13% of the total UAE population in (2010)
|Regions with significant populations|
|UAE 947,997 (2010)|
|Gulf Arabic · Standard Arabic|
Emirati or Emirian people (Arabic: إماراتي) are citizens and an ethnic group who share their culture, descent and the Arabic variety of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The largest concentration is in the UAE, with a population of 947,997 being Emiratis (however, they are a minority within their own country, as Emiratis make up only between 15-20% of the UAE population).
Many Emiratis originate from the Bani Yas tribe, in addition many Emiratis are Persians who originate from Iran. The majority of Emiratis in Dubai are of Iranian or Persian ancestry. The Arabs come from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates itself.  A small number of Indian, Pakistani, Madagascan and people from other races have intermarried with Emiratis, thereby becoming UAE citizens.
Populations with Emirati ancestry, the result of emigration, also exist in other parts of the world, most notably in the Middle East (the GCC mainly), Europe and North America. Population estimates are seen to have a very small diaspora, mainly because the UAE provides them with more than adequate welfare benefits, removing the need to live and work in other developed countries.
UAE is a recently created country with a history that is shared by the neighbouring empires such as Persia, Rome, Ottoman Empire, and foreign powers such as Portugal and England. The earliest inhabitants were the Neolithic people, 5500 B.C. Significant control, and commerce was established by the successive Persian empires. During the Sasanian era, Persians controlled most of the lands around the Persian Gulf. The Romans also exerted influence on the Persian Gulf. Envoys from the Islamic prophet Muhammad saw the islands convert to Islam around 630 C.E. The Portuguese would then battle the then dominant force in the Persian Gulf, the Safavid dynasty and control UAE for the next 150 years. During the 16th century, the Ottomans took control of the Islands and UAE was known as the "Pirate Coast." By the 19th century, the British Empire had taken complete control of the land then called the Trucial States. Oil was discovered in 1959. The Trucial States were under the control of the British Empire until 1971. Consequentially, with weakening British control, the Trucial States became the UAE in 1971 with Ras al-Khaimah joining in 1972.
The term Emirati comes from the Arabic word emir (Arabic: أمير) which means commander. Each emirate is ruled by an emir, whose citizens (generally) belong to his clan. The Bani Yas tribe forms the basis of many clans within the UAE. Sub-clans of the Bani Yas include
- Al Bu Falah (Abu Dhabi)
- Al Bu Falasah (Dubai)
- Al Qawasim (Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah)
- Al Ali (or Al Mualla) (Umm Al Quwain)
- Al Sharqiyan (Fujairah)
- Al Nu'aim (Ajman)
Another definition of "Emirati" is Arabs with origins in the UAE.
The population of the UAE as of 2009 stands at four million, of which 16.5% are native Emiratis.
The rest of the population of the UAE (83.5%) is composed of expatriates, with the largest groups hailing from South Asian countries such as India (1.75 million), Pakistan (1.25 million) and Bangladesh (500,000), and Iran (500,000). Members of other Asian communities, including China, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Afghanistan make up approximately one million of the total population. Western expatriates, from Europe, Australia, and Latin America make up 500,000 of the overall population.
Islam is largest and the official state religion of the UAE and the government follows a policy of tolerating existence of other religions.
There are approximately 31 churches throughout the country and one Hindu temple in the region of Bur Dubai. Emiratis are largely Muslims, approximately 85% of whom are Sunni and the remaining 15% are Shia.
The government imposes restrictions on marriage for its citizens. In UAE for instance, Muslim women are forbidden by law from marrying men of "the book" (referring to the people of Christian and Jewish faith), while Arab men are allowed to marry women of "the book". In UAE, a union between a Muslim woman and a man of "the book" is punishable by law, since it is considered a form of "fornication".
Emirati culture mainly revolves around traditional Arab and Persian cultures and the religion Islam. Being a highly cosmopolitan society, the UAE has a diverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic, Persian and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to the prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country.
Falcon training is one of the UAE's national symbols. These birds can be seen on the coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates. They were traditionally used for hunting, and trained by the Bedouin tribes. Other symbols are the camel and the Arabian horse.
Music and dance
The music of the UAE stems from the Persian Gulf khaleeji tradition, and from Bedouin folk music. Distinctive dance songs from the area's fishermen are also well-known. Liwa (or leiwah / leywah) is a type of music and dance performed mainly in communities of Bantu peoples from the African Great Lakes region.
The country's most famous performers are Mohammed Al Muhairi (better known as Mehad Hamad), Aitha Al Menhali, and Hussain Al Jasmi. Other singers from the UAE include: Samar Mattar, Reem Al Mahmoudi, Huda Al Nuaimi, Ruwaida Al Mahrouqi, Haneef Al Raisi, Shamma Hamdan, Fayez Al Saeed, Abdallah Belkhair and Meera.
In recent years, many Emiratis who wear traditional attire have complained about being discriminated against by expatriates living in the UAE. Emirati men who wear the kandura or the women who wear the abaya have been turned away from certain leisure activities like visiting the beach, bowling in Dubai Outlet Mall and skiing at Ski Dubai. Emiratis have also complained of chronic overcharging in various shops and restaurants. Those wearing the Kandura are reportedly being charged triple amounts for goods and services, mainly because of public misperceptions that all Emiratis are rich.
At the same time, some Emiratis look down on other nationalities especially bachelors from nearby South Asia and do not support integration of expatriates into local society. There are instances of Emiratis criticizing the dress sense or behaviors of western expatriates.
- UAE National Bureau of Statistics. (PDF). Retrieved on 2012-01-01.
- "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- "Dubai, the City As Corporation". Ahmed Kanna. 2011. p. 144.
- "Global Downtowns". Marina Peterson, Gary McDonogh. 2012. p. 300. "In Dubai, a majority of the population (perhaps 80 percent) is expatriate, and majority of the citizenship is ethnically Persian, not Arab. The ruling families of each emirate, however, are ethnically Arab."
- MobileReference (2010). Travel Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Illustrated Guide, Phrasebook and Maps. Google eBooks.
- : The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Long, Reich.
- Advanced Digital Technology www.adtworld.com (2008-04-05). "Gulfnews: Churches and temples in the UAE". Archive.gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
- United Arab Emirates Religion
- United Arab Emirates International Religious Freedom Report, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2009)
- "UAE Culture". Uae.gov.ae. 2000-06-01. Retrieved 2009-07-15.[dead link]