The UAE is a federation of seven emirates. Each emirate is governed by a hereditary emir, and chooses one of its members to be the president of the federation of seven emirates. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The capital is Abu Dhabi, which is also the state's center of commercial and cultural activities. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and Arabic is the official language.
Since 1962, when Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil, the country's society and economy have been transformed. The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE at its inception, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education and national infrastructure.
UAE oil reserves are ranked as the world's seventh-largest. It also possesses the world's seventeenth largest natural gas reserves. The UAE has one of the most developed economies in Western Asia. Per capita income is the world's seventh highest.
The earliest known human habitation in the UAE dated from 5500 BC. At this early stage, there is proof of interaction with the outside world, particularly with civilizations to the northwest in Mesopotamia. These contacts persisted and became wide-ranging, probably motivated by trade in copper from the Hajar Mountains, which commenced around 3000 BC. Foreign trade, the recurring motif in the history of this strategic region, flourished also in later periods, facilitated by the domestication of the camel at the end of the second millennium BC.
By the 1st century AD overland caravan traffic between Syria and cities in southern Iraq began. Also, there was seaborne travel to the important port of Omana (present-day Umm al-Qaiwain) and then to India. These routes were an alternative to the Red Sea route used by the Romans. Pearls had been exploited in the area for millennia but at this time the trade reached new heights. Seafaring was also a mainstay and major fairs were held at Dibba, bringing in merchants from as far as China.
Advent of Islam
The arrival of envoys from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad [P.B.U.H] in 630 heralded the conversion of the region to Islam. After Muhammad, one of the major battles of the Ridda Wars was fought at Dibba resulting in the defeat of the non-Muslims and the triumph of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.
In 637, Julfar (today Ra's al-Khaimah) was used as a staging post for the Islamic invasion of Sasanian Iran. Over many centuries, Julfar became a wealthy port and pearling center from which dhows travelled throughout the Indian Ocean especially to neighboring land of Sindh and its cities of Thatta and Debal.
Beginning of the oil era
Oil was first discovered in the 1950s. At the beginning of the 1960s, the first oil company teams carried out preliminary surveys and the first cargo of crude was exported from Abu Dhabi in 1962. As oil revenues increased, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, undertook a massive construction program, building schools, housing, hospitals and roads. When Dubai’s oil exports commenced in 1969, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the de facto ruler of Dubai, was also able to use oil revenues to improve the quality of life of his people.
In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Oman over the Buraimi Oasis, another territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE government and is not recognized by the Saudi government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.
The British had set up a development office that helped in some small developments in the emirates. The seven sheikhs of the emirates then decided to form a council to coordinate matters between them and took over the development office. In 1952, they formed the Trucial States Council, and appointed Adi Bitar, Sheikh Rashid's legal advisor, as Secretary General and Legal Advisor to the Council. The council was terminated once the United Arab Emirates was formed. The development of the oil industry in the 1960s, encouraged unification of the sheikdoms. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and the British started losing their oil investments and contracts to U.S. oil companies. As independence loomed in 1968, Bahrain and Qatar joined the Trucial States. Differences caused them to leave the union in 1971.
By 1966 it had become clear the British Government could no longer afford to administer and protect what is now the United Arab Emirates. British MPs debated the preparedness of the Royal Navy to defend the trucial sheikhdoms. Secretary of State for Defence Denis Healey reported that the British Armed Forces were seriously overstretched and in some respects dangerously under-equipped to defend the trucial sheikhdoms. On 24 January 1968, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced the government's decision, reaffirmed in March 1971 by Prime Minister Edward Heath to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial sheikhdoms that had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. Days after the announcement, the ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, fearing vulnerability, tried to persuade the British to honour the protection treaties by offering to pay the full costs of keeping the British Armed Forces in the Emirates. The British Labour government rejected the offer. After Labour MP Goronwy Roberts informed Sheikh Zayed of the news of British withdrawal, the nine Gulf sheikhdoms attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were still unable to agree on terms of union even though the British treaty relationship was to expire in December of that year.
