UAE Immigration Work Permits and Visas

About the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The 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 UAE. They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is not far below the GDPs of the leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed it to play a vital role in the affairs of the region.

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Its wealth is based on oil and gas output (about 33% of GDP), and the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities. Since 1973, 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.

At present levels of production, oil and gas reserves should last for over 100 years. Despite higher oil revenues in 1999, the government has not drawn back from the economic reforms implemented during the 1998 oil price depression. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater private-sector involvement.

The contrasts between old and new in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) are not only dramatic -- they're often deliberate. The leaders of this oil-rich nation, made up of seven emirates along the Persian Gulf, have launched a major campaign to attract tourists with new hotels and new diversions. But they have also maintained policies to conserve the country's traditional culture. As a result, you can easily maneuver between past and present in the U.A.E.: You can venture into the desert on a camel trek and then indulge in the new sport, sand skiing. Or you can bargain for carpets in a souk and then enjoy a round of golf on a green surrounded by sand.

The U.A.E. is a fascinating mix of Bedouin life and international commerce. For those looking for a complete escape into desert exoticism, the country's major cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai may be disappointing. At first glance, both cities look more like Houston than Tangier. But traces of the old Bedouin and trading cultures remain in the U.A.E., although you may have to search for them.

In Dubai, historic old houses cooled by wind towers are surrounded by squeaky-clean office buildings overlooking Khor Dubai, the broad creek that bisects the city and fades out in the desert to the east. Lining the docks of the creek are dhows (traditional sailboats), whose distinctive curved prows haven't changed in centuries, although they're now more often driven by motors rather than by sails.

The U.A.E. is one of the most comfortable and pleasant places to travel in the Arab world. For women, it's a particularly easy place to travel. It's a favorite resort for vacationers from more restrictive countries in the region. Its beaches, oases, dunes and a smattering of interesting rocky formations aren't as dramatic as the scenery elsewhere in the region, but the friendliness of the people is a big plus. There's always a lot going on, particularly in the way of sports or shopping.

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