Abu Dhabi is at the forefront of building one of the world's next great idea capitals. The city has developed a progressive agenda in health care, the arts, economic and environmental sustainability, educational and human development, and the advancement of women -- with impressive resources supporting the vital talent and infrastructure required to both achieve and leverage these advances. Together, this strategic location and forward-looking commitment create a dazzling array of opportunities for learning, research, and innovation.
The United Arab Emirates was established as a nation on December 2, 1971. When the British announced their intention to withdraw from the region, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the U.A.E., successfully negotiated agreements between the emirates that now make up the nation.
The United Arab Emirates has a federal government with seven regional subdivisions, called emirates. The head of the federal government is the president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Abu Dhabi is the name of both the capital city and the largest of the emirates. The seven emirates are: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi makes up approximately 87 percent of the country's total land mass. About 70 percent of the land is desert, but the emirate also has 700 kilometers of coastline and 200 islands.
The U.A.E.'s population is about 4.6 million people and it is one of the most ethnically diverse in the Middle East. About 19 percent of the population of the U.A.E. is Emirati; other Arab nationals make up 23 percent; and South Asians, make up 50 percent of the population. Other expatriates (including Westerners and East Asians) account for 8 percent of the population.
The official religion of the U.A.E. is Islam. Other religions are respected and can be practiced freely.
Education is highly valued in the U.A.E.. The vast majority of students in their final year of secondary school apply to university. Today, 90 percent of women and 80 percent of men apply for admission to a higher education institution. In the U.A.E. the school week, like the work week, is Sunday through Thursday.
The currency of the U.A.E. is the dirham. It is divided into 100 fils.