The Country


United Arab Emirates occupies a total area of about 83,600 square kilometers (32,400 square miles), along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula between 22°50 and 26°N and between 51° and 56°25 E. Qatar lies to the west and north-west, Saudi Arabia to the west and south and Oman to the north, east and south-east.


Physical Features

Despite the fact that four-fifths of its land area is arid desert, the UAE is a country of contrasting landscapes. The UAE has 734 Km of coastline, 644 Km along the Arabian Gulf and 90 Km bordering the Gulf of Oman. Along the Arabian Gulf coast are offshore islands, coral reefs and salt marshes, whilst stretches of gravel plain and barren desert characterize the inland region.

The western interior of the federation, most of which is Abu Dhabi territory, consists mainly of desert interspersed with oases. One of the largest oases is Liwa, beyond which is the vast Rub al-Khali desert, or Empty Quarter, which stretches beyond the UAE’s southern border.

To the east lie the Hajar Mountains chain which reach north into the Musandam peninsula at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf. The rocky slopes rise to 1300 meters within UAE territory, falling steeply to the UAE’s East Coast on the Gulf of Oman where a fertile alluvial gravel plain separates the precipitous mountains from the ocean. To the north-east, a fertile gravel plain also separates the mountains from the coast around Ras al-Khaimah.


The UAE lies in the arid tropical zone extending across Asia and North Africa. Climatic conditions in the area are strongly influenced by the Indian Ocean, since the country borders both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. This explains why high temperatures in summer are always accompanied by high humidity along the coast. There are noticeable variations in climate between the coastal regions, the deserts of the interior, and mountainous areas.

From November to March daytime temperatures average a very pleasant 24° C (75° F). Night-time temperatures are slightly cooler, averaging 13° C (56° F) and less than 5° C (40° F) in the depths of the desert or high in the mountains. Summer temperatures are high, and can be as high as 48° C (118° F) inland, but it is lower by few degrees in coastal. Humidity in coastal areas averages between 50 and 60 per cent, touching over 90 per cent in summer and autumn. Inland it is far less humid.

Local north-westerly winds (shamal) frequently develop during the winter, bringing cooler windy conditions. Prevailing winds, which are influenced by the monsoons, vary between south or south-east, to west or north to north-west, depending upon the season and location.

Average rainfall is low at less than 6.5 centimeters annually, more than half of which falls in December and January.

Water temperatures in the Gulf exceed 33°C in summer, falling in winter to 16°C in the north and 22–24°C in the south.

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