The Pearl of the Arabian Peninsula


The Arabian Peninsula is the largest peninsula found in Western Asia and sometimes seen as a subcontinent of Asia. It measures 3,237,500 km2 making it the largest peninsula in the world. The Arabian Peninsula consists of seven countries in total and some parts of Jordan and Iraq. These countries are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. The peninsula is touted to have been formed around 23-56 million years ago as a result of the Red Sea rifting. The Arabian Peninsula borders the Indian Ocean on the southeast, the Persian Gulf on the northeast, African continent to the East and the Levant to the North. The peninsula was called Jaziratul-Arab literally calling it the Island of Arabia. Over the years, the coastal regions, the desert climate and Islam have formed what today is the Arabian Peninsula. This paper will briefly outline the important features in the Arabian Peninsula and will briefly focus on the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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Political Boundaries

Before the Peninsula broke up, it was an open desert with four distinct regions (Southern Arabia, Eastern Arabia, Najd and Hejaz) with no physical borders. The region was generally seen as an Islamic country with the Ottoman Empire expanding its size and carving the peninsula with the help of the British to what we have today. During the Arab revolt in 1916-1918, there were tribal allegiances that saw formation of what are now the distinct countries of the region. The Arabian peninsula is located in the Asian continent and borders a number of countries like the Gulf of Oman to the east, as well as a number of water bodies like the Arabian sea to the south and southeast, the red sea to the west and southwest and the Gulf of Aden to the south. One of the prominent features of the Arabian Peninsula is its desert although there are a number of mountain ranges to the southwest that are able to receive a good amount of rainfall. There is no clear distinction as the peninsula runs and meets the Syrian Desert to some of the northern parts.

Seven countries make up the Arabian Peninsula while six of them (only Yemen) are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Majority of the Arabian Peninsula populace live in Yemen and Saudi Arabia although it is Saudi Arabia that covers most of land. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are the most economically stable countries in the Arabian Peninsula. It is also noteworthy to note that the Arabian Peninsula covers that part of the world with the largest reserves of oil. The population of the Arabian Peninsula is mainly made of the locals with a large number of expatriates working in various industries across the region. The population as at 2014 was estimated to be 77,983,936.

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The Arabian Peninsula Landscape

Sometimes the Arabian Peninsula is known as the Arabian subcontinent. This is because the region is understood to be moving away from the African continent as its tectonic plate keeps on moving east towards the Eurasian plate (towards Asia). The Arabian Peninsula has few rivers that are mainly seasonal appearing during the rainy season and dry throughout the year. Generally, the climatic conditions here are hot and arid apart from the mountainous parts to the east which is cool and with humid breezes.

The Arabian Peninsula is actually dry and thus unsuitable for agricultural activities. It is therefore important that governments here can think of irrigation and land reclamation from the sea as important projects for any agricultural activities. However, on its narrow coastline, there are some agricultural activities that take place like cultivation of coffee, grains, and fruits. Elsewhere on the peninsula, the people here practice nomadic lifestyle rearing sheep, camels and goats. parts of Yemen has some fertile soils that have seen a number of settlement right from the sea into the mountains with some parts of the country to the mountains being cultivated for tropical fruits, coffee, khat and ginger.

The Arabian Peninsula is known as one earths hottest and driest countries made up of a barren desert. Due to its harsh climatic conditions, the peninsula has kept its population to the minimum possible while at the same time deterring any possible Western civilization in its empire and communities. Settlement in these areas has been restricted to mostly where there is rainfall especially due to the nomadic nature of the individuals living here with unrestrained ethnic warfare. The way people live in the Arabian Peninsula is mostly ordered by availability of water, nomadic life and now recently availability of oil.

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The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the southeast Arabian Peninsula. The United Arab Emirates boarders Saudi Arabia to the south, the Persian Gulf to the southeast and shares its borders with Iran and Qatar. The country was established 1971 with seven different emirates (states). It is one of the Peninsulas most important economic caters. Its population has grown over the years to hit 9.2 million but of which expatriates make up about 7.8 million while the local populace is only 1.4 million. Due to the large expatriate population, the country has moved from being a conservative state to one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates is wealthy and a highly developed country in the Arabian Peninsula. Islam is the countrys official religion while Arabic is the official language. However, due to a high number of expatriates, English has become the most commonly spoken language here especially in the country main cities and towns. Dubai, UAEs most prominent and populous city has become a global city, a tourist attraction center as well as a global aviation hub. This has been largely due to production of oil that was discovered in the 1950s and oil export in the 1960s.


The Arabian Peninsula has a total area of 3.1 million square kilometers and borders the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf. It is made of seven countries with Islam as the main religion and Arabic the official language. Most of the peninsula is not favorable for agriculture due to high temperatures with little rainfall. Differences in sect and tribal affiliations saw the peninsula break into different countries. The land in Arabian Peninsula can only be said to be a vast plateau that receives little to no rainfall in a year. The climatic conditions can be described as one with intense heat sometimes peaking at 54 oC. This makes the region dry throughout the year with high humidity during summer. Rainfall is negligible averaging only 3 or 4 inches a year. Plant life is mainly date palm, coconut palm, fruits and coffee can grow in the highlands. The main types of animals are traditionally associated with a nomadic kind of life with sheep, goats and camels as the main source of livelihood for nomads. Discovery of oil in the region since the 1950s has seen the profile for this region rise unexpectedly with several expatriates now living and working in the peninsula. The boom has seen countries like the United Arab Emirates emerging as wealthy nations acting now as global hubs for aviation, tourism and finance. Big cities like Dubai have also emerged and even host the tallest and iconic buildings in the world.

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