Umm al-Quwain

Umm al-Quwain
إمارة أمّ القيوين
Mangroves near Umm al-Quwain


Coat of arms

Location of Umm al-Quwain in the UAE
Coordinates: 25°59′11″N 55°56′24″E / 25.98639°N 55.94000°E / 25.98639; 55.94000Coordinates: 25°59′11″N 55°56′24″E / 25.98639°N 55.94000°E / 25.98639; 55.94000
Country  United Arab Emirates
Emirate  Umm al-Quwain
  Type Absolute monarchy
  Emir Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla
  Metro 755 km2 (292 sq mi)
Population (2007)
  Metro 72,000
Time zone UAE Standard Time (UTC+4)

Umm al-Quwain (Arabic: أمّ القيوين; pronounced [ʔumː alˈqajwajn]) is the least populous of the seven sovereign emirates in the United Arab Emirates, located in the north of the country. The emirate is ruled by Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla. The emirate had 72,000 inhabitants in 2007 and has an area of 770 km2 (300 sq mi).[1]

The emirate consists in the main of the coastal city of Umm Al Qawain and the inland oasis town of Falaj Al Mualla, some 30km from the coast.[1]

Unlike some of its neighbours, Umm Al Qawain has not made any significant find of oil or gas in its territory and depends on revenue from hotels, parks and tourism,[2] fisheries and general trading activities [3] as well as the Umm Al Qawain Free Trade Zone (UAQFTZ)[4] based at Port Ahmed Bin Rashid.

A number of government initiatives and strategies have been put in place to incentivise growth in trade and industrial activity in the emirate, including a 2018 move to reduce government fees to business and waive fines and violations levied against businesses which had not renewed their trade licenses.[5]


Umm al-Quwain holds significant archaeological interest, with major finds at both Tell Abraq and Ed-Dur[6] pointing to significant Ancient Near Eastern Cities. Arrowheads and other polished flint tools have been unearthed in various sites across the UAE while pieces of Ubaid Age pottery have been unearthed along the shores of the emirate. All evidence obtained so far indicate that contact with Mesopotamia existed as early as the 5th millennium BC as an indigenous ceramic industry did not emerge until the 3rd century BC.

Finds at both Tell Abraq and Ed-Dur show habitation in the area throughout the Bronze age, from the Hafit period, through the Umm Al Nar period and the later Wadi Suq and Iron I, II and III ages. Finds also link Ed-Dur with the inland settlement of Mleiha,[7] especially distinctive burials of animals with their heads turned back on their bodies.[8] Significant trading links with both the Western Sumerian culture and the Eastern Indus Valley culture are displayed at these sites,[7] with the semi-nomadic Magan people smelting bronze mined in the Hajar Mountains and then shipping the smelted ore.

Macedonian coinage unearthed at Ed-Dur dates back to Alexander the Great,while hundreds of coins have been found bearing the name of Abi'el.[9] It is thought Ed-Dur is the site of Omana, mentioned by both Pliny and Strabo as an important town in the Lower Gulf.[10]

During the Bronze Age, agriculture flourished, with dates being the prominent crop. Wheat, millet and other grains were also cultivated wherever there was enough water for irrigation. It is now widely believed that the climate during the period was more temperate than now.[11]

20th Century

The modern history of Umm al-Quwain began some 200 years ago when the Al Ali tribe moved their capital from Al-Sinniyah Island to its present location in the mid-18th century due to declining water resources. In 1775, Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, founder of the ruling Al Mu’alla lineage of the Al Ali tribe, established an independent Sheikhdom in Umm al-Quwain.

On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Abdullah I signed the General Maritime Treaty with the United Kingdom, thus accepting a British protectorate in order to keep the Ottoman Turks out. Like Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Sharjah, its position on the route to India made it important enough to be recognized as a salute state with a three gun salute.

