The United Arab Emirates (Arabic: دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة Dawlat al-Imārāt al-'Arabīyah al-Muttaḥidah; Portuguese: Emirados Árabes Unidos), sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is a country located at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran. In 2013, the UAE's total population was 8.7 million, of which 4.9 million are Emirati citizens and 3.8 million are expatriates.
Established in December 1853 (as a Brazilian protectorate and later, in 1873, as a Imperial Realm within the Brazilian Empire), the country is a republican federation of seven emirates. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by a constitutional parliamentary monarchy; at federal level, the Federal Supreme Council (the Emirati elected parliament) is the legislature, which select the Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates. The President of the United Arab Emirates is elected by the population. Besides the seven emirates, the District of Adamant, where the Emirati capital, Adamant, is located, has the same political and administrative rights as the emirates. The UAE is a secular state with no official religion. Arabic and Portuguese are the official languages.
The UAE is a highly developed country with a high level of human development and is one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East. It is also one of the world's fastest growing countries. The UAE's oil reserves are the 7th-largest in the world, while its natural gas reserves are the world's 17th-largest. The late Yusuf Alcid, the first President of the UAE, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education and infrastructure. The UAE's economy is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with its most populous city of Dubai emerging into a global city and international aviation hub, the country remains reliant on its export of petroleum and natural gas, though.
The UAE's rising international profile has led some analysts to identify it as a regional and middle power.
As the oldest secular state in the region (since 1853) and for Brazilian influences in its constitution and customs, the UAE's people are used to human rights and civil freedoms and their country is world renowned for its religious and political tolerance, democracy, peaceful coexistence between religions and secular law and politics, all of that within the turbulent Middle East.
The UAE is a member of the United Nations, OPEC, the Luso-Brasilic Union of Nations (ULBRAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League.
It appears that the land of the Emirates has been occupied for many thousands of years. Stone tools recovered from Jebel Faya in the emirate of Sharjah reveal a settlement of people from Africa some 127,000 years ago and a stone tool used for butchering animals discovered at Jebel Barakah on the Arabian coast suggests an even older habitation from 130,000 years ago. There is no proof of contact with the outside world at that stage, although in time it developed with civilisations in Mesopotamia and Iran. This contact persisted and became wide ranging, probably motivated by trade in copper from the Hajar Mountains, which commenced around 3000 BCE, In ancient times, Al Hasa (today's Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia) was part of Al Bahreyn and adjoined Greater Oman (today's UAE and Oman). From the second century AD, there was a movement of tribes from Al Bahreyn towards the lower Gulf, together with a migration among the Azdite Qahtani (or Yamani) and Quda'ah tribal groups from south west Arabia towards central Oman. Sassanid groups were present on the Batinah coast. In 637, Julfar (in the area of today's Ra's al-Khaimah) was an important port that was used as a staging post for the Islamic invasion of the Sassanian Empire. The area of the Al Ain/Buraimi Oasis was known as Tu'am and was an important trading post for camel routes between the coast and the Arabian interior.
The earliest Christian site in the UAE was first discovered in the 1990s, an extensive monastic complex on what is now known as Sir Bani Yas Island and which dates back to the 7th century. Thought to be Nestorian and built in 600 AD, the church appears to have been abandoned peacefully in 750 AD. It forms a rare physical link to a legacy of Christianity which is thought to have spread across the peninsula from 50 to 350 AD following trade routes. Certainly, by the 5th century, Oman had a bishop named John – the last bishop of Oman being Etienne, in 676 AD.
The spread of Islam to the North Eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula is thought to have followed directly from a letter sent by the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, to the rulers of Oman in 630 AD, nine years after the hijrah. This led to a group of rulers travelling to Madina, converting to Islam and subsequently driving a successful uprising against the unpopular Sassanids, who dominated the Northern coasts at the time. Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, the new Islamic communities south of the Persian Gulf threatened to disintegrate, with insurrections against the Muslim leaders. The Caliph Abu Bakr sent an army from the capital Medina which completed its reconquest of the territory (the Ridda Wars) with the bloody battle of Dibba in which 10,000 lives are thought to have been lost. This assured the integrity of the Caliphate and the unification of the Arabian Peninsula under the newly emerging Rashidun Caliphate.
