From the Desk of Loy Machedo: 111 Shocking, Fun & Controversial Facts About UAE No One Will Tell You
About me and why I am qualified to write about the UAE
• My parents and 16 relatives came down to the UAE in the 1970’s
• I am the second generation expatriate who was raised in UAE
• I started & completed my schooling in Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah, UAE
• I went to Skyline College, Sharjah & Dropped Out
• Worked 36 jobs in total, Ran 5 businesses in total, experienced 4 employment bans, 1 entry ban
• I was put in jail for 5 times (thankfully for a few hours)
1) Blaring my horn at an Arab Local (who was friends with a cop),
2) An Arab Local Woman complained against me stating I put her picture on my facebook account without her permission (when she explicitly had allowed me as she was my student)
3) Because I looked like the devil
4) Because someone assumed I was the Anti-Christ
5) Because of my tattoos
So I guess I am qualified to speak about the UAE.
Before you prejudge and assume that I hate the UAE or this is an article to badmouth the UAE – let me tell you – UAE is one of the best countries in the world to live in.
It seriously is.
There is no place in the entire planet like the UAE where Fortunes have been made, dreams have been accomplished, legacies have been built. And UAE especially Dubai, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – has achieved something no human being, no country or super power could have done – Build a Global Brand like UAE.
From the tallest tower in the world, to the biggest shopping mall, to the richest horse race, to the greatest world records – all have been made possible in the UAE.
However, just as no human being is perfect, no law is perfect, no country is also perfect.
In the UAE, there is a simple rule.
You mind your own business and do your own thing and respect the rules of the land – no one will bother you, no one will trouble you and you can live happily. However, when you forget these simple rules – you land in a lot of trouble.
Here are few good, bad and ugly facts about the UAE which I have tried to present in the most fair and honest way possible. I hope you like it as much as I have enjoyed writing about it.
But whatever said and done – I can tell you this much – UAE is truly the greatest country in the world and the leadership of the UAE is by far one of the most amazing I have ever seen.
And if I could single out 3 people whom I consider as the greatest that the UAE has ever produced – it would be:
• Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – The Ruler of Dubai
• H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum – The next heir to the Dubai Throne
• And the grestest among them all – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – The Father of UAE.
My love and respect to them and UAE as the place where I spent my childhood and the best years of my life.
So here is my version of Facts about the UAE.
If you like the article, do share it with others.
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111 Shocking, Fun & Controversial Facts About UAE No One Will Tell You
1. Established in December, 1971, the seven emirates of UAE are Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch; together the monarchs make up the Federal Supreme Council. One of the seven monarchs is selected as the President of the United Arab Emirates.
2. The UAE was founded under the visionary leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, known as the father of the nation.
3. Islam is the official religion of UAE.
4. Arabic is the official language of UAE but English is most widely used.
5. UAE nationals, called Emiratis, make up only 10-15 percent of the Dubai population.
6. The Majority population in the UAE – 85 percent of the expatriate population is Asian, chiefly Indian (51%), Pakistani (16%), Bangladeshis (9%) and Filipinos (3%.)
7. The currency of UAE is the dirham.
8. UAE boasts of Zero Income Tax however, living in UAE is a nightmare for many as the rents and other expenses can be increased to even 100% annually without any warning or notification
9. The UAE’s National Day is celebrated on December 2nd of each year and marks the unification of the emirates into a federation.
10. The UAE has a literacy rate of 93%.
11. The falcon is the UAE’s national symbol. Falconry is at the heart of Emirati culture and is a popular pastime.
12. Women in the UAE account for about 70 per cent of all university graduates in the country and fill around two thirds of government jobs.
13. The UAE is home to over 40 churches and cathedrals as well as additional places of worship for other faiths.
14. UAE has no address system, no zip codes, no area codes and no postal system. For a package to be sent properly, the sender would have to leave proper directions to the destination of said package.
15. UAE has no sewer system, instead they use poop trucks to haul the entire cities’ excrement away.
16. Thousands of Fake Degrees are made used in UAE by employees to get a job or promoted because there is no method of checking the validity. (Over the 40 years of being in UAE, I know scores who have done this). Fake Universities & Companies like Genius Group Global (I know this because I worked for the company) do this openly. All you have to do is get a fake degree attested through an attestation company through both the consulates – and it is considered legal. Once it is used for the purpose of a promotion or job – you do not need it.
17. Emiritasation has always been a goal but a failed attempt in the UAE as Arab Locals & Citizens of the country expect very high salaries, low number of hours to work and are mostly unproductive.
