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United Arab Emirates-Transportation

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United Arab Emirates Index


Bridge across Dubayy's creek; the United Arab Emirates boasts many modern highways.
Courtesy Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Washington

Oil revenues have helped finance a modern transportation infrastructure consisting of roads, ports, and airports. These facilities have helped make the UAE, and Dubayy in particular, a major hub of regional and international air and sea traffic. The UAE has about 2,000 kilometers of roads, of which 1,800 were paved as of 1993. The principal road is a highway via the main coastal cities, from Ash Sham to the northwestern border of the UAE, where it connects with roads to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Dubayy's port at Mina Jabal Ali, with sixty-seven berths in 1988, is one of the largest man-made harbors in the world. Located fifty-three kilometers southwest of the city of Dubayy, it handled nearly 10 million tons of cargo in 1989. Mina Rashid, also in Dubayy, in 1984 had thirty-five berths. The Dubayy Ports Authority was established in 1991 to operate the two ports. In addition to Mina Jabal Ali and Mina Rashid in Dubayy, the UAE's other ports are Mina Zayid in Abu Dhabi, Mina Khalid in Sharjah, Mina Saqr in Ras al Khaymah, Khawr Fakkan, and Mina al Fujayrah, the port at Al Fujayrah.

During periods of regional conflict, such as the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 and the Persian Gulf War of 1991, high insurance premiums for gulf shipping periodically reduced the amount of traffic handled at the UAE's ports, although Mina al Fujayrah and Khawr Fakkan had the advantage of lying outside the Persian Gulf on the Gulf of Oman. Abu Dhabi National Tankers Company operates about fifty ships, another aspect of UAE port traffic.

The international airport in Dubayy is the region's busiest, serving 4.3 million passengers in 1988 and handling 144,282 tons of cargo in 1990. Other international airports, which have had difficulty attracting traffic, operate in Sharjah, Ras al Khaymah, and Al Fujayrah. The New Abu Dhabi International Airport opened in 1982, and the Al Ayn International Airport was scheduled to open in the early 1990s. Emirates Airlines is the UAE's international airline.

Data as of January 1993

BackgroundThe Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Zaby, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region.
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia
Area(sq km)total: 83,600 sq km
land: 83,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Geographic coordinates24 00 N, 54 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 867 km
border countries: Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km

Coastline(km)1,318 km

Climatedesert; cooler in eastern mountains

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, natural gas
Land use(%)arable land: 0.77%
permanent crops: 2.27%
other: 96.96% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)760 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)0.2 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 2.3 cu km/yr (23%/9%/68%)
per capita: 511 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsfrequent sand and dust storms
Environment - current issueslack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - notestrategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
note: estimate is based on the results of the 2005 census that included a significantly higher estimate of net inmigration of non-citizens than previous estimates (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 20.4% (male 500,928/female 478,388)
15-64 years: 78.7% (male 2,768,030/female 1,008,404)
65 years and over: 0.9% (male 27,601/female 15,140)
note: 73.9% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 30.1 years
male: 32 years
female: 24.7 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)3.689% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)16.02 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)2.11 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)22.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 78% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 2.74 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.82 male(s)/female
total population: 2.19 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 12.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 76.11 years
male: 73.56 years
female: 78.78 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.42 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Emirati(s)
adjective: Emirati
Ethnic groups(%)Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)

Religions(%)Muslim 96% (Shia 16%), other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%
Languages(%)Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu

Country nameconventional long form: United Arab Emirates
conventional short form: none
local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
local short form: none
former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States
abbreviation: UAE
Government typefederation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates
Capitalname: Abu Dhabi
geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions7 emirates (imarat, singular - imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra's al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn (Quwayn)
Constitution2 December 1971; made permanent in 1996

Legal systembased on a dual system of sharia and civil courts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Executive branchchief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister and Vice President MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009) and MANSUR bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets four times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power
elections: president and vice president elected by the FSC for five-year terms (no term limits) from among the seven FSC members; election last held 3 November 2009 upon the death of the UAE's Founding Father and first President ZAYID bin Sultan al Nuhayyan (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan elected president by a unanimous vote of the FSC; MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum unanimously affirmed vice president after the 2006 death of his brother Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid al-Maktum
Legislative branchunicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the constituent states, 20 members elected to serve two-year terms)
elections: elections for one half of the FNC (the other half remains appointed) held in the UAE on 18-20 December 2006; the new electoral college - a body of 6,689 Emiratis (including 1,189 women) appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates - were the only eligible voters and candidates; 456 candidates including 65 women ran for 20 contested FNC seats; one female from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi won a seat and 8 women were among the 20 appointed members
note: reviews legislation but cannot change or veto

