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In October 2017, the UAE became the first nation in the world to create a ministry for Artificial Intelligence and His Excellency Omar Sultan AL Olama was appointed as the first Minister of State for AI. The position has been enhanced since July 2020 and he now holds the portfolio of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications. The focus is to spearhead efforts to position UAE as a global leader in Digital Economy and remote work applications.
The country has grown at an unprecedented rate when it comes to population. From half a million in 1975, the population now stands at close to 10 million. The fascinating part is that almost 85% of the population comprises expats from almost every country in the world. Only close to 12% are actual natives of the UAE. Nationals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines contribute to the majority of the immigrants.
Known for its skyscraper buildings, the UAE boasts of being the home to 6 of tallest hotels in the world. The highest one is the five-star property that is made of gleaming gold and is named The Gevovra which has 75 floors and is 365 metres tall. Other hotels to make it to this list are the JW Marriot Marquis, Rose Rayhaan and the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, all of which offer amazing views and food.
Camels have always been an integral part of Emirati culture. Today camel racing is one of the most loved sporting events in the country for which there are specially built camel racing tracks which are tech driven and fully equipped. There are a total of 15 tracks around the country. Racing season is between November to April, with winners earning expensive cars and cash gifts. The largest track of Dubai is located near the Al Marhoom Heritage Village and Al Lisaili area.
Despite the evident presence of camels all across the deserts of the UAE the majestic Arabian Oryx is the national animal of the country. Known as Al Maha in Arabic, this animal belongs to the antelope species. It is the largest mammal to inhabit the Arabian deserts and the white glistening coat represents the sun’s light. It has been reintroduced in many states of the UAE after being close to extinction in 1972. It is believed that this animal can smell rain even at a distance. They mostly travel in herds of up to 30 but at times can be seen in smaller groups as well.
No other country in the world has scarcity of fresh water resources like the UAE. They rely heavily on rainfall in the Hajar mountains which fill up their underground water sources and gorges. However, UAE has quite a few oases with Al Ain' being the country's largest, located in Abu Dhabi. Considered to be one of the driest areas, UAE holds less than 2% of the renewable water sources globally. The water table has been constantly dropping and has gone down to almost a metre per year. Projections show that the UAE could lose all its freshwater resources in the next 50 years.
Falcons are considered to symbolize the nation’s power and heritage. These birds are so revered in the nation that they enjoy a level of luxury that even humans can only dream about. They are the national bird of the country and the only animals that can travel in planes as passengers and not as cargo provided they are in the first class or business class section. They also require passports to be safe from illegal trade. Falconry is considered to be an art in Emirati culture. People train their falcons for years to create an unbreakable bond between them. Falconry has also been added to the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity of UNESCO in 2016.
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