In the 600s and 700s Islam arrived to the region and the people accepted this religion.
It didn't alter their diets or even their architecture (as a primarily nomadic
people there was little), but their lifestyles changed to meet the restrictions
and rules of the new religion. Since this time the people have had greater outside
contacts as new foods were introduced and their language became more uniform with
the rest of the Arab world.
From a visual perspective, in the villages little has changed in the U.A.E. as the
people continue to dress in their "National Dress," their homes remain
traditional, and their foods are heavily influenced by the Lebanese cuisine, which
arrived shortly after Islam. In fact, many locals share this culture in the cities,
but the lifestyle is vastly different as business drives most schedules and life
seems more complex. However both in the villages and in the cities the culture is
changing, and at a very rapid pace.
With the discovery of oil in the U.A.E. in the 1900s the country became a rich and
highly influential country. As the government controlled these resources and the
income derived from it, they modernized their country quickly by building modern
buildings, roads, transportation hubs, and introducing computers, televisions, and
other technology. Today, the people have accepted these items while retaining traditional
aspects of their culture, most notably in the form of dress and religion. Despite
this, most locals own cars, have high-paying jobs, and have access to, and the resources
to afford, the world's best technology.
Much of the U.A.E.'s economic success comes from free trade, oil, and foreign
workers. As foreign workers arrive, the locals receive the higher paying jobs and
if there is a smaller demand for jobs, the government simply lets fewer immigrant
workers into the country to guarantee the locals have jobs. This essentially makes
the local population the upper class in a multi-classed society.
Due to the growing number of jobs, the foreigners have changed the culture to a
substantial degree. These people, from every part of the world, have brought with
them new dress, foods, religions, and a new way of life. Despite clinging to their
traditional roots, the local Emirati people, at least in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have
grown accustomed to Italian, Indian, and American food as they have grown extremely
tolerant of religious, ethnic, and cultural differences. With this comes constant
pressure as the local people (most particularly the sheiks) feel obligated to cater
to the foreign population, who is running their economy in some ways. This has led
to a difficult balance of maintaining the traditional, while integrating the foreign.
This has also led to a growing pride in being Emirati by some as traditional dress,
clothing, language, and lifestyle are points of emphasis and pride by the locals.