The UAE has a modern infrastructure that has made it a regional transportation center. According to government statistics, the UAE has 1,088 kilometers of roads (676 miles) as of 1998, all of which are paved. The Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway has been upgraded several times, and the links from Dubai to the northern emirates are in
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|United Arab Emirates||156||345||294||N/A||210||21.0||106.2||39.44||400|
|a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
good repair as well. Rashid and Jebel Ali in Dubai are the largest of the UAE's 15 ports; together they handled 2.84 billion 20-foot container equivalent units of cargo in 1999, among the largest volumes in the world. Dubai has also won port and free zone management contracts in Djibouti, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Beirut since 1998. Dubai's airport is the largest of the UAE's 40 airports and, following the completion of the Shaykh Rashid terminal in March 2000, is now widely considered a first-class international airport. A significant expansion of the Abu Dhabi airport is expected to be completed in 2005. There are no railroads in the UAE, nor is there any domestic air transportation network.
Average annual rainfall in the UAE is very low (generally 42 millimeters) and there are few fertile areas except in the north (where annual rainfall is 150 mm per year) and among the oases. The U.S. State Department expects the UAE demand for water to increase by 50 percent by 2015 and warns that the demand will soon outstrip supply. The UAE has addressed this problem through the development of underground wells—which have rapidly depleted the water table—and desalinization. Many underground wells have gone dry or were rendered unusable because of increased salinity from salt leaching into ground reservoirs. Today, 82 desalinization plants, many of which are also power plants, meet 75 percent of the UAE's total non-agricultural water needs. Due to the depletion of renewable resources through farming and excessive urbanization, there is no alternative to desalinization. Other options, such as importing water from Turkey via pipeline, are not considered viable because of security considerations.
The UAE's desalinization plants are key components of an electrical network that witnessed phenomenal growth in recent decades from 5.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 1980 to 19 billion kWh in 1998. Installed generating capability is 7,466 megawatts, with Abu Dhabi accounting for 45 percent of the total and Dubai 26 percent. Especially acute is the demand for gas; in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, demand doubled from 1996 to 2000. The UAE expects to spend $3.5 billion on new projects over the next 4 years to meet increased demand for electricity, which is expected to be 10 percent annually between 2000-2001. Among the most important of these projects is the $10 billion Dolphin Gas Project which aims to ship gas from Qatar's North Field to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, and Pakistan. A federation-wide electrical network is also being planned and will most likely be connected to the Omani electric grid. This would be the first step towards creating an electrical network throughout all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. In addition, the UAE federal government and the largest emirates have privatized most of the power system along with the water system.
Telecommunications services in the UAE are among the most advanced in the world. They are managed by Etisalat, which is 60 percent owned by the UAE government. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 915,223 main phone lines in use in the UAE and nearly 1 million mobile cellular phones. In 2000, the country had 1 Internet provider but there should be many more by 2005 as the UAE deregulates its telecommunications industry to comply with World Trade Organization guidelines. The management of Dubai Internet City has also confirmed that independent Internet service providers will be allowed to operate in Dubai.