Bahrain became independent in August, and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on 1 December 1971, they became fully independent. The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai decided to form a union between their two emirates independently, prepare a constitution, then call the rulers of the other five emirates to a meeting and offer them the opportunity to join. It was also agreed between the two that the constitution be written by 2 December 1971. On that date, at the Dubai Guesthouse Palace, four other emirates agreed to enter into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The emirates of Bahrain and Qatar were also invited to join the Union, but they declined the invitation. Ras al-Khaimah joined later, in early 1972. In February 1972, the Federal National Council (FNC) was created; it was a 40 member consultative body appointed by the seven rulers.
The UAE joined the Arab League in 1971. It was a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council in May 1981 and its first summit was held in Abu Dhabi. UAE forces joined the allies against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in 1991.
The UAE supported military operations from the United States and other Coalition nations that are engaged in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan (2001) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq (2003) as well as operations supporting the Global War on Terrorism for the Horn of Africa at Al Dhafra Air Base located outside of Abu Dhabi. The air base also supported Allied operations during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Operation Northern Watch. The country had already signed a military defense agreement with the U.S. in 1994 and one with France in 1995. In January 2008, France and the UAE signed a deal allowing France to set up a permanent military base in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The UAE joined international military operations in Libya in March 2011.
On 2 November 2004, the UAE's first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, succeeded as Emir of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the constitution, the UAE's Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa as president. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In January 2006, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, died, and the crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum assumed both roles.
The first-ever national elections were held in the UAE on 16 December 2006. A small number of hand-picked voters chose half of the members of the Federal National Council—which is an advisory body.
Largely unaffected by the Arab Spring turmoil, the government has nonetheless clamped down on Internet activism. In April 2011, five activists who signed an online petition calling for reforms were imprisoned. They were pardoned and released in November. Since March 2012 more than 60 activists have been detained without charge (at the time) – some of them supporters of the Islah Islamic group. A member of the ruling family in Ras al-Khaimah was put under house arrest in April 2012 after calling for political openness. Mindful of the protests in nearby Bahrain, in November 2012 the UAE outlawed online mockery of its own government or attempts to organise public protests through social media.
The United Arab Emirates is situated in Southwest Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia; it is in a strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil. The UAE lies between 22°30' and 26°10' north latitude and between 51° and 56°25′ east longitude. It shares a 530-kilometer border with Saudi Arabia on the west, south, and southeast, and a 450-kilometer border with Oman on the southeast and northeast. The land border with Qatar in the Khawr al Udayd area is about nineteen kilometers in the northwest; however, it is a source of ongoing dispute. Following Britain's military departure from UAE in 1971, and its establishment as a new state, the UAE laid claim to islands resulting in disputes with Iran that remain unresolved. UAE also disputes claim on other islands against the neighboring state of Qatar. The largest emirate, Abu Dhabi, accounts for 87% of the UAE's total area (67,340 square kilometers). The smallest emirate, Ajman, encompasses only 259 square kilometers.
The UAE coast stretches for more than 650 kilometers along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. Most of the coast consists of salt pans that extend far inland. The largest natural harbor is at Dubai, although other ports have been dredged at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and elsewhere. Numerous islands[which?] are found in the Persian Gulf, and the ownership of some of them has been the subject of international disputes with both Iran and Qatar. The smaller islands, as well as many coral reefs and shifting sandbars, are a menace to navigation. Strong tides and occasional windstorms further complicate ship movements near the shore. The UAE also has a stretch of the Al BÄÅ£inah coast of the Gulf of Oman, although the Musandam Peninsula, the very tip of Arabia by the Strait of Hormuz is an exclave of Oman separated by the UAE.
South and west of Abu Dhabi, vast, rolling sand dunes merge into the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia. The desert area of Abu Dhabi includes two important oases with adequate underground water for permanent settlements and cultivation. The extensive Liwa Oasis is in the south near the undefined border with Saudi Arabia. About 100 kilometers to the northeast of Liwa is the Al-Buraimi oasis, which extends on both sides of the Abu Dhabi-Oman border. Lake Zakher is a man-made lake near the border with Oman.
Prior to withdrawing from the area in 1971, Britain delineated the internal borders among the seven emirates in order to preempt territorial disputes that might hamper formation of the federation. In general, the rulers of the emirates accepted the British intervention, but in the case of boundary disputes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and also between Dubai and Sharjah, conflicting claims were not resolved until after the UAE became independent. The most complicated borders were in the Al-Hajar al-Gharbi Mountains, where five of the emirates contested jurisdiction over more than a dozen enclaves.
