• Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jordan!

    Jordan: Petra. Go Now!

    Tucked away in this Middle Eastern country, the famed city of Petra (pictured) links the past to the present culture. Explore Jordan!

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    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

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    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

History of the United Arab Emirates

The land of the present-day United Arab Emirates has a long history, but this history is divided between the land the coastal people occupied, and the isolation of the interior desert dwellers. For much of history, this region was controlled by Persia and remained so until the arrival of Islam in the 600s.

In the 1400s the Europeans arrived by sea and took power in much of the region. By the 1700s the British held most of this control, which was sought in order to gain control over the Persian Gulf's lucrative trade with Africa and India. The British forced peace treaties on the local tribes on the coast, but later in their rule the local sheikhs voluntarily agreed to British protection. However, during this time the British never ventured into the nearby desert interior and, other than protecting the waterways, there was no true economic motivation for the British to control the region.

The modern-day U.A.E.'s only real wealth came from pearl diving, but this industry dried up in the 1900s and the region returned to nomadic Bedouins living in poverty. In the early 20th century this changed again when oil was discovered and export of the good began in the 1960s. Abu Dhabi focused their economy of this good, while Dubai focused on being a trading center and port city as the rest of the Emirates fell into obscurity.

In 1971, Abu Dhabi's sheikh, Zayed worked with the other gulf coast emirates' sheikhs to create a united nation as the British discussed giving up control over the region. Most of the emirates along the coast joined (Bahrain and Qatar didn't) with Abu Dhabi acting as the country's capital. Since then, power has been primarily held in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, however all the emirates have benefited from this union.

Today the United Arab Emirates has quickly become one of the most progressive and modern countries in the world as oil money and tax-free trade through Dubai have made the country a meeting place for the entire Arabic speaking world as it also attracts workers and tourists from nearly every country in the world. Today the country's residents primarily consist of foreign non-citizens (over 80%), but the local population financially benefits from their work.

This page was last updated: March, 2013