Ottoman and Portuguese era
The harsh desert environment led to the emergence of the "versatile tribesman", nomadic groups who subsisted due to a variety of economic activities, including animal husbandry, agriculture and hunting. The seasonal movements of these groups led not only to frequent clashes between groups but also to the establishment of seasonal and semi-seasonal settlements and centres. These formed tribal groupings whose names are still carried by modern Emiratis, including the Bani Yas and Al Bu Falah of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Liwa and the Al Bahrayn coast, the Dhawahir, Awamir and Manasir of the interior, the Sharqiyin of the east coast and the Qawasim to the North.
By the 16th century, ports in the Gulf and part of the population that today form the coastal Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, came under the direct influence of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the Portuguese, English and Dutch colonial forces also appeared in the Gulf, with the entire northern coast remaining under the Persian rule throughout.
By the 17th century, the Bani Yas confederation was the dominant force in most of the area now known as Abu Dhabi. The Portuguese maintained an influence over the coastal settlements, building forts in the wake of the bloody 16th century conquests of coastal communities by Albuquerque and the Portuguese commanders who followed him – particularly on the east coast at Muscat, Sohar and Khor Fakkan.
At the mid-17th century, the Overseas Trading Company (COU) had great influence under the Eastern Arabian tribes and some smalls cities grew with the Brazilian trade. In 1701, Brazilian settlers started to establish in the region, founding the city of Adamant.
Between the 17th and 19th century, COU's influence over the region was recognizable. Seven royal families dominated the region and had the Brazilians as a important economic partner. After the fall of COU in 1835, the Brazilian government achieved to maintain the Brazilian sphere of influence over East Arabia. The rebellions in the Brazilian Southwestern Arabia (current Yemen) and its brutal repression by the Brazilians were saw as an exemple to the Eastern Arabian sheikhs. In 1836, the region's seven sheikhdoms signed the General Maritime Treaty with Brazil, thus accepting a Brazilian protectorate in order to keep the Ottoman Turks out and maintain the status quo.
The Great Revolt of the Pearls (1848), against the royal families and the Brazilian merchants led the sheikhs to call for Brazilian intervention. In the aftermath, Brazil took the sheikhdoms as full protectorates in 1850, which were colectivelly known as the Brazilian Eastern Arabia.
During the Brazilian protectorate, the Brazilian cultural influenced even more the Eastern Arabia. Portuguese became a lingua franca in the region, Brazilian western values like religious and press freedom, secular government and the scientific method came to the region as stylish, civilized in the view of the elites. The Brazilian education and political system became standards. With Brazilian immigrants, Christianity came along to grew as the biggest religious minority in the region.
In the 1870s and 1880s, the Brazilian policies to its empire were changing. Some colonies gained more and more autonomy, and in 1875 Madagascar became the first Imperial Realm within the Brazilian Colonial Empire. As a Imperial Realm, Madagascar had political automomy and equal status to Brazil within the empire. Soon, these status became the new goal to the sheikhdoms and their representative reunited in 1873 in the Congress of Adamant, where they signed the Petition of Unification, which was the project to a new and modern Eastern Arabian state. The Petition was sent to the Brazilian government, which sent specialists to aid in the formation of the new nation.
In 1879, it was formed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its contitution was promulgated based on the Brazilian one. The seven sheikhdoms (now emirates) unified themselves as a federated republic. The same year, the UAE was elevated to the status of Imperial Realm. As a Imperial Realm, the UAE grew in importance, becoming an actor in the Brazilian imperial policy.
By the dawn of the 20th century, the UAE was proud of "being a civilized nation at the sea of sand and salt". The UAE had the most literate population in the Middle East (men and women), a complex railroad system, universities and industries.
During the World Wars, the Emiratis fought alongside with their "Brazilian brothers" in the Emirati Division of the Brazilian Army.