By 1903, J. G. Lorimer's famous survey of the Trucial Coast had Umm al-Quwain listed as a town of some 5,000 inhabitants and identified as the major boat-building centre on the coast, producing some 20 boats a year compared to 10 in Dubai and 5 in Sharjah.[12]

On 2 December 1971, Sheikh Ahmad II joined its neighbors Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah in forming the United Arab Emirates, with Ras Al Khaimah joining later in early 1972.


The successive rulers of Umm Al Qawain were:

  • 1775–17?? Sheikh Majid Al Mu'alla
  • 17??–1816 Sheikh Rashid I bin Majid Mu'alla
  • 1816–1853 Sheikh Abdullah I bin Rashid Al Mu'alla
  • 1853–1873 Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Mu'alla
  • 1873 – 13 June 1904 Sheikh Ahmad I bin 'Abd Allah Al Mu'alla (b. 18?? – d. 1904)
  • 13 June 1904 – August 1922 Sheikh Rashid II bin Ahmad Al Mu'alla (b. 1875 – d. 1922)
  • August 1922 – October 1923 Sheikh 'Abdallah II bin Rashid Al Mu'alla
  • October 1923 – 9 February 1929 Sheikh Hamad bin Ibrahim Al Mu'alla
  • 9 February 1929 – 21 February 1981 Sheikh Ahmad bin Rashid Al Mu'alla (b. 1904 – d. 1981)
  • 21 February 1981 – 2 January 2009 Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmad Al Mu'alla (b. 1930 – d. 2009)
  • 2 January 2009 Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla


The American oil company Occidental acquired a concession to search for oil in Umm Al Qawain territorial waters on 19 November 1969. Occidental proposed drilling an exploratory well nine miles from the island of Abu Musa in the Gulf in what it considered to be Umm Al Qawain waters. However, this conflicted with a 12-mile territorial limit claimed by Sharjah. On 15 May 1970, the British authorities referred the dispute to arbitration, but ruled that Occidental could continue to drill. On the 20th May, Iran informed the British that it laid claim to Abu Musa and the two Tunbs islands and would intercede if Occidental continued to drill. The British proposed a three month suspension of drilling pending the outcome of arbitration, a decision enforced by a British Minesweeper, which intercepted Occidental's drilling platform and moved it out of the area.[13]

The agreement between Sharjah and Iran over the island of Abu Musa, made on the 29th November 1971 and the subsequent invasion of the islands on 30 November 1971 rendered the issue moot. Occidental would never find oil under its Umm Al Qawain concession.[14]


During November to March, the average temperature is 27 °C (81 °F) by day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night, but it can rise to over 40 °C (104 °F)[15] in the peak of the summer and when humidity levels are high. The rainfall is minimal and averages 42 mm (1.7 in) a year. The coastline experiences cooling sea breezes during the day.

Umm al-Quwain
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [16]


The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.[17]


Al-Sinniyah island, close to the town of Umm al-Quwain is home to the UAE's largest Socotra cormorant colony, with over 15,000 pairs making it the third largest colony in the world. Arabian gazelle have been introduced to Sinniyah and appear to be prospering. Marine life is remarkable for its abundance and diversity. Blacktip reef sharks patrol the outer shoreline, while green turtles are ubiquitous in the inner leads in particular. Between Al-Sinniyah and the mainland is Khor al-Beidah, an expansive area of sand and mud flats of international importance for its waterfowl.

Although not formally protected, the island of Sinaiyah, along with Khor al-Beidah, is one of the largest areas of undisturbed and varied coastal environment remaining anywhere in the UAE.[18]