The climate of the U.A.E is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 45 °C (113.0 °F) on the coastal plain. In the Al Hajar Mountains, temperatures are considerably lower, a result of increased elevation. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C (50 and 57.2 °F).
During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as Sharqi (i.e. "Easterner") makes the coastal region especially unpleasant. The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 mm (4.7 in), but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 mm (13.8 in). Rain in the coastal region falls in short, torrential bursts during the summer months, sometimes resulting in floods in ordinarily dry wadi beds. The region is prone to occasional, violent dust storms, which can severely reduce visibility. The Jebel Jais mountain cluster in Ras al-Khaimah has experienced snow only twice since records began.
Government and politics
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of absolute hereditary monarchies. It is governed by a Federal Supreme Council made up of the seven emirs of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain. All responsibilities not granted to the national government are reserved to the emirates. A percentage of revenues from each emirate are allocated to the UAE’s central budget.
Although elected by the Supreme Council, the president and prime minister are essentially hereditary. The emir of Abu Dhabi holds the presidency, and the emir of Dubai is prime minister. All but one prime minister served concurrently as vice president. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the UAE's president from the nation's founding until his death on 2 November 2004. On the following day the Federal Supreme Council elected his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to the post. Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is the heir apparent.
The UAE convened a half-elected Federal National Council in 2006. The FNC consists of 40 members drawn from all the emirates. Half are appointed by the rulers of the constituent emirates, and the other half are indirectly elected to serve two-year terms. However, the FNC is restricted to a largely consultative role. In December 2008, the Supreme Council approved constitutional amendments both to empower the FNC and to improve government transparency and accountability.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) eGovernment is the extension of the UAE Federal Government in its electronic form.
The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates confers equality, liberty, rule of law, presumption of innocence in legal procedures, inviolability of the home, freedom of movement, freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of communication, freedom of religion, freedom of council and association, freedom of occupation, freedom to be elected to office and others onto all citizens, within the limit of the law.
A constitutionally independent judiciary includes the Federal Supreme Court. However, Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah do not belong to the national judiciary. All emirates have their own secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts.
The court system comprises Sharia courts and civil courts. The Personal Status Law, which is based on Sharia and was enacted in 2005, regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody. In criminal matters a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man before a court. Sharia courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear family disputes, including matters involving divorce, inheritances, child custody, child abuse and guardianship of minors. Sharia courts may, at the federal level only, also hear appeals of certain criminal cases including rape, robbery, driving under the influence of alcohol and related crimes. Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah are not part of the federal judicial system.
Homosexual relationships are illegal: article 80 of the Abu Dhabi Penal Code makes sodomy punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years, while article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai imposes imprisonment of up to 10 years on consensual sodomy. Foreigners generally receive deportation, which is sometimes temporary. Prospective foreign employees infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or HIV will not be given work visas and have to leave the country.
During the month of Ramadan, between sunrise and sunset, it is illegal to publicly eat, drink (even water), or smoke. Exceptions are made for pregnant or nursing women, as well as children. This applies to non-Muslims as well as Muslims, and failure to comply may result in arrest.
Article 1 of the 1987 Federal Penal Code states that "provisions of the Islamic Law shall apply to the crimes of doctrinal punishment, punitive punishment and blood money." The Federal Penal Code repealed only those provisions within the penal codes of individual Emirates which are contradictory to the Federal Penal Code. Hence, both are enforceable simultaneously. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that wife beating is not illegal, as long as it leaves no physical marks on the victim.
The UAE has a relatively high Human Development Index among the Asian continent, ranking forty-first globally. In 2011, UAE is ranked as the 14th best nation in the world for doing business based on its economy and regulatory environment, ranked by the Doing Business 2011 Report published by the World Bank Group.
The GDP growth rate for 2010 was 3.20%. CPI inflation in the April 2008 — April 2009 year was 1.9%. The national debt as of June 2009 was $142 billion. In 2009, its GDP, as measured by purchasing power parity, stood at US$ 400.4 billion. With a population of just under 900,000 Abu Dhabi was labeled "The richest city in the world" by a CNN article.
Petroleum and natural gas exports play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. More than 85% of the UAE's economy was based on the exports of natural resources in 2009. The UAE has tried to reduce its dependency on oil exports by diversifying the economy, particularly in the financial, tourism and construction sectors. While Abu Dhabi remained relatively conservative in its approach, Dubai, which has far smaller oil reserves, was bolder in its diversification policy.