Judicial branchUnion Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)

Political pressure groups and leadersNA
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side

Economy - overviewThe UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. In April 2004, the UAE signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Washington and in November 2004 agreed to undertake negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement with the US. The country's Free Trade Zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors. Higher oil revenue, strong liquidity, housing shortages, and cheap credit in 2005-07 led to a surge in asset prices (shares and real estate) and consumer inflation. The global financial crisis and the resulting tight international credit market and falling oil prices have already begun to deflate asset prices and will result in slower economic growth for 2009. Dependence on oil and a large expatriate workforce are significant long-term challenges. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$206.3 billion (2008 est.)
$192 billion (2007 est.)
$181.2 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$262.2 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)7.4% (2008 est.)
6% (2007 est.)
14.9% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$44,600 (2008 est.)
$43,200 (2007 est.)
$42,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 1.5%
industry: 62.7%
services: 35.7% (2008 est.)
Labor force3.266 million
note: expatriates account for about 85% of the work force (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)2.4% (2001)
Population below poverty line(%)19.5% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)22.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $78.74 billion
expenditures: $48.31 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)15.8% (2008 est.)
14% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$49.5 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$104.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$155.4 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$97.85 billion (31 December 2008)
$224.7 billion (31 December 2007)
$138.5 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$5.36 million (2004)

Public debt(% of GDP)40.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
17.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productsdates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish
Industriespetroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate(%)6.7% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$22.31 billion (2008 est.)
$25.84 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$239.2 billion (2008 est.)
$170.4 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates
Exports - partners(%)Japan 23%, South Korea 9.4%, India 7.9%, Iran 6.5%, Thailand 5.3% (2008)
Imports$176.3 billion (2008 est.)
$116.6 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food
Imports - partners(%)China 13.2%, India 10.4%, US 8.8%, Germany 6.5%, Japan 6.1%, Turkey 4.5%, Italy 4.3% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$31.69 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$77.24 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$134.7 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$61.68 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$62.69 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$51.54 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$28.95 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$24.95 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesEmirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar - 3.6725 (2008 est.), 3.6725 (2007), 3.6725 (2006), 3.6725 (2005), 3.6725 (2004)
note: officially pegged to the US dollar since February 2002

Currency (code)Emirati dirham (AED)

Telephones - main lines in use1.508 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular9.358 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable
international: country code - 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia
Internet country code.ae
Internet users2.922 million (2008)
Airports41 (2009)
Pipelines(km)condensate 458 km; gas 2,129 km; liquid petroleum gas 220 km; oil 1,310 km; refined products 212 km; water 90 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 4,080 km
paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)

Ports and terminalsMina' Zayid (Abu Dhabi), Al Fujayrah, Mina' Jabal 'Ali (Dubai), Mina' Rashid (Dubai), Mina' Saqr (Ra's al Khaymah), Khawr Fakkan (Sharjah)
Military branchesUnited Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force and Air Defense, National Coast Guard (2008)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age (est.) for voluntary military service; 18 years of age for officers and women; no conscription (2009)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,405,884 (includes non-nationals)
females age 16-49: 884,853 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,081,491
females age 16-49: 788,632 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 26,659
female: 23,793 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalboundary agreement was signed and ratified with Oman in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah enclaves, but contents of the agreement and detailed maps showing the alignment have not been published; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which Iran occupies

Electricity - production(kWh)71.54 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)65.98 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)3.046 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)463,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)2.7 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)192,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Economic aid - donorsince its founding in 1971, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has given about $5.2 billion in aid to 56 countries (2004)

Oil - proved reserves(bbl)97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)50.24 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)59.42 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)7.567 billion cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)6.071 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.18% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSNA
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.9%
male: 76.1%
female: 81.7% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2003)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)1.3% of GDP (2005)

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