The culture of the United Arab Emirates is
characterized by the rapid modernization that the
country is undergoing. Western mass culture exists in
parallel with a traditional Arabic Bedouin culture.
The traditional Bedouin culture has few public
expressions. Most things happen within the four walls of
the home. As in the rest of the Arab world, oral poetry
is important. Unlike in more puritanical Saudi Arabia,
dance and music occur at ceremonies. Dinners are often
so carefully arranged that they can be seen as artistic
forms of expression.
Latest population statistics of United Arab Emirates, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
With the oil industry, Western culture also came to
the country in the 1970s. Through radio, CDs, TV and the
internet, modern mass culture has spread to almost the
entire population. In particular, Dubai and Abu Dhabi
nowadays have a modern and international metropolitan
life. Dubai has a new opera house and in 2017 an art
museum was opened in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the
French Louvre. The Emirate Museum may, under contract,
use the Louvre's name and borrow hundreds of works of
art from French museums.
In Abu Dhabi, since 2007, an annual international
award has been awarded to Arab writers. The award was
established with the support of the British Booker Prize
Foundation to encourage translations into English of
For many men in the emirate, camel races are a
passion. Dubai is also investing in major sporting
events, such as golf and athletics.
Hunting with falcons has a long tradition from times
when Bedouins tamed birds of prey to help find food.
Since 2010, the UN organization considers UNESCO
falconry as a cultural world heritage. The tradition
has, among other things, led to Abu Dhabi having an
animal hospital where the veterinarians are birds of
prey. Falcons are allowed to keep birds born in
captivity and the falcons get their own passport if the
owner wants to make a hunting trip abroad. On Emirates
aircraft, tamed falcons as well as guide dogs can be
found in the passenger cabin.
Activist drops in HD
The Supreme Court confirms a 10-year prison sentence, sentenced in May,
against Ahmed Mansoor. He is accused of spreading false information about the
regime via social media in order to damage the emirate's relations with
neighboring countries (see March 19).
The Pope will hold a fair in the emirate
Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in February 2019 at the invitation of the
Emirate Crown Prince and the local Catholic Church. The pope will hold a mass in
public place, church officials say. Most of the Christians in Abu Dhabi are
guest workers from Asian countries. The Crown Prince and the Pope met at the
Vatican in 2016. The Pope's visit is said to be the first official on the
Arabian Peninsula, however, Francis has visited several other mainly Muslim
countries. He will travel to Morocco in March.
Spy-convicted Britons are released
British researcher Matthew Hedges is pardoned and released despite being
sentenced to life imprisonment for spying by a court in Abu Dhabi. Hedges claims
he was in the country to work on his doctoral dissertation when he was arrested
in Dubai in May. The tours in the case are difficult to understand as the United
Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom are described as close allies.
Neighboring cooperation will close gas deal for Qatar
The two largest energy companies in the Arab world, Saudi Aramco and Emirate
Adnoc, conclude agreements on technology exchange and cooperation in the natural
gas market. Both companies are state-owned. The United Arab Emirates has decided
on a five-year investment plan, which will make the emirate self-sufficient on
gas and, by extension, to the exporter. Currently, the emirate imports gas from
Qatar via pipeline. Imports have continued despite Qatar being subject to
boycotts and isolation policy from neighboring countries for over a year.
New lures for foreign companies
Foreign companies investing in the emirate should receive more favorable
terms, according to a presidential decree. In some respects, companies must be
treated as domestic companies, which means reduced bureaucracy. The reason the
regime is attracted by extended "carrots" is that several important industries -
oil, tourism and real estate - show declining figures (see May 21).
The United Arab Emirates is the region's largest economy next to Saudi Arabia
and has more complex business, but the Emirate is equally dependent on the oil
market to worry about the country's leadership.
First completely emiratic satellite in space
The first satellite built entirely in the Emirates is launched and orbited
around the earth with the help of a Japanese rocket. The satellite will take
pictures of the earth for different purposes.
Israeli visits to the emirate
Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev visits a mosque in the
United Arab Emirates. She talks about the visit to Abu Dhabi's largest mosque as
the first at ministerial level - Israel does not have full diplomatic relations
with the Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, Israel's national anthem is also played at a
judo tournament, also a rarity. At the same time, an Israeli delegation attends
an IT conference in Dubai and looks open. Prime Minister Netanyahu has long
sought an approach to Arab countries that, like Israel, are critical of Iran.
Free medicines for the seriously ill
The Emirates Ministry of Health has signed declarations of intent with two
pharmaceutical companies, Swedish-Swiss Astra Zeneca and German Bayer. They
assume that patients with certain severe cancer diseases should receive free
drugs. Patients should be selected, among other things, through income testing.