18. The unspoken rule in the UAE is – if you take an Arab Local Muslim to court and you are an expat – by default – you are guilty until proven innocent.
19. If an Arab Local Woman makes a criminal case against you – most probably you are jailed without evidence. (I know this for a fact – details I cannot divulge)
20. UAE has succeeded primarily on speculation & over-the-top promises like 99-years Freehold Visa, Freehold Property, Booming Market, Booming Economy.
21. Expo 2020 is right now the biggest speculation because of which rents, costs and inflation is sky rocketing. However, no one knows what Expo 2020 is, what it will do for the country or how it will benefit the common man.
22. Some of the biggest controversies (which are not published) in the UAE are non-payment to vendors AFTER the job is completed, being jailed due to fights with powerful locals, Payment to the government related projects & non-deliveries & non fulfillment of promises, non-delivery of the so called ‘wonders of Dubai’ (Palm Island, World Island).
23. Sharjah (one of the emirates) came out with a booklet titled “Decency Law”
24. Sharjah Police have arrested men for wearing ear-rings, wearing shorts, holding hands with members of the opposite sex and even for tattoos (Guess who got arrested?)
25. UAE Sharia law is infamous for arresting women who have been raped – because as per Sharia Law – the rape victim is guilty until proven innocent – unless of course 4 Muslim men are witness to the crime.
26. The majority of the projects in Dubai, – Falcon City, Sports City, Health Care City, Academic City, Outzone City, World Island, Palm 2 & 3 – are all flops and major liabilities. However, no one talks about it as it is not allowed.
27. RAK, UAQ and Ajman (one of the emirates) all started Freehold properties taking Billions from the common man and the expats. None of the projects were delivered and the Billions vanished.
28. Prostitution is rampant in Dubai, UAE however, no one talks about it. Want proof? Go to Bur Dubai or Deira at 3am and walk down any hotel. You will see enough and more of prostitutes.
29. The internet was first available in Dubai and the UAE in 1995. Internet content is regulated throughout the UAE, and a proxy server filters content that the government deems to be inconsistent with the values of the country, such as sites pertaining to dating, gay and lesbian networks, and pornography. However with a VPN you can by pass this (do it only privately)
30. Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates & is known as the leading global city in the Middle East.
31. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two of the seven emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the United Arab Emirates legislature.
32. About 88 sq. miles of Dubai are the result of land reclaimed from the sea.
33. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was known as Burj Dubai initially. However, because of Sheikh Khalifa helping Dubai out of a serious debt, the ruler of Dubai, in honor of this act of brotherhood, named the tallest building in the world after named in honor of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
34. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa – Rising to a height of 2,722 feet – is the world’s tallest building. Burj Khalifa was designed by Adrian Smith then of the Chicago-headquartered Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
35. Visitors to Burj Khalifa can pay to visit one of two outdoor observation decks. At the Top, opened on January 5, 2010 on the 124th floor at 1,483 ft., making it the highest outdoor observation deck in the world when it opened. Adult admission ranges from 125 – 300 AED depending on the time of day and if the visit is booked in advance. Visits to At the Top Sky booked in advance cost 500 AED, or approximately $136 U.S. dollars.
36. Dubai has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with a growth rate of 6.1% in 2014, and a projected GNP of $107.1 billion U.S. dollars.
37. The Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the most dynamic, loved and respected leader in the UAE.
38. The Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum loves selfies, is a poet, has 5.3 million followers of twitter, launched Emirates Airlines, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, Driving, Media, Personal Branding & hates the word impossible
39. The heir to the Dubai throne, His Highness Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum is the most dynamic leader after the Dubai Ruler. Born on 14th November 1982, he is popularly known as Fazza.
40. Fazza attended the same college as the British Royals, is horse rider, semi-professional skydiver, athlete & social media star.
41. The Real Arab Muslim Locals of the Country are some of the best & finest human beings you will ever meet. They are kind, courteous and well mannered. The rest are just wanna be locals.
42. In certain parts of the UAE, if you have children outside wedlock, the male is jailed and deported while the woman is made to give birth to the child and then the child is taken away from the mother and put into a Muslim Orphanage and converted to Islam and then given to a Muslim Family.
43. The majority of the Firms in the UAE take the passport of the Employees so that they cannot leave the company or the country without the explicitly permission of the Owners – Even though this practice is globally illegal.
