Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the UAE
Nearly all of the water consumed in the UAE is desalinated sea water.
Water is scarce – the UAE has no permanent rivers and very little fresh groundwater. Researchers are exploring alternative technologies, including the use of renewable energy. At the same time, programs like Waterwise in Abu Dhabi are encouraging citizens to reduce water consumption.
The UAE, which was officially formed in 1971, is a federation of seven emirates.
The most well-known to tourists are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but there are five additional emirates: Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain. Abu Dhabi, the largest of the emirates, is the federal capital of the UAE.
Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque houses the world’s largest carpet.
The handwoven carpet adorns the mosque’s main prayer room. The rug, with its 2.2 billion hand-tied knots, covers over 60,000 square feet (5574 square meters). Some 1,200 artisans worked on the rug in pieces for over a year and a half, completing it in 2007.
Although the UAE is a major exporter of oil, it invests heavily in solar power.
In 2016, the Government of the UAE signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority recently announced that it has obtained $872 million in financing to build what will be the world’s largest solar power plant.
Located in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, Ski Dubai was the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.
Visitors can enjoy a ski slope, bobsled run, tobogganing hills, snow zip line, snow cavern, even penguins. The snow park is chilled to minus 4 C (24.8 F) and boasts fresh snow all year long. Five more indoor ski resorts have opened in the UAE.
More than 200 islands are found off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
The Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Baniyas Island is home to the Arabian oryx, a species of long-horned antelope that was declared extinct in the wild in the early 1970s. The UAE played a key role in the successful conservation efforts to reintroduce the oryx into the wild. In 2011, the status of Arabian oryx was upgraded to vulnerable.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Theme Park is the world’s largest indoor theme park, and its Formula Rossa rollercoaster is the world’s fastest.
Ferrari World opened in 2010. According to the World Travel Awards, in 2016 it was the Middle East’s leading tourist attraction. Riders of the Formula Rossa speed along at 149 miles (nearly 240 kilometers) per hour, and feel the same g-force as racecar drivers.
An eight-million-year-old crocodile skull was found in Abu Dhabi’s Al Gharbia desert.
Excavations have helped scientists learn more about the Arabian Peninsula during the Miocene Epoch, which spanned from about 5 to 23 million years ago. Monkeys, squirrels, horses, elephants, and hippos existed in what was then a savannah-like ecosystem.
Completed in 2009, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa stands over a half-mile high.
The building has over 160 stories, which rise to 828 meters (2,716 feet). Burj Khalifa is not only the world’s tallest building, it’s also the tallest free-standing structure and has the most stories, highest observation deck, highest occupied floor, and elevators with the longest distance to travel.
Lamborghinis and Ferraris are among the cars operated by the Dubai Police.
The city recently added high performance Italian cars to its fleet of green-and-white cruisers. Used more to promote the police’s image than for police business, they show up in tourist areas and at special events.