Anthropology: United Arab Emirates Politics, Economics, and Culture

Introductions: United Arab Emirates History

The founders of the UAE standing on December 2 in 1971. Representing independence day for UAE.

Ever since December 2, 1971, the United Arab Emirates has prospered in politics, economics and protected its cultural and physical anthropology. Initially, as the founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan stated, “he who does not have a past, will not have a present or a future”. Accordingly, we will start with the background history of the United Arab Emirates. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Arabian Gulf region thrived on trade, primarily through the ports of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. During those centuries, the Arabian Gulf was divided into tribal divisions. However, in the late 19th century, the British alliance with the region became known as the protected Trucial States. The reality was that the British, with the help of other westerners, effectively controlled the Arabian Gulf region until the independence of the separate states during the 20th century.

Physical Anthropology

A map of the UAE


U.A.E. Geography

As established previously, the United Arab Emirates is located in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula. The UAE shares a border with Oman and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, within the United Arab Emirates, there are seven states. This includes the capital Abu Dhabi. In addition, the most famous emirate, Dubai. Also, the five  Northern Emirates;  Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah. Moreover, the majority of the United Arab Emirates is a flat sandy desert. Additionally, in the eastern region, there are mountains. The highest point is in RAK, which is Jabal Al Jais.

More importantly, “strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil”. Furthermore, an important discovery in the Middle East was oil. For instance, in the United Arab Emirates, oil was first discovered in the 1950s. This was an important discovery as, in the 20th century, increasingly vehicles and machinery were running on the energy produced from oil, which attracted numerous foreign investors to the UAE.

U.A.E. Environmental Issues

Moreover, the United Arab Emirates government has signed on to many international agreements. The purpose is to combat environmental issues generated mainly by the energy and tourism industries. In addition, local and federal policies are working together to establish nature reserves and movements to decrease the use of plastic. The United Arab Emirates has continuously invested in sustainable development through environmental awareness campaigns and education in schools, universities, and public venues.

Firstly, this has contributed to climate change. As a result, these industries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi generate high levels of greenhouse gases and a high carbon footprint. Secondly, the biodiversity within the UAE is depleting. One of the reasons is overfishing. For example, the Federal government has introduced laws against dumping and pollution of the oceans. Thirdly, the United Arab Emirates is facing a limited water source, high waste generation, and significant air pollution issues. This is made worse by the fact that the region is constantly burdened with dust storms and scarce rainfall.

Cultural Anthropology

Traditions and modern reality of the UAE. Representing a blend of cultures.

U.A.E. People

So far, in 2021, the UAE population has been estimated to be 9,856,612, with 69% being male and 31% being female. First, the majority of the population is of ages between 25 and 54 with 68.03%. Second, of the population, 14.45% are under the age of 15. Third, the population of people ages 55 and above comes around 9.58%. Fourthly, of the population, 7.94% are between the ages of 15 and 24. Moreover, the majority of the population lives in the three major cities at around 85%. For instance, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah there are 6.17 million people.

Furthermore, the ex-pats are around 8.84 million people, making up 88.52% of the majority of the population. For instance, ex-pat ethnic groups consist of Indians, Pakistani, Philippines, and Egyptians. Therefore, Emirates nationals are only 1.15 million people, making up 11.48% of the minority of the population. Thus, the official language is Arabic. However, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog are all spoken. Besides, English is the primary language of education.  Furthermore, the central religious belief is Islam. However, there are Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians in the country.

Moreover, the United Arab Emirates has continuously improved to become a more developed society, which starts with the empowerment of the people. Firstly, the literacy rate is at 93.8% of the 2015 population. This includes, as of 2017, the average school education is around 14 years. Secondly, improvement of sanitation access and drinking water is above 98% as of 2017. Thirdly, in 2021, life expectancy is above 79 years due to the efficient health care system. Fourthly, there is a low unemployment rate in the country with less than 2% unemployed.

U.A.E. Social Values

Human behaviour evolves based on the social context and values of a culture. For example, the United Arab Emirates is a collective society at heart that blends traditions and modernization. For illustration, the UAE prides itself on being tolerant. This, side by side with peace, security, and multiculturalism, is advocated through the ministry of tolerance. Likewise, the UAE’s tolerance has invited over 200 nationalities to enjoy a decent life and respect. To illustrate, the laws of UAE are strict to ensure justice, respect, and equality for all races, nationalities, beliefs. Thus, the Emirate culture punishes prejudice, extremism, intolerance, and hatred.

Moreover,  keeping with tradition, emirates are accepted to show great hospitality. For illustration, people are socialized on how to be tolerant of globalized society through school education. Additionally, people in urban cities, like Dubai, grow up in a culturally diverse environment. This is where we are taught that everyone and everything deserves respect and kindness. Thus, the United Arab Emirates has become one of the world’s safest nations and a tourist hotspot.

Furthermore, the Emirati culture preserves its past through the value of family bonds as the core of the collective society. This is where their families of customs and norms socialize people. For example, to illustrate a ritual within the culture, emirates are obligated to stay at least a full day with their family weekly. Which in this collective society includes the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family. Moreover, the government maintains heritage through the promotion of cultural institutions. This includes many museums that showcase art among other Emirate cultural artefacts. In addition, to museums that cater to an international cultural community, like the Abu Dhabi Louvre.

Economic Anthropology

one of the largest ports in Dubai in the UAE.

