However, during the summer months (between June and September), be prepared for triple-digit temperatures and high humidity levels. Thermometers range from 41°C (106°F) up to a scorching 48°C (118°) in August. Yes, it’s undeniably hot, but the UAE is well and truly geared up for it with AC in every mall, restaurant, office and even bus shelters, to keep sweaty brows at bay.
The total land area of the UAE is approximately 83,600sq km, with around 1,318km of coastline.
Dubai accounts for a huge 4,114sq km of that total. While not particularly mountainous, the highest named point is Jebel Yibir at 1,572m, ‘jebel’ meaning mountain or hill in Arabic. The UAE’s coordinates are 24°00’North 54°00’East.
The UAE flag incorporates the Pan-Arab colours of green, white, black and red, symbolising Arabian unity. It was adopted on 2 December 1971 as the official flag of the country. Interestingly, each of the seven emirates aside from Fujairah also has its own flag, all of which use just red and white.
The UAE population has grown rapidly in recent years as expat arrivals, robust economic expansion and high birth rates have continued to push up the total number. According to the World Bank, the UAE’s population was just 322,439 a year after the country was formed in 1971.
By 2002, 30 years later, that had ballooned by 10 times to just over 3.2 million. After 40 years, population has now grown by over 28 times the 1972 figure, currently recorded at around 9.2 million. Compared to just 10 years previously, that’s a 185% increase.
Unsurprisingly the vast majority of this growth has come from foreign workers moving to the country, the local population now accounts for just 15%. However, aside from the huge number of Indians settling in the UAE, Emirati nationals still make up the largest ethnic group and have considerable influence.
The monetary unit is the dirham (Dhs.), which is divided into 100 fils. The currency is also referred to as AED (Arab Emirate Dirham). On notes, all denominations are marked in both Arabic and English, although coin values are shown only in Arabic. Notes come in denominations of Dhs.5 (brown), Dhs.10 (green), Dhs.20 (light blue), Dhs.50 (purple), Dhs.100 (pink), Dhs.200 (yellowy-brown), Dhs.500 (blue) and Dhs.1,000 (browny-purple). Watch your Dhs.200 notes though, they can be mistaken for a Dhs.5 note if you’re in a hurry.
All coins are silver in colour, with a total of six in circulation, but you typically only come across the three largest denominations: Dhs.1, 50 fils and 25 fils. The dirham has been pegged to the US dollar since 1980, at a mid-rate of $1 to Dhs.3.6725.
The UAE is four hours ahead of the UTC (Universal Coordinated Time, formerly known as GMT). Clocks are not altered for daylight saving in the summer, so when Europe and North America gain an hour in spring, the time in the UAE stays the same resulting in a shorter three hours time difference. Time differences between the UAE and some cities around the world (not allowing for any daylight savings in those cities) are: Bangkok +3, Hong Kong +4; London -4; Los Angeles -12; Moscow -1; New York -9; Sydney +6; and Tokyo +5.