980’s, Ras Al Khaimah discovered the small, though useful, offshore Saleh oilfield. Another important local industry is cement and building materials.
Umm Al Quwain is located on the western coast of the UAE, with Sharjah to the west and Ras Al Khaimah to the east. It is the second smallest emirate, with total area of 800 square kilometers. It is ruled by His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mualla, who came to power in 1981. Located 50 kilometers south of Umm Al Quwain is Falaj Al Mulla, the agricultural area of the Emirate. Sinayah Island, lying one kilometer away from the town of Umm Al Quwain, is a natural reserve for a large number of species of birds, deers and Al Qaram trees. The traditional occupations of this emirate have been fishing and date cultivation. Umm Al Quwain’s attraction lies in its long clean beaches, an enclosed lagoon and public horse riding stables. The city of Umm Al Quwain, capital of the Emirate, houses the Ruler’s office, administrative and commercial centers, the main port and a Mariculture Research Centre. The city also has the preserved remains of an old fort, its main gate flanked by defensive cannons. The Ahmed Bin Rashid Port and Free Zone located in Umm Al Quwain offers great incentives to investors. Umm Al Quwain also houses a multi-million dirham aqua park, Dreamland, which has boosted its prominence in the UAE.
Fujairah is the only emirate that lies on the eastern side of the UAE, along the Gulf of Oman, while the others are along the Arabian Gulf. The total area of Fujairah is 1450 square kilometers, comprising mountains of varying heights, plains, coasts, oases and desert areas. The Hajar mountain range divides the UAE in two, from Ras Al Khaimah to Al Ain, and keeps Fujairah geographically separated from the rest of the country. Fujairah has a rich and lengthy history of settlement, stretching back thousands of years. It was known in the old ages as ‘The land of the sea giants’ and was the first home for immigrants known as the Phoenicians, who came from the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also the youngest of the Emirates, only becoming independent from Sharjah in 1952. Fujairah’s main industries in the past were fishing and agriculture. Blessed with dramatic scenery, the Fujairah Tourism Bureau promotes its clean beaches, the natural beauty of the mountains, the numerous water sports like diving, yachting, water surfing and deep sea fishing and cultural attractions that attract tourists all round the year. Its Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, realized the potential of Fujairah’s geographical importance and utilized it to make Fujairah one of the most important ports for container ships and livestock shipping companies.