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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of 7 emirates, or states, on the eastern shore of the Arabian Peninsula, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, in southeast Asia. Though a desert, Islamic nation, the UAE is western in many ways, owing to its vast oil reserves and booming finance sector. Since oil exportation began in 1962, the country has been on a fast track to economic success, and now has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
Stretching more than 650km along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, you are never far from the coast. Most of the UAE is desert, with plains, dunes, and mountains scattered throughout. Oases are basically the only places with substantial life. The desert sands are known to kick up violent dust storms that can cover the entire landscape in a haze. Average annual rainfall is less than 5 inches, with up to 14 inches accumulating in the mountains.
The largest and most world-renowned city in the UAE is Dubai, in itself is a monument to excess, the Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world, it stands a whopping 2,722 feet. Designed by Chicago architects, and contracted by Korean Samsung, the total cost of the building topped out at 1.5 billion USD. Office space in the tower goes for as much as $4,000 per square foot.
The UAE economy is built on the oil industry, but has since expanded to include tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. They have some of the largest shopping malls in the world, including one that has a functional ski slope with real snow, in the middle of the desert.
Visiting or moving to the UAE you will find rather strict Islamic law, though comparatively not as bad as some other Islamic nations. It is advisable to not publicly criticize Islam or distribute material against it. Eating in public during Ramadan is prohibited from sunrise to sunset. Unfortunately, homosexuality is illegal, and public displays of affection of any kind are frowned upon. That being said, the UAE is great place to work and live, as the standard of living is high, and the cost of living reflects that.