44. Many companies in the UAE do not pay salaries on time. It is not uncommon to hear about companies which haven’t paid salaries for employees working for them from 6 months to 2 years (In hotels and yes, I know some of these people personally)
45. You can get arrested for having tattoos, piercings & also if you are suspected of looking ‘satanic’ or ‘non-islamic’
46. Real estate and construction, trade and financial services are the largest contributors to UAE’s economy.
47. China is UAE’s largest international trading partner, followed by India, followed by the United States at $22.62 billion in 2014.
48. Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Based on air traffic, the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index reports Dubai as the fourth most popular destination city for tourism worldwide in 2015.
49. The Dubai International Airport (DXB) was the seventh busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic in 2014 with 70.4 million passengers.
50. Kissing in public in Dubai is strictly illegal and can result in deportation.
51. Only non-Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol, and only within licensed venues such as hotels or at home with the possession of an alcohol license. Typically, restuarants in Dubai outside of hotels are not permitted to sell alcohol. In Sharjah however, it is banned. However, in Umm Al Quwain, the rules are very relaxed.
52. Visitors to Dubai are prohibited from wearing wearing “indecent clothing” that reveals too much skin. The UAE has enforced anti-indecency prohibitions in all public places (aside from beaches, clubs, and bars.)
53. Dubai has no natural rivers; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through. Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city.
54. More than 3,000 taxis operate within Dubai making an average of daily 192,000 trips, carrying about 385,000 persons. All Dubai taxi services are licensed by the RTA, and are easily identifiable by their cream-colored bodies and varied roof colors. The Dubai Taxi Corporation has a Ladies Taxi service, with pink roofs, exclusively for female passengers, using female drivers.
55. Seven of the 10 world’s tallest hotels are located in Dubai. The third tallest but most iconic is the Burg Al Arab, a luxury hotel designed to mimic the sail of a ship. A British travel writer called it “The world’s only 7 star Hotel.” The Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 920 ft. from Jumeirah beach, connected to the city by a private curving bridge. It has a helipad near the roof at 689 ft. above ground.
56. In 2014, Dubai’s hotel rooms were rated as the second most expensive in the world, after Geneva, Switzerland, making it a good place to visit via a cruise ship.
57. More than a half a million cruise passengers dock at the luxurious Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid each year.
58. In addition to Port Rashid, Dubai has the biggest container port in the Middle East, Port Jebel Ali, located on the world’s largest man-made harbor.
59. In 2013, the Port of Jebel Ali was the world’s 9th busiest container port.
60. With more than 70 shopping centers, Dubai has been called the “shopping capital of the Middle East.”
61. Home to 1,200 shops, the Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping center based on total area.
62. Dubai is home to the Gold Souk that houses more than 300 retail shops dedicated to gold. It is estimated that the souk contains 10 tons of gold at any given time. In 2013, 40 percent of the world’s physical gold trade occurred in Dubai.
63. The world’s largest flower garden opened in Dubai on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The Dubai Miracle Garden has 45 million flowers grown with drip irrigation.
64. Muslims in Dubai are called to prayer five times a day from the minarets of mosques. Since 2006, the Dubai and UAE weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday’s holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.
65. While the sale and consumption of pork is legal in UAE for non-Muslims, it is available only in designated areas of supermarkets and airports.
66. Football and cricket are the most popular sports in the UAE. The other sports can be as odd as Bullfighting to Jujitsu
67. The Abu Dhabi & Dubai police fleet includes a Lamborghini’s, a Ferrari’s, Bugati’s and a Bentley’s.
68. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the world’s first Ferrari-themed park and the world’s largest indoor theme park.
69. Ferrari owns the largest indoor theme park in Abu Dhabi. Their rollercoaster, the Rosso, is the World’s fastest, reaching 150mph in 5 seconds.
70. Even though Dubai is in the middle of a desert, you can snow ski indoors at the Mall of the Emirates.
71. Over 12 million tourists visit the UAE per year; tourism now accounts for over 10% of the nation’s GDP.
72. Masdar City, Abu Dhabi is the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city.
73. The UAE resident population consists of 200 nationalities and while Arabic is the official language, other commonly spoken languages include English, Farsi, Hindi, Urdu.
74. More than 750 US firms have a presence in the UAE, from Bechtel and ExxonMobil to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery.
75. The UAE is the largest customer for Boeing commercial passenger aircraft. Customers include Emirates Airlines, which is the world’s largest operator of 777 aircraft and the only airline to operate every Boeing model type; Etihad Airways (purchasing 45 Boeing 777 and 787 passenger jets valued at $9.4 billion); Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (100 airplanes valued at $10.9 billion); FlyDubai (54 airplanes at a catalog price of $4.2 billion); and RAK Airlines (four airplanes).