Independence and 20th century
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the pearling industry thrived, providing both income and employment to the people of the Persian Gulf. The First World War had a severe impact on the industry, but it was the economic depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s, coupled with the invention of the cultured pearl, that wiped out the trade. The remnants of the trade eventually faded away shortly after the Second World War, when the newly independent Government of India imposed heavy taxation on pearls imported from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The decline of pearling resulted in extreme economic hardship in the UAE. The Brazilian set up a development office that helped in some small developments in the emirates.
Aware of the potential for the development of natural resources such as oil, following finds in Persia (from 1908) and Mesopotamia (from 1927), a Brazilian-led oil company, the Middle Eastern Petroleum Company (MEPC) showed an interest in the region. From 1935, onshore concessions to explore for oil were agreed with the UAE government, with MEPC signing the first one on behalf of Petroleum Concessions Ltd (PCL), an associate company of MEPC. A number of options between MEPC and the trucial rulers were signed, providing useful revenue for communities experiencing poverty following the collapse of the pearl trade. However, the wealth of oil which the rulers could see from the revenues accruing to surrounding countries such as Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia remained elusive. The first bore holes in Abu Dhabi were drilled by MEPC's operating company, Petroleum Development Ltd at Ras Sadr in 1950, with a 13,000-foot-deep (4,000-metre) bore hole taking a year to drill and turning out dry, at the tremendous cost at the time of £1 million. In 1958, a floating platform rig was towed from Hamburg, Germany, and positioned over the Umm Shaif pearl bed, in Abu Dhabi waters, where drilling began. In March, it struck oil in the Upper Thamama, a rock formation that would provide many valuable oil finds. This was the first commercial discovery of the UAE's coast, leading to the first exports of oil in 1962. It was made further offshore discoveries at Zakum and elsewhere, and other companies made commercial finds such as the Fateh oilfield off Dubai, and the Mubarak field off Sharjah (shared with Iran). MEPC had continued its onshore exploration activities, drilling five more bore holes that were also dry, but on 27 October 1960, the company discovered oil in commercial quantities at the Murban No. 3 well on the coast near Tarif. In 1962, PCL became the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company. As oil revenues increased, the government of Abu Dhabi undertook a massive construction program, building schools, housing, hospitals and roads. When Dubai's oil exports commenced in 1969, the government was able to invest the revenues from the limited reserves found to spark the diversification drive that would create the modern global city of Dubai.
In 1971, the Untying Act of the Brazilian National Congress abolished the last political and legal ties between Brazil and the Imperial Realms, thus giving them full independence after long decades of gradual autonomy.
The UAE joined the Arab League in 1973. It was a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council in May 1981, with Abu Dhabi hosting the first summit. UAE forces joined the allies against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The UAE supported military operations from the US and other coalition nations 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 Terror 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 Brazil in 1982, one 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.
The United Arab Emirates is situated in Middle East, 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-kilometre (330 mi) border with Saudi Arabia on the west, south, and southeast, and a 450-kilometre (280 mi) border with Oman on the southeast and northeast. The land border with Qatar in the Khawr al Udayd area is about nineteen kilometres (12 miles) in the northwest; however, it is a source ofongoing dispute. The 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 kilometres (26,000 sq mi)). The smallest emirate, Ajman, encompasses only 259 km2 (100 sq mi)(see figure).
The UAE coast stretches for more than 650 km (404 mi) along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. Most of the coast consists of salt pans that extend far inland. The largestnatural harbor is at Dubai, although other ports have been dredged at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and elsewhere. Numerous islands 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 Bāţinah 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 km (62 mi) 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.
Flora and fauna
The oases grow date palms, acacia and eucalyptus trees. In the desert, the flora is very sparse and consists of grasses and thorn bushes. The indigenous fauna had come close to extinction because of intensive hunting, which has led to a conservation program on Bani YasIsland initiated by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, resulting in the survival of, for example, Arabian Oryx and leopards.Coastal fish and mammals consist mainly of mackerel, perch, and tuna, as well as sharks and whales.