Emirati law does not allow trade unions to exist. The right to collective bargaining and the right to strike are not recognised, and the Ministry of Labour has the power to force workers to go back to work. Migrant workers who participate in a strike can have their work permits cancelled and be deported.
The UAE's economy, particularly that of Dubai, was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2007–2010. In 2009, the country's economy shrank by 4.00% and the property sector and construction went into decline. However, tourism, trade and the retail sector have remained buoyant and the UAE's overseas investments are expected to support its full economic recovery. Concern remains about the property sector. Property prices in Dubai fell dramatically when Dubai World, the government construction company, sought to delay a debt payment.
The UAE has been spending billions of dollars on infrastructure. These developments are particularly evident in the larger emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The northern emirates are rapidly following suit, providing major incentives for developers of residential and commercial property.
Dubai International Airport was the 6th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic in 2008. As roads in the western and southern regions are still relatively undeveloped, residents prevalently use airplanes as the main or alternative mode of transportation. A 1,200 km (750 mi) country-wide national railway is under construction which will connect all the major cities and ports. The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. The major ports of the United Arab Emirates are Khalifa Port, Mina Zayed, Port Jebel Ali, Port Rashid, Port Khalid, Port Saeed, and Port Khor Fakkan.
The UAE has signed peaceful nuclear agreements with France, United States, and South Korea, and a MOU with the United Kingdom. The UAE is presently serviced by two telecommunications operators, Etisalat and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company ("du"). Etisalat operated a monopoly until du launched mobile services in February 2007. Internet subscribers are expected to increase from 0.904 million in 2007 to 2.66 million in 2012. The authorities filter websites for religious, political and sexual content.
The demographics of the UAE is extremely diverse. In 2010, the UAE's population was estimated at 8,264,070, of whom only 13% were UAE nationals or Emiratis, while the majority of the population were expatriates. The country's net migration rate stands at 21.71, the world's highest. In recent years, many expatriates have been demanding citizenship but there is currently no naturalisation process in the UAE.
With a male/female sex ratio of 2.2 for the total population and 2.75 for the 15–65 age group, the UAE's gender imbalance is second highest in the world after Qatar.
In 2009, Emirati citizens accounted for 16.5% of the total population; South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi) constituted the largest group, making up 58.4% of the total; other Asians made up 16.7% while Western expatriates were 8.4% of the total population.
There is a growing presence of Europeans especially in multi-cultural cities such as Dubai. Western expatriates, from Europe, Australia, Northern Africa, Africa and Latin America make up 500,000 of the UAE population. The UAE has also attracted a small number of expatriates from countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. More than 100,000 British nationals live in the country. The rest of the population were from other Arab states.
The average life expectancy is 76.7 years (2012), higher than for any other Arab country. About 88% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is urban.
Islam is the largest and the official state religion of the UAE, the government follows a policy of tolerance toward other religions and rarely interferes in the activities of non-Muslims.
The government imposes restrictions on spreading other religions through any form of media as it is considered a form of proselytizing. There are approximately 31 churches throughout the country, one Hindu temple in the region of Bur Dubai, one Sikh Gurudwara in Jebel Ali and also a Buddhist temple in Al Garhoud.
Based on the Ministry of Economy census in 2005, 76% of the total population was Muslim, 9% Christian, and 15% other (mainly Hindu). Census figures do not take into account the many "temporary" visitors and workers while also counting Baha'is and Druze as Muslim. Among Emirati citizens, 85% are Sunni Muslim, while Shi'a Muslims are 15%, mostly concentrated in the emirates of Sharjah and Dubai. Omani immigrants are mostly Ibadi, while Sufi influences exist too.
Arabic is the national and official language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. English is used as a second language, and as the primary lingua franca. Malayalam, the official language of Kerala (India) is spoken widely by the Malayali community that forms a huge majority of the Indian Diaspora in the UAE. Other widely used languages are Hindi-Urdu and Tagalog, spoken by the large South Asian and Filipino diasporas, respectively.
The traditional food of the Emirates has always been rice, fish, and meat. The people of the United Arab Emirates have adopted most of their foods from the surrounding countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Seafood has been the mainstay of the Emirati diet for centuries. Meat and rice are other staple foods; lamb and mutton are the more favored meats, then goat and beef. Popular beverages are coffee and tea, which can be supplemented with cardamom, saffron, or mint to give them a distinct flavor.