  • Umm al-Quwain Fort: A fort which was once home to the emirate's ruler and guarded the entrance to the old town, overseeing the sea on one side and the creek on the other. It eventually became a police station then a museum. The museum now houses artifacts found at important nearby sites including Al-Dour and houses a collection of weapons that were used through the emirate's history. It is located near a Masjid (Mosque) in Umm al-Quwain Bazaar.
  • Old Harbor: An old harbor located in the old town overlooking the traditional dhow building yard where skilled craftsmen continue to assemble these traditional boats. The harbor is surrounded by old coral stone houses that display features of the original architecture and intricate sculptured plaster work.
  • Islands of Umm al-Quwain: Islands that lie to the east of the mainland peninsula on a unique stretch of coastline consisting of sandy islands surrounded by dense mangrove forests, separated by a series of creeks. The largest of the seven islands is Al Sinniyah, followed by Jazirat Al Ghallah and Al Keabe, all of which are visible from the old town. Tucked in between these and the coastal plains are the smaller islands of Al Sow, Al Qaram, Al Humaidi, Al Chewria and Al Harmala. The Madaar creek that runs between the islands provides a navigable waterway for fisherman even at low tide when the average depth is less than a few feet.
  • Ed-Dur: Located to the North of Umm al-Quwain, the ancient near eastern city of Ed-Dur is considered the largest pre-Islamic site on the Persian Gulf coast.[19] There are two public monuments at Al-Dour, a small square fort with round corner towers and a small square temple dedicated to the Semitic sun god Shamash.[20] The site is not open to the public.
  • Dreamland Aqua Park: the largest water park in the UAE is located on the coastline of Umm al-Quwain; about 40 minutes drive from Dubai, with 250,000 m2 (62 acres) expanse of landscaped gardens and over 30 rides, slides, and attractions. The Park is operated all year round with a daily capacity of ten thousand visitors.[21]

See also


  1. 1 2 1941-, Heard-Bey, Frauke, (2005). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates : a society in transition. London: Motivate. ISBN 1860631673. OCLC 64689681.
  2. "Umm Al Quwain - The Official Portal of the UAE Government". Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  3. Editor, Manoj Nair, Associate (2011-04-07). "Tourism and trade the top priorities in Umm Al Quwain". GulfNews. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  4. "UAQ Free Trade Zone | Business Licences | Umm Al Quwain, Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ajman & RAK :: uaq ftz". Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  5. Report, Staff (2018-05-05). "Umm Al Quwain to slash cost of doing business in emirate". GulfNews. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  6. "Archaeologists strike gold in Umm Al Quwain". Gulfnews. 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  7. 1 2 Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Ed-Dur Site - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  8. Neer, Wim Van; Gautier, Achilles; Haerinck, Ernie; Wouters, Wim; Kaptijn, Eva. "Animal exploitation at ed‐Dur (Umm al‐Qaiwain, United Arab Emirates)". Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. 28 (1). doi:10.1111/aae.12080/abstract. ISSN 1600-0471.
  9. "500 tombs dating back 2,000 years found in Umm Al Quwain". The National. Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  10. Denton, Branwen E.; MacAdam, Henry I. (1992). Potts, Daniel T., ed. "The Other Mediterranean: Archaeology and the Gulf". The Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 23 (1): 119–131. doi:10.2307/205485.
  11. Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates. Potts, Daniel T.,, Nābūdah, Ḥasan Muḥammad,, Hellyer, Peter,. London. ISBN 190072488X. OCLC 54405078.
  12. Lorimer, John (1906). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia. UK: Government of India. p. 1441.
  13. 1941-, Heard-Bey, Frauke, (2005). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates : a society in transition. London: Motivate. pp. 495–6. ISBN 1860631673. OCLC 64689681.
  14. 1941-, Heard-Bey, Frauke, (2005). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates : a society in transition. London: Motivate. pp. 366–7. ISBN 1860631673. OCLC 64689681.
  15. "Umm Al Quwain Weather".
  16. National Center of Meteorology & Seismology
  17. Jonathan Sheikh-Miller. "UAE Weekend Switchover". AMEinfo. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  18. "Umm Al Quwain - Around the city". Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  19. "Heritage a new industry". 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  20. "Al Dur, United Arab Emirates". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  21. "Welcome to Dreamland Aqua Park". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
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