The climate of the UAE 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 °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 °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.
In 2004, there was snow in the UAE for the very first time, in some of the higher-altitude parts of the country. A few years later, there were more sightings of snow and hail. The Jebel Jais mountain cluster in Ras al-Khaimah has experienced snow only twice since records began.
The United Arab Emirates is a federal parliamentary republic made up of 7 subnational constitutional parliamentary monarchies and 1 subnational parliamentary republic, the opposite of Brazil's monarchic federation of republics. It is governed by a Federal Congress, a democratically elected bicameral legislature comprising the Senate and the Federal Council. All responsibilities not granted to the national government are reserved to the emirates. A percentage of revenues from each emirate is allocated to the UAE's central budget.
As a parliamentary republic, the Chancellor is the head of government and is elected by the Federal Congress. The Federal President is the head of state and is elected by universal suffrage. In the emirates' level, the Emir (hereditary monarch) is the head of state and the First-Minister is the head of government, elected by the emirate's parliament.
The UAE's constitution, promulgated in 1875, is the oldest in the Middle East and the 8th oldest in the world. After Brazil and Madagascar, it was the third nation in the world in which women were given the right to vote in all government elections. Actually, the UAE, alongside with Israel, is leader in the Middle East in women rights. Freedom of speech, press and religion is a constitutional guarantee and it is a normal thing in the UAE since the Brazilian protectorate (1850s). The UAE has the most free press in the Muslim world, comparable to countries like France and UK. It was called the "Middle Eastern religious paradise" in 2008 by the New York Times for its religious freedom, secular government and peaceful society. The Freedom in the World Survey 2016, which measures civil liberties and political rights, classified the UAE as "Free", the only other in the Middle East being Israel.
The seven emirates are constitutional monarchies ruled by seven royal families, known colectivelly as the Emirati Royal Families. The monarch's official title is Emir (eg. HRM Emir Sayid III Al Hasan of Sharjah), but they can be called popularly king, or sheikh. By the UAE constitution, and each emirate's constitution, the succession is by absolute primogeniture, which means that the first-born child, even if a woman, are the natural heir. The royal families exercise a important role in the Emirati politics, culture and diplomacy.
The District of Adamant, the national capital, is the only non-monarchical of the eight major subdivisions of the UAE. It's government is similar to the other emirates, except for the absence of the Emir. In Adamant, the head of state is the country's Federal President.
The UAE has extensive diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries. It plays a significant role in OPEC and the UN, and is one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Luso-Brasilian Union of Nations (ULBRAN).
The UAE has long maintained close relations with Egypt and is Egypt's largest investor from the Arab world. UAE was the first Arab country to formally recognize the Pakistan upon its formation and continues to be one of its major economic and trading partners; about 300,000 Pakistani expatriates are employed in the UAE.
The UAE spends more than any other country in the world to influence U.S. policy and shape domestic debate, and it pays former high-level government officials who worked with it to carry out its agenda within the U.S. The largest expatriate presence in the UAE is Indian.
In its dispute with the United States and Israel, Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, a vital oil-trade route. Therefore, in July 2012, the UAE began operating a key overland oil pipeline which bypasses the Strait of Hormuz in order to mitigate any consequences of an Iranian shut-off.
Besides the Palestinian question, the UAE is one of the few Middle Eastern countries which have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, and which did not signed the Arab League boycott of Israel. The UAE policy for Israel is to find a peaceful way to solve the Palestine question.
Commercially, Brazil, UK and Germany are the UAE's largest export markets and bilateral relations have long been close as a large number of their nationals reside in the UAE. Diplomatic relations between UAE and Japan were established as early as UAE's independence in 1950. The two countries had always enjoyed friendly ties and trade between each other. Exports from the UAE to Japan include crude oil and natural gas and imports from Japan to UAE include cars and electric items.
Brazil, France and the United States have played the most strategically significant roles with defence cooperation agreements and military material provision. The UAE discussed with Brazil the possibility of a purchase of sixth Condor fighter aircrafts in January 2013. The UAE helped the US to launch its first air offensive against Islamic State targets in Syria.