Muslims are prohibited from eating pork, so it is not included in Arab menus. Hotels frequently have pork substitutes such as beef sausages and veal rashers on their breakfast menus. If pork is available, it is clearly labeled as such.
Alcohol is generally only served in hotel restaurants and bars (but not in Sharjah). All nightclubs and golf clubs are permitted to sell alcohol. Specific supermarkets may sell alcohol and pork, but these products are sold in separate sections.
Football is the most popular sport in the UAE. Emirati football clubs Al-Ain, Al-Wasl, Al-Shabbab ACD, Al-Sharjah, Al-Wahda, and Al-Ahli are the most popular teams and enjoy the reputation of long-time regional champions. The great rivalries keep the UAE energized as people fill the streets when their favorite team wins. The United Arab Emirates Football Association was first established in 1971 and since then has dedicated its time and effort to promoting the game, organizing youth programs and improving the abilities of not only its players, but of the officials and coaches involved with its regional teams. The UAE national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1990 with Egypt. It was the third consecutive World Cup with two Arab nations qualifying, after Kuwait and Algeria in 1982, and Iraq and Algeria again in 1986. The UAE won the Gulf Cup Championship two times.They won the first cup in January 2007 held in Abu Dhabi and has won the recent cup in January 2013 held in Bahrain.
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the UAE, largely because of the expatriate population from the Indian subcontinent, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah has hosted 4 international test cricket matches so far. Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Al Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi also hosted international cricket matches. Dubai has two cricket stadiums (Dubai Cricket Ground No.1 and No.2) with a third, 'S3' currently under construction as part of Dubai Sports City. Dubai is also home to the International Cricket Council. The UAE national cricket team qualified for the 1996 Cricket World Cup and narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Formula One is particularly popular in the United Arab Emirates, and is annually held at the picturesque Yas Marina Circuit. The race is held at evening time, and is the first ever Grand Prix to start in daylight and finish at night. Other popular sports include camel racing, falconry, endurance riding, and tennis.
The education system through secondary level is monitored by the Ministry of Education in all emirates except Abu Dhabi, where it falls under the authority of the Abu Dhabi Education Council. It consists of primary schools, middle schools and high schools. The public schools are government-funded and the curriculum is created to match the United Arab Emirates development's goals and values. The medium of instruction in the public school is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language. There are also many private schools which are internationally accredited. Public schools in the country are free for citizens of the UAE, while the fees for private schools vary.
The higher education system is monitored by the Ministry of Higher Education. The ministry also is responsible for admitting students to its undergraduate institutions.
The literacy rate in 2007 was 91%. Currently there are thousands of nationals pursuing formal learning at 86 adult education centres spread across the country.
The UAE has shown a strong interest in improving education and research. Enterprises include the establishment of the CERT Research Centers and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Institute for Enterprise Development. According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the United Arab Emirates University (1167th worldwide), the American University of Sharjah (2447th) and Higher Colleges of Technology (2614th).
The life expectancy at birth in the UAE is at 78.5 years. Cardiovascular disease is the principal cause of death in the UAE, constituting 28% of total deaths; other major causes are accidents and injuries, malignancies, and congenital anomalies.
In February 2008, the Ministry of Health unveiled a five-year health strategy for the public health sector in the northern emirates, which fall under its purview and which, unlike Abu Dhabi and Dubai, do not have separate healthcare authorities. The strategy focuses on unifying healthcare policy and improving access to healthcare services at reasonable cost, at the same time reducing dependence on overseas treatment. The ministry plans to add three hospitals to the current 14, and 29 primary healthcare centres to the current 86. Nine were scheduled to open in 2008.
The introduction of mandatory health insurance in Abu Dhabi for expatriates and their dependants was a major driver in reform of healthcare policy. Abu Dhabi nationals were brought under the scheme from 1 June 2008 and Dubai followed for its government employees. Eventually, under federal law, every Emirati and expatriate in the country will be covered by compulsory health insurance under a unified mandatory scheme. Recently the country has been benefiting from medical tourists from all over the GCC. The UAE currently attracts medical tourists seeking plastic surgery and advanced procedures, cardiac and spinal surgery, and dental treatment, as health services have higher standards than other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.