Official name: United Arab Emirates
Area: 82,880 square kilometers (32,000 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Yibir (1,527 meters/5,010 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 4 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 544 kilometers (338 miles) from northeast to southwest; 361 kilometers (224 miles) from southeast to northwest
Land boundaries: 867 kilometers (539 miles) total boundary length; Oman 410 kilometers (255 miles); Saudi Arabia 457 kilometers (284 miles)
Coastline: 1,318 kilometers (819 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
The United Arab Emirates is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Persian Gulf. Seven emirates (states) make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE): Abu Dhabi, Dubayy, Ash Shāriqah, Ra's al Khaymah, Al Fujayrah, Umm al Qaywayn, and 'Ajmān. With an area of 82,880 square kilometers (32,000 square miles), the UAE is nearly as large as the state of Maine.
The United Arab Emirates has no territories or dependencies.
The climate is arid and subtropical. The months between May and October are extremely hot, with shade temperatures of between 39° and 49°C (100° and 120°F). Humidity on the coast can exceed 85 percent. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 2°C (36° F) but average between 17°C and 20°C (63°F and 68°F). It is cooler in the eastern mountains. Normal annual rainfall is from 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches), with considerably more in certain regions; the mountains receive an average of 14 to 20 centimeters (5 to 8 inches) and the eastern coast receives an average of 10 to 14 centimeters (4 to 5 inches). The wettest months are February and March. Prevailing winds, including the cool Shamal from the northeast and the Khamsin from the south, produce sandstorms. Influenced by monsoons, they vary by season and location.
Abu Dhabi, extending along the Persian Gulf coast and into the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, occupies about four-fifths of the UAE's territory. The remaining six emirates are clustered together on the Musandam Peninsula to the northeast. The UAE is mostly a flat, sandy desert except for the easternmost region, where the northern tip of the Al Hajar Mountains stretches into the country from Oman to the east.
The northern, and longest, part of the UAE's coastline borders the Persian Gulf, with a short section to the east bordering the Gulf of Oman.
There are coral reefs in the shallow waters off the UAE's eastern coast on the Gulf of Oman. Shoals lie off the UAE's Persian Gulf coast, which has no natural deepwater harbors, unlike the Gulf of Oman coast, which has several.
The UAE is situated at a strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is a vital transit point for global crude oil shipments.
The UAE includes more than one hundred islands, most of them owned by Abu Dhabi. The country's capital, the city of Abu Dhabi, is located on an island of the same name. Other islands, including the island of Dās, are used for oil and gas operations related to offshore drilling.
Six of the emirates have coasts on the Persian Gulf, while the seventh, Al Fujayrah, lies along the Gulf of Oman to the east. The Persian Gulf coast has numerous islands as well as lagoons and other indentations, and the shore is sandy with many salt flats (called sebkhas ). The alluvial flats bordering the Gulf of Oman on the eastern coast are an extension of the fertile coastal strip that runs between the mountains and the sea in Oman, known as the Al Batinah coast.
There are no lakes in the UAE.
There are no perennial rivers in the UAE; however, there are small areas of wetlands.
More than two-thirds of the UAE's total area is a sandy and largely uninhabited desert, running from the westernmost tip of Abu Dhabi east to the land border with Oman and north to the Musandam Peninsula. Sand dunes in the southeast can reach heights of 100 meters (330 feet). The two major oases are the al-Liwa' Oasis in south-central Abu Dhabi and the Buraimi Oasis at Al 'Ayn, on the border with Oman.
Most of the UAE is very flat, including its coastal lowlands and desert interior.
The UAE's eastern region comprises barren, rugged mountains that are the northernmost extension of neighboring Oman's Al Hajar range. The highest peak in the country, Mount Yibir, which rises to 1,527 meters (5,010 feet), is located in this region.
There are many caves in the Al Hajar Mountains in the eastern part of the UAE.
Except for the mountainous area in the east, the UAE is a low-lying country with no significant plateaus.
All of the UAE's major ports are man-made, including Port Jabal 'Ali and Port Rashid, two of the largest artificial harbors in the Middle East. Irrigation canals support farming near the Buraimi Oasis at Al 'Ayn.
Crocetti, Gina L. Culture Shock! United Arab Emirates . Portland, OR.: Graphic Arts Center, 1996.
Johnson, Julia. United Arab Emirates . Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.
Kay, Shirley. Seafarers of the Gulf . Dubai: Motivate Pub., 1992.