76. The UAE has funded disaster relief efforts across the globe: for Tsunami Relief ($100 million); Pakistani Earthquake Relief ($100 million); and Hurricane Katrina Relief ($100 million).
77. There are more than 50 weekly nonstop flights to the UAE from 6 different US cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC).
78. The Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi hosts the Formula One Grand Prix.
79. In 2009, the UAE became the first country in the Middle East to host the FIFA Club World Cup tournament.
80. In 2004, Sheikha Lubna Al Quasimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade, was appointed as the UAE’s first woman minister.
81. Sir Bani Yas, a natural island located off the coast of the UAE’s Western Region, was originally home to Arabia’s largest wildlife reserve and boasts the archeological find of the oldest pre-Islamic Christian site in the UAE.
82. Different parts of the UAE have a different set of rules for people – even for the same crime.
83. Prior to the 1930s, pearling was Abu Dhabi’s most important industry and primary source of income.
84. In 1998, Sharjah was named the “Cultural Capital of the Arab World” by UNESCO.
85. Sharjah was named the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014 by the Organization of Islamic Countries.
86. Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and has 22,500 square meters covered with real snow for skiing.
87. The UAE hosts leading international film festivals, including the annual Dubai International Film Festival (link is external) and Abu Dhabi Film Festival (link is external).
88. When the Founding Father of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid, was asked about the future of Dubai, he said: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel”
89. A British man was sentenced to four years in jail in Dubai after cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar was found embedded in the tread of his shoe. He was later pardoned.
90. UAE has been going under a serious recession – however, in the media – nothing about this is mentioned. Thousands of people absond and run away from the UAE, Fraud is rampant and a lot of illegal activities take place where the criminals manage to run away before they are caught. The problem is – the people who suffer in the end – are expats.
91. Banks cheat people / expats by charging them with hidden charges
92. Hospitals can over-charge you and perform procedures while charging you 10,000 times your capacity to pay.
93. The majority of the hospitals in the UAE are profit making centers
94. Illegal medicines are sold over the counter in many pharmacies illegally.
95. There are a different set of rules for local and expats – even in corporate companies.
96. Government run companies have a different HR for locals and different HR for expats
97. The majority of the things purchased in the UAE is on credit cards & loans
98. You can get terminated or punished from your job at the mercy of the employer
99. Your salary scale is all dependent on your Passport & Skin color. Western Expats get paid more than Asian Expats for the same job. However, Arab Local Muslims gets paid the highest FOR THE SAME JOB.
100. All jobs advertised ask for your religion, sex, photograph, nationality.
101. Racist advertisements are very common “Wanted European / American Educated or This position is only for American / Western / UAE national”
102. In some parts of the UAE, if you have an accident with an Arab Muslim Local, when the police is called, just the very fact of the man being an Arab Muslim Local or even for taking the name of ‘Allah’ and chanting Arab Islamic Versus – makes the Arab Man innocent – while you being an Expat & Non-Muslim – Guilty EVEN IF you are innocent. (I know a few friends who experienced this)
103. You can open a business in minutes, make money within weeks, and lose money easily in UAE – all maybe within 2 years.
104. You can be fined in the UAE without knowing what your road crime is
105. There are ATMs in Dubai that dispense gold bars.
106. After the global financial crisis in 2008, many exotic cars were abandoned all over Dubai and its airport. Most of these cars were bought with easy credit during the boom and the owners were unable to meet car payments after job cutbacks due to financial recession.
107. People living over the 80th floor of Dubai’s tallest building in the world have to wait 2 extra minutes before breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan because they will be able to see the sun longer than those on the ground.
108. The Persian Gulf used to be known as the Pirate Coast. Until 1853, tribes would raid trade ships from India. Nowadays, the same families that ruled those tribes now rule the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, some of the richest countries in the world because of their petroleum.
109. The iconic Chrysler Building in Manhattan is owned almost entirely by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
110. One of Dubai’s more famous creations, The World Islands, are sinking back into the ocean.
111. 25% of the world’s operational cranes are located in the UAE
112. According to human rights organizations, the government of the United Arab Emirates violates a number of fundamental human rights.
113. Flogging and stoning are legal forms of judicial punishment in the UAE due to Sharia courts.
114. The government restricts freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the local media
115. Despite being elected to the UN Council, the UAE has not signed most international human-rights and labor-rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the Convention against Torture.
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