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United Arab Emirates


To which language should you translate to localize in the U.A.E.?

What we know from our community

The UAE speaks Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic, known as “Fus’ha”, it is taught in schools and used in writing. However, the spoken dialect, Gulf Arabic, is different. For example, the pronoun yours is “K.” But Emiratis pronounce it “CH” (Your house: “Baytak” becomes “Baytach”). People in the Gulf also tend to pronounce J as Y and Q as G.
Moreover, the Emirati dialect has borrowed many words from other languages like Farsi, Hindi, and Urdu; this fusion often makes it impossible to understand for someone who speaks the standard Arabic or Levantine dialect (Lebanon, Syria, etc.). So, if you are a non-native speaker who spent years studying Arabic but can’t grasp a conversation in Emirati, don’t despair. It’s not you, and you’re not alone!



Official language
Arabic 50%

Other languages
Persian 5%, Hindi 30%, 15% others ( English, Malayalam, Urdu, Pashto, Tagalog)


T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

Low proficiency (EF) – 69 of 112 countries/regions in the world- 3/12 position in the Middle East.


Capital: Abu Dhabi
Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham
Population: 9,99 m
Population density141/km2


GDP: 358.87 billion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 36,284.6 USD ‎(2020) ‎
Exports: $216 billion (2020)


Internet users: 99% penetration, 9.94 million
Unemployment rate: 4.3% (2020)
Urbanisation: 86.52% (2018)
Literacy: 96% (2019)


Numbering system
Arabic numerals are not used.

Date format: dd-mm- yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 00971

Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal

Facts and data


$214 billion (2019).  Gold ($38.4B), Broadcasting Equipment ($20.4B), Refined Petroleum ($9.15B), Diamonds ($8.11B), and Cars ($6.63B), importing mostly from China ($41B), India ($18.1B), United States ($14B), Saudi Arabia ($9.21B), and Germany ($7.81B).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 87% have an account with a financial institution
• 45% have a credit card
• 21% have a mobile money account
• 60% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
Very easy to conduct business (rated 80.9 out of 100) 1st out of 16 Northern African and Middle Eastern countries, 16th worldwide out of 190 countries (2019, World Bank)

$216 billion (2019). Crude Petroleum ($42B), Gold ($28.8B), Refined Petroleum ($21.5B), Broadcasting Equipment ($14B), and Diamonds ($7.69B), exporting mostly to India ($22.1B), China ($19.2B), Saudi Arabia ($18B), Japan ($15.2B), and Iraq ($13.1B).

Economic freedom
‘Mostly free’ (rated 70.2 out of 100) ranked 1st out of 14 Middle Eastern countries ranked 33rd out of 186 countries worldwide (2022, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)

Global Innovation Index
Ranked 3rd out of 19 Northern African and
Western Asian countries, 33rd out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.

Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal

Service Imports (2018)

Source: OEC

Service Exports (2018)

Source: OEC

Most specialised products by RCA Index

Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between the U.A.E. observed and expected exports in each product

 Source: OEC

Most complex products by PCI Index

Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters

Source: OEC

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that the U.A.E. is not specialized in

Source: OEC

Time required to start a business in United Arab Emirates from 2009 to 2018

Source: InfoDev



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Media language Arabic

Information channels
The UAE is a regional and international centre for TV and media, alongside Egypt and Lebanon. Dubai Media City and twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media zone, were set up to attract industry players. The UAE is home to major pan-Arab broadcasters, including Saudi-owned MBC and OSN. Sky News Arabia operates from Abu Dhabi. The presence of millions of expatriates adds variety to the media scene, which caters for Arab, English-speaking and South Asian audiences. Most domestic UAE media outlets are run by state-owned Abu Dhabi Media and Dubai Media Incorporated.

Self – Censorship

The constitution provides for freedom of speech but there is strong regulatory and political control of media content. Publications must be licensed and follow official guidelines on reporting. Foreign publications are censored before distribution. Journalists tend to practise self-censorship. Extensive, automated filtering is in place at ISP level. Targeted content includes opposition politics and religion. Legislation bans the dissemination of online material that can threaten “public order” and envisages prison terms for those who “deride or damage” the reputation of the state and “display contempt” for religion.

The press

Al-Bayan – Arabic daily, Dubai government-owned
Gulf News – Dubai-based, English-language
Khaleej Times – private, Dubai-based daily, English-language
Emirates 24/7 – English-language online publication
The National – Abu Dhabi-based English-language daily


Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) – Dubai government-owned pan-Arab broadcaster, operates Dubai TV, Dubai One
Abu Dhabi TV – pan-Arab broadcaster
Ajman TV
Sharjah TV
MBC – Dubai-based pan-Arab broadcaster
OSN – Dubai-based pan-Arab multichannel platform
Al-Arabiya – pan-Arab news channel operated by MBC, English-language web pages
Sky News Arabia – Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab network


Abu Dhabi Media Company – operates Abu Dhabi FM and other networks
Radio Asia – commercial, broadcasts in Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam
Al-Arabiya FM – commercial, Arabic pop
Dubai 92 – commercial, English-language pop
City 1016 – commercial, programmes in English and Urdu

News agency

Emirates News Agency (WAM)official

Media data source: BBC

Internet Data

Internet users
99% penetration, 9.84 million

Share of web traffic by device
60.5% mobile phones, 37.5% computers (laptops and desktops), 1.9% tablet devices, others 0.10%

Average speed of mobile Internet connection
177.52 Mbps

Average speed of fixed Internet connection
130.99 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 171.6%

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 91%

Most popular web search engines
Google (96.29%), Bing (2.56%), Yahoo (0.69%), Duckduckgo (0.18%), Petal Search (012%) Yandex Ru (0.06%)

Most used social media
Twitter(9.62%), Facebook (74.66%), Pinterest (5.5%), YouTube (4.81%),  Instagram (3.92%), Linkedin (0.49%),

Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter

Social statistics

Life expectancy
77.65 yrs (2017)

Healthcare expenditure
3.5% of GDP

86.52% (2018)


Women’s rights in the UAE. are often contradictory. It is ranked first for gender equality in the Gulf and 49th worldwide. Despite this the UAE are still a muslim country, thus women are completely dependent from their “legal guardian” in some cases. For example a guardian can legally withhold a woman’s passport and prevent her from traveling.

When it comes to marriages men can unilaterally divorce women. Men are also in advantageous position in the custody of the children.

Female genital mutilation is a banned practice in all state hospitals and clinics, but it is still practiced in rural areas of the country.

Average age of the population
20.4 yrs (2020) 


Cultural Curiosities

The first name is the personal name followed by “ibn” which means son of and the name of the father, then followed again by “ibn” meaning the name of the father of his father. This is then followed by the family name. The same applies to women but with the word “bint”, which means daughter of. 

Showing the sole of your shoes, pointing your feet towards others, or even touching someone else with your feet is considered extremely rude. 

As in many muslim countries, the left hand is considered unclean and should not be used for offering food.

Strictly speaking, you are not allowed to share private space, e.g. a flat, hotel room, or even a car, together with a person of the opposite sex to whom you are not married or otherwise closely related. While this rule is not necessarily rigorously enforced for non-Muslims — e.g. some hotels allow shared rooms for unmarried couples — it is important that you are aware of the potential for offense. Avoid any displays of affection in public, from kissing to holding hands — the latter is tolerated among married couples, and common between men, though.

Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF

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Languages research

Languages spoken in the U.A.E.

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Photo credit: Darcey Beau, Unsplash