The UAE was created as a federation and became a unified independent sovereign state in 1971. In addition to Abu Dhabi, which is the largest constituent in terms of both area and population, its members are Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
Historically, in such a harsh climate, communities inhabited areas where there was access to water. In the desert interiors, life was sustained by nomadic herding of camels, goats and sheep with date farming and limited cultivation of other crops around the scattered oases. On the coast, trade with neighbouring peoples and fishing became more important, as did the harvesting of pearls in some locations, until its decline in the 1930ís. Early in the19th century, the British gained a foothold in the Gulf and became increasingly more influential until their departure in 1971. This prompted seven leaders of various sheikhdoms in the southern Gulf to form the UAE.
The most pleasant time to visit is during the cooler months from November to March when temperatures average around 24C during the day and 13C at night. What little rainfall there is tends to fall during this period. April to October summer temperatures can soar to around 45C making a refreshing dip in the sea even more inviting. In the summer there is also high humidity but air conditioning helps to soften the impact. Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year
The population of the UAE has grown dramatically over the last few decades and stands at over four million, many of whom are expatriate residents who live and work in the country.
Arabic is the official language but English is widely spoken, especially in hotels and shops.