The views in this piece exclusively reflect the opinions and experiences of KangarooJackNicholson, and do not reflect other staff writers, nor the Earth2 team. It should also be noted that KJN holds tiles in multiple nations and is involved in marketplace purchasing and selling.
Author Disclaimer: This article does not contain any information about natural resources like oil fields. Let's just say there are a lot of them and it would have turned this article into War and Peace.
This Saturday, the United Arab Emirates ("UAE") will be opening for purchase to the public, the first opportunity for the community to buy some cheap nearly $0.10 tiles and Class One tiles directly from Earth2 in months. This, coupled with the high earning reputation of places like Dubai, has the community excited to purchase tiles, myself included. However, I’ve been working up a sweat combing through the marketplace in a Mountain Dew fueled feverish dream. I haven’t deliberately sought out many tiles to purchase directly from Earth2 in months and this got me thinking: What is the UAE, and what opportunities does it hold for Earth2.io?
First, what is the UAE? The UAE is a nation of seven smaller “Emirates”. Think of these emirates in the same way you might think of a state or region. The most well known and highest population of these emirates is Dubai, with the following six emirates organized by population, highest to lowest: Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm-al Quwain. In all of these cases there is both the primary city and the Emirate itself, so all references will be to the Emirate (e.g., when we’re discussing Dubai, we’re discussing not only talking about the city of Dubai.) The purpose of this piece is to highlight interesting locations in the nation as a whole, beyond just Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It should also be noted that this guide consists of things I was able to find within about 5-10 minutes of searching on Wikipedia and Google. There are certainly things that will be of interest to people of which I am completely unaware, and which will not be touched on in this piece. It should also be noted that some items were purchased in UAE prior to closure, and some of the places described below may not be available.
Dubai (Population ~4.2 Million)
Let’s begin with Dubai, the proverbial reason for the season, and seemingly the focus of at least 95% of all UAE discussion.
Dubai has attained this notoriety largely through it’s reputation as a high income location.
Dubai has the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, along with numerous other examples of modern, expensive architecture (such as the Dubai Frame, the Burj Al Arab, and Wild Wadi Waterpark). Some of these projects are ongoing: for example the Dubai Square, a planned retail and entertainment hub that will be twice as large as the Dubai Mall (the largest mall in the world by land area). The famous man-made World Islands are also in ongoing development. In addition to modern architecture, there are many older landmarks in the region as well. There is the Al-Fahidi Fort, as well as older mosques and other pre-2000s developments of historical significance.
Regarding locations of more geographic significance, the Hajar Mountains in the exclave of Hatta, bordering Oman to the east of Dubai City, may be of interest to those who love mountain tiles. There is also the Dubai Creek which runs through the city, as well as loads of beachfront tiles (as with many of the Emirates). While not a natural geographic location, the massive Dubai Safari Park also offers a potentially different resource/biome from many of the surrounding areas.
Abu Dhabi (Population ~2.8 Million)
Abu Dhabi is the largest of all emirates in terms of land area, and also holds the capital city of Abu Dhabi. Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has had an explosion of modern architecture, with the 26 tallest buildings in the Emirate all being built within the past 12 years.
Four of these buildings are over 1,000 feet tall (The Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid, The ADNOC Headquarters, The Landmark, and Etihad Tower 2). In addition to skyscrapers, other notable buildings include the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Presidential Palace, and the Qasr Al Hosn, built in 1761.
Abu Dhabi itself is built from over 200 islands, which will appeal to some users who would like to own part of (or even the entirety of) a private island. By extension of this conglomeration of islands, there are also many beach tiles. While the Emirate is bordered by mountains to the east, the only mountain fully in Abu Dhabi is Hafeet Mountain. There are also 3 major parks in the city of Abu Dhabi itself: The Lake Park, Heritage Park, and Mangrove National Park.
Sharjah (Population ~2.4 Million)
Sharjah is the third largest Emirate in both population and area, and is the only Emirate to border both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. This is in part due to three enclaves located on the eastern side of the UAE, separate from the main area of Sharjah. The city of Sharjah, similar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has also seen a boom in modern architecture and tourist-focused development projects, though not to the same degree as Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The Heritage district is home to the Heart of Sharjah, a number of museums and some of the oldest construction in the region. There are also a number of high end hotels in The Buhairah Corniche area of Sharjah.
The Al-Qasba Canal runs through the center of the city of Sharjah, and has various shops and tourist attractions. The Al Majaz Waterfront has been subject to recent development, beautifying the area and upgrading pre-existing infrastructure.
There is also the Sharjah National Park, and a number of mosques and churches of impressive size and design.
Ras Al Khaimah (Population ~417,000)
This is where we begin to see a significant drop-off in terms of population, with Ras Al Khaimah having roughly ⅙ the size of the next largest Emirate. Ras Al Khaimah does not have the same degree of modern infrastructure projects as their larger counterparts, but there are still a number of beautiful buildings in the Emirate. The Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah fort museum and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (not to be confused with the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi) are all of note. There are also a number of historically significant buildings in this Emirate. The Dhayah Fort, Al Falayah Fort and Bu Shaqq tower are among the pre-20th century buildings in Ras Al Khaimah. In addition, Jebel Jais is located in this region, a mountain which has the longest zipline in the world.
Ajman (Population ~373,000)
Ajman is the smallest Emirate in the UAE, coming in at roughly 260 square kilometers. 95% of the Emirates population live in the city of Ajman. Ajman is directly bordered by Sharjah, linking the two capital cities across Emirates. Tourist attractions in this Emirate include the Ajman Beach, Ajman National Museum, and City Centre Ajman (the largest mall in the Emirate).
The Ajman Corniche is also home to some of the largest and most eye-catching architecture in this Emirate, such as the Ajman Corniche Mosque, the Ajman Palace, the Ajman Hotel and Al Murabaa Watchtower, among others.
Fujairah (Population ~152,000)
The only Emirate with a coastline exclusively on the Gulf of Oman, this Emirate is likely most noteworthy for archaeological finds and general historical significance. The Al Badiyah Mosque is the oldest Mosque in all of the UAE, and also holds the 200+ year old Al Bithnah Fort. Mountains in the Al Hajar range also run through Fujairah (as well as bordering Oman). There are also a number shopping malls in Fujairah, as well as the University of Fujairah.
Umm Al Quwain (Population ~72,000)
The lowest population in the UAE by a good margin, Umm Al Quwain holds many sites of historical significance to the region, but also has tourist attractions as well. The Umm Al Quwain Fort and the Old Harbour are the most noteworthy instances of old construction in this Emirate.
The Dreamland Aqua Park represents a tourist attraction that could have good foot traffic and look great on the satellite images, relative to other parts of the Emirate. In addition, there are a number of islands in this Emirate, providing yet another opportunity at island tiles.
Thank you for reading and happy tile hunting!