Geography of the United Arab Emirates

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Geography of United Arab Emirates
Satellite image of United Arab Emirates in October.jpg
Continent Asia
Region Middle East
Coordinates 24°N54°E / 24°N 54°E / 24; 54
Area Ranked 114th
  Total83,600 km2 (32,300 sq mi)
Coastline1,318 km (819 mi)
Borderstotal: 867 km (539 mi)
Highest point Jebel Al Mebrah
1,727 m (5,666 ft) [1] [2]
Lowest point Persian Gulf
0 m
Longest riverNone
Largest lake Lake Zakher
Climatearid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrainmountainous and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel
Natural Resourcespetroleum, natural gas, marine resources
Natural Hazardshaze, dust storms, sandstorms common
Environmental Issueslimited natural freshwater resources are increasing dependence on large-scale desalination facilities
Exclusive economic zone58,218 km2 (22,478 sq mi)

The United Arab Emirates is situated in the Middle East and southwest Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia; it is at a strategic location along the northern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil. The UAE lies between 22°50′ and 26° north latitude and between 51° and 56°25′ east longitude. It shares a 19 km (12 mi) border with Qatar on the northwest, a 530 km (330 mi) border with Saudi Arabia on the west, south, and southeast, and a 450 km (280 mi) border with Oman on the southeast and northeast.


The land border with Qatar in the Khawr al Udayd area is a source of ongoing dispute (in fact, whether it even shares a land border with Qatar is in dispute). The total area of the UAE is approximately 83,600 square kilometres (32,300 square miles). The country's exact size is unknown because of disputed claims to several islands in the Persian Gulf, because of the lack of precise information on the size of many of these islands, and because most of its land boundaries, especially with Saudi Arabia, remain undemarcated. The largest emirate, Abu Dhabi, accounts for 87 percent of the UAE's total area (72,732 km2 (28,082 sq mi)). The smallest emirate, Ajman, encompasses only 259 km2 (100 sq mi).


Topography of the UAE United Arab Emirates Topography.png
Topography of the UAE

The UAE stretches for more than 650 km (400 mi) along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. Most of the coast consists of salt pans that extend far inland. The largest natural harbor is at Dubai, although other ports have been dredged at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and elsewhere. Numerous islands are found in the Persian Gulf, and the ownership of some of them has been the subject of international disputes with both Iran and Qatar. The smaller islands, as well as many coral reefs and shifting sandbars, are a menace to navigation. Strong tides and occasional windstorms further complicate ship movements near the shore.

These northern emirates on the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman are part of the Gulf of Oman desert and semi-desert ecoregion. [3]

South and west of Abu Dhabi, vast, rolling sand dunes merge into the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia. The desert area of Abu Dhabi includes two important oases with adequate underground water for permanent settlements and cultivation. The extensive Liwa Oasis is in the south near the undefined border with Saudi Arabia, and about 100 km (62 mi) to the northeast is Al Buraymi Oasis, which extends on both sides of the Abu Dhabi-Oman border. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Prior to withdrawing from the area in 1971, Britain delineated the internal borders among the seven emirates in order to preempt territorial disputes that might hamper formation of the federation. In general, the rulers of the emirates accepted the British intervention, but in the case of boundary disputes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and also between Dubai and Sharjah, conflicting claims were not resolved until after the UAE became independent. The most complicated borders were in the Western Mountains, where five of the emirates contested jurisdiction over more than a dozen enclaves.[ citation needed ]


The UAE also extends for about 90 km (56 mi) along the Gulf of Oman, an area known as Al-Batinah coast. The Western Hajar Mountains [4] (Jibāl Al-Ḥajar Al-Gharbī), rising in places to 2,500 m (8,200 ft), separate Al-Batinah coast from the rest of the UAE. Beginning at the UAE-Oman border on the Persian Gulf coast of the Ras Musandam (Musandam Peninsula), the Western Mountains extend southeastward for about 150 km (93 mi) to the southernmost UAE-Oman frontier on the Gulf of Oman. The range continues as the Eastern Hajar Mountains (Jibāl Al-Ḥajar Ash-Sharqī) for more than 500 km (310 mi) into Oman. The steep mountain slopes run directly to the shore in many places. Nevertheless, there are small harbors at Dibba Al-Hisn, Kalba, and Khor Fakkan on the Gulf of Oman. In the vicinity of Fujairah, where the mountains do not approach the coast, there are sandy beaches.


