I was just in UAE a few months ago for 3 weeks, but the first time I visited was in 2000 with the Marine Corps. I was actually there twice, I think both times we pulled into Jebel Ali, if I remember correctly.

They were in the process of building the Burj Al-Arab and the Burj Khalifa. The country was completely dry then so we were totally sober on libo (liberty).

We were returning to the ship late at night and the taxi driver was obviously trying to run up the fare. He kept driving around the highway interchange in circles saying he was lost, but unfortunately for him, the Dubai State Police (Jebel Ali is part of the Dubai Emirate) were sitting in the dark on the side of the road.

Apparently, we must have passed them 2 or 3 times, so they pulled over the taxi driver with us in the vehicle. Their uniforms were immaculate and they were driving a brand new Mercedes patrol car.

We told them he was driving around circles, wasting time, so the two officers instructed the taxi driver to follow them to the port. It only took around five minutes and we were back.

UAE and Dubai particularly, are extremely safe these days, as the taxis are heavily regulated and crime is very low. Of course this incident took place when Dubai was mostly a vast desert.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), located on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, has a rich and complex history dating back thousands of years. The region was inhabited by a seafaring people who were in contact with the ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. With the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, tribes in the region converted to the new religion and the area became a key part of the Islamic world.

The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, keen to control the lucrative spice trade. They were followed by the Dutch, the British, and other European powers, all drawn by the strategic location and wealth of the area. This era was characterized by power struggles and conflicts, leading to various alliances and shifts of control.

By the 19th century, the British had established treaties with the local sheikhs, leading to a period of relative peace and stability known as the “Trucial States,” referring to a truce between the British and the local leaders. The relationship was based on the principle of protection in return for loyalty.

In the 20th century, the discovery of oil in the 1950s and 1960s dramatically changed the fortunes of the region. With newfound wealth, the Trucial States started to modernize, building infrastructure, providing education, and improving health care. Despite the oil boom, the relationship with the British continued, although it began to strain as calls for independence grew louder.

Finally, on December 2, 1971, the United Arab Emirates was born as an independent nation. The Trucial States became the seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, became the country’s first president and was instrumental in setting the UAE on a course of rapid development and modernization.

The UAE has since evolved into a dynamic, modern country with a high standard of living. Its economy, while still heavily reliant on oil, has diversified into areas like tourism, finance, and technology. The nation’s growth has been marked by the construction of futuristic skyscrapers, massive shopping malls, and man-made islands. Nevertheless, the UAE continues to preserve its cultural heritage and traditional practices, maintaining a unique blend of the old and new.

About UAE

Country Code: +971.

Crime: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is generally considered a safe country with a low crime rate, particularly in comparison to many Western countries. Violent crime is particularly rare. This can be attributed to the nation’s strict laws, extensive security apparatus, high standard of living, and strong social and cultural norms.

Crimes that do occur are often related to petty theft, credit card fraud, cybercrime, and scams. These types of crime have seen an uptick in recent years, especially with the advent and adoption of new technologies. The UAE authorities are constantly updating regulations and security measures to combat these emerging threats.

Drugs are strictly forbidden in the UAE, and the nation’s drug laws are notably severe. Possession, sale, or use of illicit substances can lead to lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, or deportation for foreigners. UAE also maintains the death penalty.

The UAE has also worked hard to combat money laundering and financial crimes, implementing strict financial regulations and oversight mechanisms, though it continues to face challenges given its role as a major global financial hub.

One particular point of controversy in regards to crime and law in the UAE has been its handling of social behavior and morality-based laws. The country’s laws and customs, based on Islamic principles, can be very different from Western norms. This has led to cases where foreigners have unknowingly violated laws relating to alcohol consumption, dress code, public displays of affection, and even social media posts, which has resulted in fines, imprisonment, or deportation.

In recent years, however, the UAE has made steps to modernize its legal system and relax some of these laws, aiming to improve its appeal as a global tourist destination and multicultural business hub. For instance, the country has introduced reforms to personal and family law, and it has eased regulations on alcohol and cohabitation for unmarried couples.

Regardless, expatriates and visitors are always advised to familiarize themselves with local laws and customs to ensure they respect the country’s cultural norms and legal code.

Currency: Dirham.

Electricity: Type G (3-pin rectangular, triangular pattern).

Language: Arabic.

Latitude and Longitude: 23.4241° N, 53.8478° E.

Population: 9.365 million (2021).

President: Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

National Parks

The United Arab Emirates, while well known for its ultra-modern cities and desert landscapes, is also home to several national parks that host a diverse array of ecosystems, from mangroves to mountains.

Mangrove National Park

Located in Abu Dhabi, the Mangrove National Park is a vibrant ecosystem that covers over 19 square kilometers. It’s a key sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife, including a rich variety of bird species, sea turtles, and gazelles. The park is best explored by kayak, which allows visitors to navigate the labyrinth of waterways under the shade of the mangrove trees.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

This is the UAE’s first national park, established to preserve the unique and beautiful desert habitat and its fascinating collection of fauna, including the Arabian Oryx. Spanning 225 square kilometers, it makes up about 5% of the total land area of Dubai. Various activities such as wildlife safaris, sandboarding, and traditional Arabic meals allow visitors to experience this environment and its culture.

Hatta Mountain Conservation Reserve

Nestled amidst the rugged Hajar Mountains, Hatta offers a different perspective on the UAE’s natural environment. The area is known for its cool climate, mountainous terrain, and fresh water pools. It’s also a hub for outdoor activities, with hiking, biking, and kayaking among the offerings.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Another gem located in Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. It’s particularly famous for its flamingo population, and it hosts an impressive array of other birds, both resident and migratory. The reserve covers around five square kilometers and includes wetlands, sabkhas (salt flats), and fossilized sands and dunes.

Jebel Hafeet National Park

This park is centered around Jebel Hafeet mountain, the second highest peak in the UAE. It’s located near Al Ain, straddling the border with Oman. The park is known for its unique biodiversity, archaeological sites, and the stunning view from the top of the mountain. The foothills of Jebel Hafeet are home to several important archaeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age.

Sir Bani Yas Island

Located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island is a wildlife reserve established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today, it’s home to more than 10,000 free-roaming animals, including Arabian Oryx, gazelles, giraffes, and cheetahs. It’s a popular spot for wildlife drives, nature walks, and bird watching.