U.A.E. Industry

The primary industry in the United Arab Emirates is the energy sector. This includes natural resources like natural gas and oil. To illustrate, during an emergency, frontline workers in the UAE are not only health workers and domestic security, but also our people in blue overalls, ensuring that the whole country is supplied with power. However, only 30% of the UAE economy is in this sector. This is because the UAE has been diversifying its range of resources that drive its economy.

For example, innovation to keep the agriculture and fishing industries thriving for sustainability. Some of the agricultural products include; dates, cucumbers, tomatoes, goat meat, eggs, milk, poultry, carrots, and goat milk. In addition, the UAE has multiple bottled water companies. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates’ government has been increasingly supporting the manufacturing sector. This includes the manufacturing of aluminium, cement, construction materials, handicrafts, and textiles.

Another primary industry in the United Arab Emirates is tourism. Many different kinds of tourism are attracted to, predominantly Dubai. For example, entrepreneurs come to the UAE for industrial tourism. At the same time, most tourists are seeking Dubai’s beaches and adventure activities. However, recently we have seen medical tourists come to the UAE. Their primary purpose of getting access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On the one hand, legislators, official managers, technicians, and associate professionals consist of more nationals. While the armed forces only have nationals. On the other hand, skilled agricultural, fishery, craft, trades, plant/machine operators/ assemblers,  and elementary occupations workers consist mostly of ex-pats.

U.A.E. Trade

The UAE government has allocated free trade zones all over the country. This makes the UAE an essential part of the global economic market. On the one hand, the United Arab Emirates’ exports equate over 300 billion dollars. The majority of UAE exports are to India, Japan and Saudi Arabia with a total of 28%. Further, Switzerland, China, Iraq with a total of 18% of UAE exports. The UAE exports crude and refined petroleum; jewellery, especially gold; and broadcasting equipment. On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates’ imports equate to over 200 billion dollars. The majority of UAE imports is from China with 15%. Further, India with a total of 12% of UAE imports. The least of UAE imports is from the United States with 7%. The UAE imports the same things as it exports with the addition of the importation of diamonds.

Political Anthropology

The UAE aid for covid 19 global rescues.

U.A.E. International Relations

The United Arab Emirates is a nation of peace and diplomacy. Therefore, the United Arab Emirates is part of multiple international and regional organizations. For instance, it joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1967. Additionally, it joined the International Monetary Fund in 1972. In addition, it formed the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981 with the Arabian Gulf states. Also, in 1991, it joined the United Nations and Arab League. As a result, in 2019, the UAE passport is the strongest in the world. Accordingly, the holders of the UAE passport enjoyed a mobility score of 179.

Moreover, the United Arab Emirates continuously works with the international community in efforts to combat terrorism. This has led the United Arab Emirates to follow the United States of America in their military intervention in Afghanistan and against ISIS. Furthermore, UAE has remained a stabilizing force in the international community by helping nations around the Middle East. This includes Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq.

U.A.E. Foreign Aid

One of the most generous foreign aid donors is the United Arab Emirates, with a total of 4,717,184,385.06 dollars in 2017. “The purpose of UAE aid is to increase international peace and stability through the eradication of poverty, while guaranteeing improvements in the living standards of individuals regardless of their religion, language, identity and race. Aid is continually provided to ensure the establishment of effective partnerships”. Thus, the main focus of the foreign aid distribution of the United Arab Emirates is humanitarian aid. To illustrate, “humanitarian aid reached to 18 percent of the UAE’s overall foreign aid in 2018”.  Accordingly, this aid is distributed through organizations like the Emirates Airline Foundation, Sharjah Charity House, Emirates Red Crescent, and Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.

For example, according to the United Arab Emirates Ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, the UAE has given Yemen 2.78 billion USD from April 2015 to February 2018. This includes assistance in education, social services, transportation and storage, energy generation and supply, commodities, health, and government and civil society. 73% of the aid is development, 26.9% of the aid is humanitarian, and only 0.1% of aid is charity. Correspondingly, the UAE has also given vital foreign aid to Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Syria. It has been shown that UAE foreign aid has been an advantage in a diverse selection of sectors for these recipient countries.

Conclusion: Significance in Anthropology

showing human transformation with the transformation of dubai.

I am Shoag Ahmad Shams, and I grew up in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. However, my passport is from Dubai, making me from Dubai. Therefore, I have a perspective on a city whose main income comes from the energy sector. At the same time, I currently live in a globalized city that depends on diverse economic sectors, from tourism to manufacturing.  Accordingly, economic anthropology is the study of “processes of production, circulation and consumption of different sorts of objects in social settings”.  For example, the United Arab Emirates’ use of resources and trade relations.

Moreover, cultural anthropology, the study of how “people who share a common cultural system organize and shape the physical and social world around them, and are in turn shaped by those ideas, behaviours, and physical environments”.   Thus, the purpose of this paper is to show that the United Arab Emirates is a socially responsible nation. This means the UAE has protected its heritage while adapting to the globalized world order. In addition, the United Arab Emirates is one of the most tolerant nations in the world. For instance, the UAE values tolerance, which shapes Emirati culture and its interactions with ex-pat communities.

More importantly, the UAE has always been generous in supplying aid and combating international issues like environmental concerns and terrorism. On the other hand, physical anthropology ” deals with the evolution of humans, their variability, and adaptations to environmental stresses”. For instance, the UAE is combating environmental issues with sustainable development. On the other hand, political anthropology is “the analysis of power, leadership, and influence in all their social, cultural, symbolic, ritual, and policy dimensions”. For instance, the United Arab Emirates’ presence in international relations, incredibly successful foreign aid from the UAE.

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