Although about 80% of its land is desert, the United Arab Emirates has emerged as an economic powerhouse in the Middle East. Technically a federation of seven emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the oil and natural-gas rich nation has also become a major player in international tourism. Skyscraper hotels, gigantic shopping malls, beaches — both natural and man-made — and a growing cruise port have all contributed to the diversification of the country’s economy.
The nation is Florida’s No. 17 export partner. In 2012, Florida’s trade with the UAE — in imported and exported goods — was worth $2.4 billion, more than 2½ times its worth in 2010. Most of that was exports, particularly vehicles and gold, along with aircraft parts and computers, flowing largely through ports in Tampa and Miami.