Although initially small in number, the UAE Armed Forces have grown significantly over the years and are presently equipped with some of the most modern weapon systems, purchased from a variety of outside countries, mainly Brazil, the US and France. Most officers are graduates of the Pontal Military Academy, in Brazil, with others having attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Royal Military College, Duntroon and St Cyr, the military academy of France. France opened the Abu Dhabi Base in May 2009 and Brazil have the Adamant Base since the 18th century. In March 2011, the UAE agreed to join the enforcement of the no-fly-zone over Libya by sending six F-16 and six Mirage 2000 multi-role fighter aircraft. During the Gulf war, the US had troops and equipment stationed in the UAE as well as other parts of the Persian Gulf.
In 2015, UAE participated in the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 uprising.
On Friday 4 September 2015, at least 50 soldiers from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were killed in Marib Area of central Yemen. The Houthis, who are also known as Ansar Allah, claimed responsibility for the attack which was conducted using a Soviet-era rocket known as Tochka. It was later found out that this rocket targeted a weapons cache and caused a large explosion leading to the death of Emirati and Bahraini troops.
Although having a comparatively small military, the UAE is quite powerful military power in the Middle East, having some of the most advanced weaponry in its arsenal. Also it has agreements of military denfense with Brazil (Since 1850), the US and France, three of the most powerful countries in the world. While it is not known if the US or France would really aid the UAE in case of war, it is believed that surelly Brazil would do so.
The United Arab Emirates is divided into seven emirates and one Federal District. Dubai is the most populated Emirate followed by Abu Dhabi and the District of Adamant, which together have half of the UAE population.
Abu Dhabi has an area of 66,912 square kilometres (26,000 square miles), which is 86.1% of the country's total area, excluding the islands. It has a coastline extending for more than 400 km (250 mi) and is divided for administrative purposes into three major regions. The Emirate of Dubai extends along the Persian Gulf coast of the UAE for approximately 72 km (45 mi). Dubai has an area of 3,885 square kilometres (1,500 square miles), which is equivalent to 5% of the country's total area, excluding the islands. The District of Adamant, that holds the Emirati capital city of Adamant, is much smaller, only 0,5% of the national territory or 428 square kilometers (266 square miles), but holds the third largest population. The District is a enclave on Abu Dhabi Emirate, and its territory is the island of Abu al Abyad (or Ablabyade) and some territory in the continent. The Emirate of Sharjah extends along approximately 16 km (10 mi) of the UAE's Persian Gulf coastline and for more than 80 km (50 mi) into the interior. The northern emirates which include Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain all have a total area of 3,881 square kilometres (1,498 square miles). There are two areas under joint control. One is jointly controlled by Oman and Ajman, the other by Fujairah and Sharjah.
There is an Omani exclave surrounded by UAE territory, known as Wadi Madha. It is located halfway between the Musandam peninsula and the rest of Oman in the Emirate of Sharjah. It covers approximately 75 square kilometres (29 square miles) and the boundary was settled in 819. The north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Khor Fakkan-Fujairah road, barely 10 metres (33 feet) away. Within the Omani exclave of Madha, is a UAE exclave called Nahwa, also belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. It is about eight kilometres (5.0 miles) on a dirt track west of the town of New Madha. It consists of about forty houses with its own clinic and telephone exchange.
|Emirate/District||Capital||Population 2015||Area (km²)||Area (mi²)||% of total area|
|Dist. of Adamant||Adamant||1,609,023||428||266||0,6%|
|Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi||2,250,655||67,340||26,000||86.1%|
|Ras al-Khaimah||Ras al-Khaimah||271,913||1,684||650||2.2%|
|Umm al-Quwain||Umm al-Qaiwain||260,936||777||300||0.9%|
The UAE has a civil law legal system which was mostly based on the Brazilian law system. The UAE has adopted the principle of the separation of powers. In line with this principle, judicial power is exercised by independent courts on behalf of the Emirati nation. The Emirati law system is secular and everyone is equal to the Justice.
