The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular travel destination. After all, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi - the pearl mosque that looks like a real-life Aladdin Palace, and Burj Khalifa - the tallest tower in the world, are among the most Instagrammable places across the world.
Moreover, the UAE is one of the most important countries in the Middle East. Interestingly, since oil exports began in 1962, the country has become one of the most liberal places in the Gulf.
We should mention that there are seven emirates in the United Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain. Dubai, in particular, is a popular destination. The Kardashians, Jason Deluro, Tom Cruise, Giorgio Armani - celebs simply love this cosmopolitan and exotic place.
Yet, there are numerous things about the UAE that we can’t ignore. From air pollution to severe discrimination, here are 20 things about the United Emirates that will make tourists think carefully about traveling there.
20 The United Arab Emirates - An Oil-Producing Leader
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not only a popular travel destination but a powerful oil producer. In fact, according to Investopedia, the UAE produces more than three million barrels per day. Given its high oil production, it's no surprise there are numerous international companies involved, leaving markets and local businesses volatile.
19 A Green Leader Across The Globe Or Just A Polluting Country?
Even though the UAE aspires to be a global green leader, the truth is that there are numerous environmental problems caused by its rapid population growth and energy and water demand. While Dubai is trying to optimize energy its efficiency and green economy, as reported by Trade Arabia, gigantic vehicles, cranes, and yachts only add to the country’s carbon footprint.
18 Drowned In Rain
It’s not a secret that the weather in the UAE can be uncomfortably hot. As a result, Dubai and other major travel hubs are often ill-prepared for heavy rainfall. After the heavy rainfall this year, Dubai was drowned in rain. As we can see from the picture above, many roads lack drains, which can endanger drivers.
17 The Pollution In The UAE Is Increasing
There’s no doubt that the UAE is a beautiful place with exotic architecture and surreal scenery. Dubai, in particular, is one of the most luxurious places in the world. Yet, due to the exploration of the UAE's natural resources and its rapid population growth, the country is facing numerous environmental challenges. All this litter is not so appealing, right?
16 Dubai: The Most Luxurious City In The World
Dubai is a unique place where one can take a selfie with huge cars, tall buildings, expansive clothes, and famous models. Interestingly, according to The Travel, some of the most expensive cars one can see in Dubai are Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Lexus, BMW, and Ferrari. No surprise that with so many cars Dubai's carbon footprint is getting problematic.
15 Dust Storm Warnings Are Common
Even if you associate Dubai with white beaches, exotic dunes, and warm weather, the truth is that the United Emirates is a vulnerable target of desert sands and high winds. According to AccuWeather, such severe weather conditions cause dust and sandstorms, which can have a negative impact on traffic, health, and logistics.
14 The UAE's Wildlife Is Fighting For Survival
The UAE's diverse wildlife is surprising; sharks, sand cats, camels, and so much more. Yet, according to the The Travel, some species are fighting for survival due to the country's high levels of pollution, overfishing, and rapid development. And as we can see from the picture above, having an exotic pet is trendy… but outrageous.
13 Water Shortages In The UAE
Water scarcity is common in the Middle East, as reported by The Water Project. This can impact the standard of living for both locals and tourists. The UAE, in particular, is struggling the most, with the highest per capita consumption of water. As a result, desalination plants that consume money and power are on the rise.
12 The Negative Effects Of Tourism
Fashionable clothes, yachts, cars, and celebs - Dubai is a synonym of "sleek." This city is not only a magnet for tourists but foreign workers and international companies. As per Statista, more than 15.93 million overnight tourists visited Dubai in 2018. As a result, there’s a huge demand for energy, water, and numerous artificial and polluting projects, such as underwater hotels and indoor skiing.
11 Farming Is Limited
When you think of the UAE, farming is the last thing that comes to your mind, right? Due to its salty soil, lack of water, and high temperatures, farming in the United Emirates is a challenge. Unfortunately, as stated by CS Monitor, the UAE imports 90% of its food needs.
10 Air Pollution In The UAE
Hummer-style cars, cranes, and traffic - air pollution is not new to the UAE. As stated by Fanack, the UAE was named "the country with the world’s worst air" in 2015 and its air quality was considered as "a primary environmental threat to public health." On top of that, the general population and many tourists lack environmental culture, which worsens the problem.
9 The Dark Side Of Dubai
Not far from all the luxurious cars and grandeur hotels one can witness the dark side of Dubai. Thousands of migrant construction workers from Asia and Africa are forced to live in inhumane conditions for a monthly salary of what a single meal costs at some of Dubai's famous restaurants. According to The Independent, Dubai is built upon slave labor.
8 "Speaking Truth To Power"
While Dubai is appealing to rich locals, young travelers, and ex-pats who do not want to pay tax, foreign workers live in poor conditions, doing long shifts in boiling temperatures. According to Ozy, thousands of workers from Africa are being explored in the Persian Gulf States. Many try to harm themselves in order to stop the abuse.
7 Discrimination Is A Fact
Although Dubai is a diverse place, with more than three-quarters of the people living there being from different countries, the truth is that labor abuse persists across the UAE. Many female domestic workers, mainly from Southeast Asia, are excluded from the country's official labor regulations and face extreme abuse.
6 Women's Rights In The UAE
Although the Emirati women have certain rights, such as access to education and work, many women are still restricted. According to HRW, women there must receive permission from a male guardian to marry or divorce, while a man can divorce his wife unilaterally. Women must obey their men and domestic violence is still permitted.
5 No Justice
The UAE has also launched an assault on freedom of expression. People who criticize the government are often detained in inhumane conditions. According to HRW, the UAE uses force and psychological pressure during arrests. To provide an example, many Yemeni activists reported being harassed and tortured in secret prisons.
4 LGBT Rights In The UAE
Although Dubai is often seen as the Vegas of the Middle East, Dubai is not such a liberal place. According to Nomadic Boys, homosexuality is illegal across the UAE and can be punished by death. Homosexuality is a huge taboo, so travelers must be careful with showing affection in public.
3 Water Quality In The UAE Is Declining
Water pollution is another major problem in the UAE. According to Fanack, in 2018, more than 4,700 kilograms of litter and fishing nets and 1,300 kilograms of waste were collected from Abu Dhabi’s waters by volunteers. Preventing marine pollution is essential to guarantee human health, thriving marine ecosystems, and sustainable energy.
2 Tourism And Liquor Laws In Dubai
Even though there’s so much to do in the UAE, especially in Dubai, we should remember that Islam is the major religion in the country and modesty is a must. In fact, although Dubai has loosened its liquor laws for tourists, tourists are advised to drink only in licensed places and in moderation to avoid arrest.
1 Rising Seas Could Cause Abu Dhabi To Disappear
With its luxurious lifestyle and exotic scenery, there’s no doubt the UAE is a beautiful destination. Yet, its magical artificial islands and coastal cities may disappear. Due to the climate changes happening right now, Abu Dhabi can disappear by 2100. Experts told The National, "For coastal zones in the UAE - home to approximately 85% of the population, over 90% of the infrastructure, many sensitive ecological subsystems, and important cultural heritage sites - the vulnerability to climate change is very high."