Before the oil was discovered, the then small population
devoted itself to fishing, pearl fishing and trade, and to
some extent to agriculture and piracy. Oil was found in 1958
and has been exported since 1962. The known reserves are
estimated to amount to 8 percent of the world's known oil
resources and 4 percent of the world's gas resources.
Oil revenues have financed expansion of other parts of
the business sector, and the country now has a
well-developed business sector with a large service sector,
industries and some agriculture.
COUNTRYAAH, only 0.5 percent of the land is cultivated land. Some
oasis and nomadic livestock farming have traditionally
dominated the country's agriculture. Date palms still occupy
the largest area, but greenhouse cultivation of vegetables
has increased significantly in recent years. During the
winter months, the United Arab Emirates is now
self-sufficient with vegetables, despite the rapid increase
in population. In total, however, about 70 percent of the
food requirement is imported. Agriculture is heavily
subsidized, and a number of modern facilities have been
built. The increased cultivation of vegetables has caused
problems with falling groundwater and has caused salting
damage. A number of farms have therefore had to be taken out
of operation, and in some emirates drilling of new wells has
The financial and service sectors have grown rapidly, and
the United Arab Emirates is one of the world's most
bank-tight areas. In particular, Dubai has invested heavily
in becoming a commercial and tourist center, including major
construction and infrastructure projects.
The integration between the various emirates is mainly
political, while economic cooperation is less developed.
Each emirate builds its own industry. However, the smaller
emirates are financially dependent on the larger ones. Abu
Dhabi is the most economically important emirate. It is also
important for cohesion within the United Arab Emirates.
Since oil exports began in the 1960s, the United Arab
Emirates has enjoyed a surplus in the trade balance. The war
in the region has resulted in the United Arab Emirates
having to take over the warring parties' oil quotas and the
country being able to increase its oil exports. Exports
mainly consist of oil and oil products, but non-oil-related
exports have increased. In oil-poor Dubai, 75 percent of
exports consist of products from areas other than the oil
industry. However, a large part of this export is transit
trade. Imports mainly comprise industrial products,
machinery, transport equipment, chemicals and foodstuffs.
The United Arab Emirates' main trading partners are China,
India and Iran.
The United Arab Emirates has long served as an
intermediate station for traffic between Europe and South
Asia and the Far East. It was not until the latter part of
the 1980s that a tourism policy was introduced that allowed
the extension of facilities for longer stays. Some of the
emirates have recently invested large sums on the tourism
industry. Investments that have increased the number of
visitors; In 1990, the country was visited by 300,000
tourists, in 1996 by 1.8 million and in 2007 by 6.5 million.
The main destination is Dubai. Since the late 1990s, the
emirate has become a major tourist destination with around
400 luxury hotels, many large shopping centers, golf
courses, one of the world's highest hotels and even indoor
ski resorts. In Dubai there are also bazaars with a varied
street life and an interesting fishing port with sailing and
motor boats in the older model. There are also older
buildings, including a palace converted into a museum.
To the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi still come
primarily businessmen. The city is modern and well-managed
and the wide avenues are shaded by artificial irrigated
alleys, but older buildings are almost completely lacking.
During the 00s, Abu Dhabi followed in Dubai's footsteps and
tried to attract tourists; inter alia has created a new
island with Formula 1 track and theme park.
In particular, in the mid-1970s, Sharja, but also other
emirate's central locations, were almost large fishing
villages with primitive Sheikh palaces, all in sun-dried
mud, but have now gained international character with new,
modern housing areas, palace-like villas for the ruling
family and modern bazaars. large hotel. Also of interest is
the very modern settlement of al-Ayn, an oasis town in the
desert on the border with Oman, as well as the scenic coast
to the east, towards Oman Bay, which is frequented today by
a large number of tourists.