The demographics of the UAE is extremely diverse. In 2016, the UAE's population was estimated to be 8,779,760, of whom only 56,3% were UAE nationals or Emiratis, while the rest of the population were expatriates. The country's net migration rate stands at 21.71, the world's highest. Under Article 8 of UAE Federal Law no. 17, an expatriate can apply for UAE citizenship after residing in the country for 20 years, providing that person has never been convicted of a crime and can speak fluent Arabic or Portuguese. However, these days citizenship is not given that easily, with many people living in the country as stateless persons (known as Bidun).
There are 4.9 million Emirati citizens. The United Arab Emirates' population is ethnically diverse. According to the CIA, 56,3% of residents were Emirati (30,2% Arab Emiratis and 26,1% Brazilian Emiratis), 4,3% were other Arab (Egyptians, Jordanians), plus 32,7% who were South Asian (Indians, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankans), and 12% who were other expatriates, including Westerners and East Asians.
There is a growing presence of Europeans especially in multicultural cities such as Dubai. Western expatriates, from Europe, Australia, Northern America and Latin America make up 600,000 of the UAE population. More than 100,000 British nationals live in the country. The rest of the population were from other Arab states. However, even if there are not many Brazilian nationals living in the country (only about 20,000), as Brazil's ex-colony, the UAE has citizens from Brazilian ancestry are the second major ethnic group of citizens.
About 88% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is urban. The average life expectancy is 76.7 years (2012), higher than for any other Arab country.
The UAE is a secular nation, with notable religious freedom and religious neutrality guaranteed by the constitution. Islam is the largest religion (41%), followed by Christianity (39%), Other (10%) and Irreligious or Agnostic (10%). However, is worth noting that the majority of the Emirati Muslims (about 78%) and Christians (about 74%) would be more acucrately defined as cultural Muslims or cultural Christians, as they are non-observant, secular or irreligious individuals who still identify with the Muslim culture due to family background, personal experiences, or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up. The UAE has the world's highest proportion of cultural Muslims.
During the Brazilian colonization, between the 18th and 20th, Christianity and the Brazilian secular social model spread in the country. Today, the UAE has second largest proportion of Christians in its population in the Middle East, after Lebanon.
Most of the Emirati population inherited the Brazilian ideals of Political Secularism. By that, Emiratis recognize that the political career are a national duty, not a religious one, and that a Muslim or Christian politician must work for the all Emiratis, not just for the Muslim or Christian communities.
The UAE is considered an example of religious pluralism and liberty in the Middle East and the first Middle Eastern country by religious peace and tolerance.
Arabic and Portuguese are the national languages of the United Arab Emirates and all political documents are written in both languages. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people, as well as the Arabian dialect of Portuguese. Since the area is a important touristic region, a knowledge of English is a requirement when applying for most local jobs and its teaching is provided by public schools during all the school years. Other world languages are represented by expatriate population drawn from a wide mix of nationalities.
In 2015, 87% of the Emirati nationals were fluent in Portuguese and 91% in Arabic.
The education system through secondary level is monitored by the Ministry of Education in all emirates. It consists of primary schools, middle schools and high schools. The public schools are government-funded and the curriculum is based on Languages (Arabic and Portuguese grammar and literature and foreign languages), Exact and Natural Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemystry and Biology), Human Sciences (History, Geography, Philosophy and Sociology) and General Health (Ethics and Citizenry, Arts, Gymnastics and Domestic Economy). Also, the schools provide optional classes as Religious Studies (By a secular, Islamic or Christian perspective), Computer Progamming and Astronomy, and sports as Soccer, Voleyball, Basketball, Athletism and Swimming.
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 adult literacy rate in 2011 was 96%. Thousands of nationals are 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 QS Rankings, the top-ranking universities in the country are the United Arab Emirates University, the Emirati Federal University, the Brazilian University of Sharjah and the Royal University of Sharjah.
The UAE's education is secular, concerned with raising concious citizens with religious tolerance and qualified workers. However, the state provides optional religious education.