The climate of the UAE generally is very hot and sunny during the day but at night it becomes very cold. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 50  °C (122.0  °F ) on the coastal plain. In the Western Hajar Mountains, temperatures are considerably cooler, a result of increased altitude. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C (50.0 and 57.2 °F). During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as the sharqi makes the coastal region especially unpleasant. The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 mm (4.7 in), but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 mm (13.8 in). Rain in the coastal region falls in short, torrential bursts during the summer months, sometimes resulting in floods in ordinarily dry wadi beds. The region is prone to occasional, violent dust storm, which can severely reduce visibility. The Jebel Jais mountain cluster in Ras Al Khaimah has experienced snow only four times (2004, 2009, 2017 and 2020 ) since records began. [11] [12]

Flora and fauna

Date palms, as well as acacia and eucalyptus trees, are commonly found growing at the region's oases. Within the desert itself, the flora is much more sparse and primarily consists of grasses and thornbushes.

The region's indigenous fauna had previously come close to extinction due to intensive hunting, which led to a 1970s conservation program on the Bani Yas island by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan; this resulted in the survival of Arabian oryxes and leopards, among others.[ citation needed ] The region's coastal fish consist mainly of mackerel, perch and tuna, as well as sharks and whales.

Area and land boundaries

Sand Dunes on the outskirts of Liwa Oasis in the western region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Rolling Sand Dunes of Abu Dhabi.jpg
Sand Dunes on the outskirts of Liwa Oasis in the western region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi


Land boundaries:

Coastline: 1,318 km (819 mi)

Maritime claims:

Elevation extremes:

Resources and land use

Environmental concerns

See also


  1. Jebel Jais is the highest mountain in the UAE with a height of 1,934 m (6,345 ft), but because its peak is in Oman, Jebel Yibir or Mebrah has the highest peak [1] [2]

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Al Ain is a city in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the United Arab Emirates' border with Oman, adjacent to the town of Al-Buraimi. It is the largest inland city in the Emirates, the fourth-largest overall, and the second-largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The freeways connecting Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) from the other two.

E 11 road (United Arab Emirates) road in the United Arab Emirates

E 11 is a highway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The longest road in the Emirates, it stretches from Al-Silah in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and ends in Ras al-Khaimah emirate, running roughly parallel to UAE's coastline along the Persian Gulf. The road forms the main artery in some emirates' main cities, where it assumes various alternate names —Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Road and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, and Sheikh Muhammad bin Salem Road in Ras al-Khaimah.

Musandam Peninsula Place

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Jebel Hafeet mountain on the Arabian Peninsula

Jabal Hafeet is a mountain in the region of Tawam, on the border of the United Arab Emirates and Oman, which may be considered an outlier of Al Hajar Mountains in Eastern Arabia. Due to its proximity to the main Hajar range, the mountain may be considered as being part of the Hajar range, sensu lato. To the north is the UAE city of Al Ain, in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the adjacent Omani town of Al-Buraimi.

Emirate of Dubai An emirate, one of the constituents of the United Arab Emirates

The Emirate of Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

Al Buraimi Governorate Governorate of Oman

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Emiratis Ethnic group

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Jebel Jais mountain on the Arabian Peninsula

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Trucial States British protectorate 1820–1971, precursor to United Arab Emirates

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Wildlife of the United Arab Emirates

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The geology of the United Arab Emirates includes very thick Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic marine and continental sedimentary rocks overlying deeply buried Precambrian. The region has extensive oil and gas resources and was deformed during the last several million years by more distant tectonic events.

Tawam (region) historical oasis region in Eastern Arabia

Tawam, also Tuwwam, Tu'am, or "Al-Buraimi Oasis", is a historical oasis region in Eastern Arabia that stretched from, or was located between, the Western Hajar Mountains to the Arabian or Persian Gulf coast, nowadays forming parts of what is now the United Arab Emirates and western Oman. It is marked by the twin settlements of Al Ain and Al-Buraimi on the UAE-Omani border.


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