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Recently, more urban settings have exhibited decorative designs with local themes related to the national heritage.

Date palm trees, symbols of the local culture, have been planted extensively along city roadsides. Before the 1960s, food consisted mainly of fish, rice, bread, dates, yogurt, homegrown vegetables, and meat from sheep, goats, and camels.

The diet has improved in quality and variety, with modern supermarkets offering imported foods.

This led to the settlement of different ethnic groups from countries along the trade routes, such as Iran and India.

Trade activities with east Africa led to the importation of Africans as laborers in the pearling industry in the late nineteenth century.

Dominant urban features include skyscrapers in the commercial city centers, multistory residential buildings, large shopping malls, wide boulevards, an extensive network of highways, and sprawling new suburbs.

The cities have a multiethnic composition, with segregated housing areas for nationals and the immigrants.Because of the small population and harsh desert interior, 80 percent of the population lives in the coastal capital cities, leading social scientists to describe them as city-states.Urbanization has been characterized by unparalleled growth.The latter factor has generated a dependence on expatriate labor; the UAE has become a multiethnic society, and Emirati nationals account for only about 20 percent of the population. Among the immigrant population, English, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and Filipino are spoken. The main metaphor is that of the family, with the president referred to as a father.This has created an imbalanced population composition in favor of males; in 1997, there were 1,755,000 males and 869,000 females. The colors of the national flag—green, red, white, and black—are shared with other Arab countries.Housing is subdivided further according to class, social power, ethnicity, and nationality.

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