Emirati people

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Emirati  إماراتي
Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.jpgMohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda 2008 1.jpgLubna.png
Total population
1.5 million
12% of total UAE population[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United Arab Emirates
in 2010[2]
 United Kingdom 5,406[3]
 United States 4,000
Other Arab states of the Persian Gulf varies
 Germany 2,390[4]
 Denmark 220[5]
Predominately Sunni Islam of Maliki school of jurisprudence, significant minorities of Shia and Salafi Muslims.

The Emirati people (Arabic: إماراتي‎) are citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The largest concentration is in the UAE, where there are 1.4 million Emiratis.[1]

Formerly known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, the UAE is made up of seven emirates, each of which had a dominant or ruling family or tribe. Abu Dhabi was home to the Sir Bani Yas; Dubai settled in 1833 by an offshoot of the Bani Yas, the Al Bu Falasah; Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah to the Al Qasimi or Qawasim; Ajman to the Al Naim and Fujeirah to the Sharqiyin. Additionally a number of large tribes settled in these territories or travelled the interior of the UAE, including the Manasir and Awamir, the Mazari, Bani Qitab, Al Bu Shams, Manahil, Rashid, Al Murrah, Za'ab, Tanaij, Naqbiyin, Ghafalah and the Bani Ka'ab.

Many modern Emirati names are derived from these tribal names or offshoots of these tribes, for instance Mazroui (from Mazari), Nuaimi (from Naim) and Al Sharqi (from Sharqiyin).[6]


Emirati culture is based on Arab culture and has been influenced by the religion Islam. Arabian influence on Emirati culture is noticeably visible in traditional Emirati architecture.


The influence of Islamic culture on Emirati 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.[7]

The falcon is a national symbol
Camel race in front of the Dubai towers

Some oriental educationists and cultural academics have stated that luxuriousness and some extravagance is a feature of the emirati culture.[8] Some statistics show that despite government initiatives for increase in wider Emirati participation in how the country, most Emiratis did not pay much attention to it, as evidenced by a lacklustre turn-out to the advisory body.[9]

Music and dance[edit]

The music of the UAE stems from the Persian Gulf seafaring tradition. 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 United Arab Emirates is a recently created country with a history entwined with various empires, such as those of Portugal and the United Kingdom. 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.[10] Oil was discovered in 1959. The Trucial States were under the control of the British Empire until 1971. Consequently, with weakening British control, the Trucial States became the UAE in 1971 with Ras al-Khaimah joining in 1972.[10]

The term Emirati comes from the Arabic word emir (Arabic: أمير‎) which means commander. Each emirate is ruled by an emir. The Bani Yas tribe forms the basis of many clans within the UAE. Sub-clans of the Bani Yas include[11]

Another definition of "Emirati" is Arabs with origins in the UAE.


Emiratism or Emirianism refers to advocacy for Emirati nationalism, which usually comes in the form of initiating concepts that put Emirati nationals first. This may come in the form of increasing Emirian cultural visibility, a celebratory outlook on Emirati identity or the promotion of Emirians in the UAE workforce, by giving Emirati citizens preferential treatment. Some unofficial government documents have referred to this as Emiratization.[12]

National symbols[edit]

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. Most Emiratis view Sheikh Zayed as an essential component of Emirati nationalism,[13] Emiratis are proud of their nations global name associated with tourist prospects, prefer interactions with fellow nationals, most are computer literate and adult Emiratis past born in the 21st century are more likely to be bilingual[14][15] These are many landmarks and sculptures in the country of teapots, water jugs and coffeemakers to symbolize the hospitality of the Emirati people. Due to the pearl-diving history of the Emirates, nautical sailing and other activities at sea are sometimes emphasized.[16]


The population of the UAE as of 2009 stands at six million, of which 16.5% are Emiratis.

The rest of UAE's population (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). There are also nationals of other GCC and Arab countries who live in the UAE. Members of other Asian communities, including China, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Afghanistan and Iran 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.


Main article: Emirati Arabic

Emirati Arabic is a variety of Arabic used in the UAE.


The word Emirati is an English derived from a combination of the word emir, which is an Islamic leader, and the English suffix -ate. It gradually came to mean United Arab Emirates. The demonym Emirian has a similar root from except with the suffix -ian being added to emir. However some usages of this term also use it for a distinct Emirian culture that existed in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine) between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods. Rarer Emirian demonyms and adjectives include Emiri and Emiratian, both of which are unofficial and informal alternates.[17] However due to strong tribal allegiances, many Emiratis also self-identify by their tribal affiliations, whereby some Emiratis may call themselves a "Bani Yasi", "Suweidi" or an "al-Shamsi", especially if they come from an influential tribe.


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.[18] Emiratis are largely Muslims, approximately 85% of whom are Sunni and the remaining 15% are Shia.[19]


Main article: Emirati diaspora

Emirati ancestry, the result of emigration, also exist in other parts of the world, most notably in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America.


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.[20] 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.[21]

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. In the workplace, excellent treatment is afforded to Emiratis compared to expatriates. The current generation of UAE locals commonly prefer cushy government jobs and consider private sector jobs to be below them.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Call to naturalise some expats stirs anxiety in the UAE
  2. ^ UAE National Bureau of Statistics, PDF document retrieved 2012-01-01.
  3. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Bevölkerung und Erwerbstätigkeit Ausländische Bevölkerung Ergebnisse des Ausländerzentralregisters". Statistisches Bundesamt. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Population at the first day of the quarter by municipality, sex, age, marital status, ancestry, country of origin and citizenship". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  6. ^ Heard-Bey, Frauke (1990). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. London: Longman. pp. 27–80. ISBN 0582277280. 
  7. ^ "UAE Culture". Uae.gov.ae. 2000-06-01. Retrieved 2009-07-15. [dead link]
  8. ^ Butler, Stuart (2007). Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula. p. 422. 
  9. ^ Warren, Alex (2012). The Battle for the Arab Spring:. 
  10. ^ a b MobileReference (2010). Travel Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Illustrated Guide, Phrasebook and Maps. Google eBooks. 
  11. ^ : The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Long, Reich.
  12. ^ Kalir, Sur, Barak, Malini (2012). Transnational Flows and Permissive Politie. 
  13. ^ Cross, Jay (2011). Informal Learning. 
  14. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/emiratis-dress-code_n_1653446.html
  15. ^ Mahdi, Ali (2003). Teen Life in the Middle East. p. 239. 
  16. ^ Bruijn, Liza (2010). Doing the deal, globally. p. 140. 
  17. ^ Douglas, Allen (1994). Arab comic strips. p. 150. 
  18. ^ Advanced Digital Technology www.adtworld.com (2008-04-05). "Gulfnews: Churches and temples in the UAE". Archive.gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  19. ^ United Arab Emirates Religion
  20. ^ http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/heritage/cracking-the-uae-dress-code-can-be-tough#page2
  21. ^ http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/emiratis-complain-of-chronic-overcharging-in-shops