Agreements can help South African criminal investigators
The United Arab Emirates and South Africa sign a extradition agreement. For
South Africa, the agreement is important in light of the fact that criminal
investigations are ongoing against the well-ordered Gupta brothers, who have key
roles in corruption scandals surrounding former President Jacob Zuma. One of the
three Gupta brothers lives in Dubai but is internationally wanted. Two of them
have said they are ready to answer the investigators' questions, from Dubai.
Display of record animal painting postponed
On September 18, the new Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum would have exhibited a
record-breaking painting: Salvator Mundi (The Savior of the World), a Jesus
motif attributed to Italian Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci. Now the
display has been postponed indefinitely, the Emirates Ministry of Culture and
Tourism announces. The painting was auctioned at a record price of $ 450 million
in 2017. According to American newspapers, the purchase was made by members of
the Saudi royal house.
Emirates may be ready for space travel
The United Arab Emirates has selected its first two astronauts: Hazza
al-Mansuri and Sultan Saif al-Neyadi. The message is given by Dubai's emir, vice
president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, who the year before
stated that the goal was to send four emirates to the International Space
Station (ISS) within five years. Four thousand emirates reported interest in the
careful selection process.
Amnesty for migrants
An amnesty is initiated for foreign nationals who do not have a visa or have
remained in the country despite the expiry of their visa. If they register by
last October and travel home voluntarily, they will not have legal recourse.
Those looking for a job can also get a six-month permit to make it legal. In the
oil-producing emirates, there is a huge number of guest workers from Asia and
Africa, but the emirate does not publish statistics on which countries migrant
workers belong to.
Court orders protection for Qatari
The International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) demands in a ruling
that the United Arab Emirates ensure that families with Qatari citizens who are
divided as a result of the conflict with Qatar can be reunited. In addition,
students from Qatar studying in the United Arab Emirates must be able to
complete their education in the country. Since the summer of 2017, when the
conflict erupted, the United Arab Emirates has demanded that Qatari nationals
leave the country.
Emirati Prince on the run in Qatar
An emirate prince, from Fujayra, openly criticizes the country's elite and
has sought asylum in Qatar, where he has been for two months. For the New York
Times, the prince talks, among other things, about tensions in the emirate as a
result of the involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He also claims that the
war has demanded more emiratic lives than is officially allowed.
Nuclear power is delayed
The United Arab Emirates is again postponing its first nuclear reactor, which
is also believed to be the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world. It will
not be possible until the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020 to operate the
first reactor, states the state-owned energy company ENEC, according to the WAM
news agency without stating the reason for the delay. Four reactors, which will
cover a quarter of the emirate's energy consumption, are under construction at
the Barakah plant west of Abu Dhabi. The reactors are built by a
Investors are attracted with easier regulations
The Emirate government has decided to allow 100% foreign ownership of
companies. The purpose is to attract investment in a situation where the growth
rate has slowed down and the oil price has produced less revenue than before.
Both the real estate industry and tourism are experiencing a slowdown. Investors
with relatives will receive ten-year residence permits, as well as healthcare
staff and other qualified guest workers. The new rules will come into force at
the end of 2018, according to the WAM news agency.
Penalties should prevent currency and arms deals
The United Arab Emirates joins US new sanctions on Iran. Companies and
individuals connected to the mighty Revolutionary Guard in Iran should be barred
from doing business. The guard is accused of dollar purchases that must have
taken place, among other things, to conceal arms exports to countries and armed
groups allied with Iran. According to the US Treasury, currency transactions
have been done in the United Arab Emirates.
The first nuclear reactor is stated clearly
The first of four planned nuclear reactors is reported to be ready for
operation. The message comes in connection with South Korea's President Moon
Jae-In visiting the Barakah facility on the coast along with Abu Dhabi's Crown
Prince Muhammad bin Zayid (see Natural Resources and Energy).
The Arab Emirates does not have the status of a tax haven
The EU deletes the United Arab Emirates and seven other countries /
territories from a newly published list of tax havens. They are now being
transferred to a "gray" list of 55 countries that have pledged to adapt to EU
standards in tax and financial legislation, but without specific commitments.
The EU published its first "black" list in early December. Now only nine
countries / territories remain on that list.
VAT is introduced
VAT on goods is introduced as of New Year, in the United Arab Emirates and
Saudi Arabia at the same time. It is the first time VAT is introduced in any of
the Gulf states. There will be 5 percent VAT on fuel, food, electricity and
water, hotel stays, etc. Some exceptions to the tax, such as medical services,
financial services and public transport. There is no plan to introduce income