49 fascinating facts about the UAE to celebrate its 49th National Day
Which is the smallest emirate? Which area did the British dub ‘Pirate Coast’? How many date palms are there across the UAE? Read on and find out …
Though celebrations may look a little different this year, as the UAE celebrates its National Day on December 2, the Spirit of the Union and sense of community remain as strong as ever.
And to celebrate the UAE and its many achievements, enjoy these 49 facts about the Emirates on its 49th National Day, for residents, tourists and budding historians alike …
1. The UAE’s National Day is celebrated on December 2 each year and marks the unification of the emirates into a federation.
2. The UAE is a federation made up of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.
3. Six of the seven emirates combined on December 2, 1971, but Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation later, on February 10, 1972.
4. The UAE was founded under the leadership and vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, known as the Founding Father.
5. The national anthem of the UAE is Ishy Bilady, which translates as Long Live My Country.
6. The falcon is the UAE’s national bird, and falconry is at the heart of Emirati culture.
7. In 2019, the oldest known pearl in the world was discovered on Marawah Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi. It is estimated to be around 8,000 years old.
8. The seven sheikhdoms were formerly known as the Trucial States, in reference to treaty relations established with Britain in the 19th century.
9. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.
10. In Arabic, abu means “father” and dhabi means “gazelle”. Abu Dhabi, therefore, translates as: “Father of the Gazelle”.
11. The UAE is a member of the UN, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Opec and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
12. The UAE shares a border with two countries: Saudi Arabia and Oman.
13. In order of the emirates' size, the largest is Abu Dhabi at 67,340 square kilometres and the smallest is Ajman at 259 square kilometres.
14. The UAE’s oil reserves are currently the sixth largest in the world.
15. Size-wise, the UAE is slightly bigger than the US state of South Carolina.
16. In 1998, Sharjah was named the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by Unesco.
17. Dubai is home to the world’s highest building, the Burj Khalifa, which stands 829.8 metres tall, if you count to the tip of its antenna.
18. Dubai is home to the world’s first-ever seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab.
19. Excavations at archaeological sites in Ajman have traced human history in the area back to around 3,000 BC.
20. In the mid-18th century, the British dubbed the Arabian Gulf “Pirate Coast” due to its conflicts with the Qawasim, a maritime dynasty headquartered in Ras Al Khaimah but with outposts on both sides of the Strait of Hormuz.
21. In English, Ras Al Khaimah means “top of the tent”, referencing its location in the northernmost part of the UAE.
22. Sir Bani Yas Island, located off the coast of the UAE’s western region, is home to the oldest pre-Islamic Christian archaeological site in the country.
23. Umm Al Quwain is the least densely populated of all seven emirates.
24. Sharjah is the only emirate that shares its borders with all the other six emirates of the UAE.
25. Sharjah translates as “rising sun” in English.
26. Fujairah was long believed to be home to the oldest mosque in the UAE, Al Badiyah Mosque, which was built in the 1440s. However, in 2018, archaeologists from the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi discovered the oldest known mosque in the UAE at the site of the Sheikh Khalifa mosque at Awd Al Tawbah in Al Ain. The building dates back 1,000 years to Islam’s Early Golden Age of the Abbasid Caliphate
27. Ajman was first recognised as an autonomous state in 1820.
28. In 2005, the UAE ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change, becoming one of the first major oil-producing countries to do so.
29. Umm Al Quwain means “Mother of two powers”.
30. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi boasts the world’s fastest roller coaster. The Formula Rossa is more than 2.2 kilometres in track length and can reach speeds of over 240 kilometres per hour.
31. The UAE’s first airport (1932) and library (1933) were all built in Sharjah.
32. Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can accommodate around 41,000 worshippers.
33. In February 2019, Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to visit and perform papal mass in the Arabian Peninsula during his visit to Abu Dhabi.
34. There are around 40 million date palms in the UAE.
35. Ras Al Khaimah is home to the world’s longest zip line. It starts from the top of Jebel Jais and ends at the foot of the Hajar Mountains, spanning 2.8km.
36. Sharjah is twinned with the city of Granada in Spain.
37. Fujairah used to be called Ard Al Jababerah, which means “land of titans”.
38. Humpback dolphins can be spotted in the coastal waters around Abu Dhabi.
39. One of the UAE's earliest initiatives to include classes for girls at schools was Al Islah School in Sharjah in the 1930s.
40. Fujairah does not have a desert and is mostly mountainous.
41. The UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap report.
42. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world at 1,124,000 square metres of total area, the equivalent of 50 football pitches.
43. In 2004, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was appointed the UAE’s first female minister.
44. The UAE's resident population consists of more than 200 nationalities. Arabic is the official language, while other commonly spoken languages include English, Farsi, Hindi and Urdu.
45. The first evidence of human life in the UAE was discovered on Jebel Faya in Sharjah, and dates back to around 85,000 BC
46. In 2008, Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC) purchased 90 per cent of the Chrysler Building in New York for $800 million. They sold their stake 10 years later.
47. In 2009, the UAE announced it would recruit its first female mufti, or religious scholar.
48. In 2009, the UAE became the first country in the Middle East to host the Fifa Club World Cup tournament.
49. In 1968, there were only 13 cars registered in Dubai. In 2020, there are almost 3 million registered across the whole of the UAE.
Published: December 2, 2020 07:17 AM