About our countries

United Arab Emirates
Ukraine
Bahrain
Iraq
Iran
Qatar
Kuwait
Saudi Arabia
Oman

United Arab Emirates

General country information
United Arab Emirates (UAE) – popular and recognized among the world tourism community members Middle East destination. The main country’s attribute is its versatility – UAE combines excellent conditions both for business and commodity-money relations and for vacation leisure and entertainment. The role UAE of business travel center is received due to its high gas and oil production capacity and high-developed international trade branch. Virgin nature and clear water of the Persian Gulf, Coral Reef underwater world wonders, bright color palette and varied relief of landscapes, and the sun for 360 days a year make UAE a tourism center.
Words about UAE as business and tourism center are back with extended infrastructure. Luxury hotels, villas, townhouses and private residences, glass shopping plazas and city centers, unique indoor ski resort, cutting-edge business centers and recreation zones – such constructions create a picture with the image of the United Arab Emirates.

Geography
On the south and west UAE borders the Saudi Arabia, on the east – Oman. Administratively the UAE territory consists of seven independent emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah, Sharjah.Under the formal the UAE governs the territories of the following islands: Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tomb. The total country’s area is 83,6 thousand km2, 85% of which belongs to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The climate of the UAE is dry, subtropical. The average annual rainfall is around 13 cm. The best time to visit the UAE is between October and May, when temperatures hang around the mid-25s.

Time zone
Local time in UAE is 2 hours ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
The largest emirate of Abu Dhabi consists in the capital of the same name. The role of the city as the capital is formal since each of the seven emirates is considered as absolute self-governing with its own authorities. Capital’s key distinguishing features are the Residence UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and huge number of mosques. The city’s principal artery is the Corniche, which consists in all necessary for recreation places – the city’s seaside promenade, gardens, playgrounds, skateboard ring. Seaside areas are located here, as well as on the neighboring islands.

Population
The UAE’s population is estimated by the World Bank at 4.8 million people, of which even less than 11% are UAE nationals. The majority of the population are ethnic Arabs immigrated from Yemen, Oman, Morocco and Egypt and population from South Asia (Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh). Thus, a significant part of people who reside in the UAE are not its residents. Near 70 thousand British and other Europeans reside in the country. Therefore, despite that the official language is Arabic, many inhabitants speak English very well.

Currency
The official currency is the UAE dirham (Dh, AED) which is fully convertible to the US dollar. One dirham is divided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. Coins come in denominations of 25 fils, 10 fils and 5 fils.

National and religious holidays
January 1 – New Year’s Day
August 6 – Accession day or the day on which H. H Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the president of United Arab Emirates
December 2 – UAE National Day, that is relevant since 1971
There are many religious holidays of Islam in UAE. They are celebrated in different dates, which are determined by the adopted in Islam lunar calendar. The most significant is the holy month of Ramadan. The 3d day after Ramadan is After Eid AlFitr holiday. The 40 day after Ramadan is Sacrifice Feast – Eid al-Adha.
In UAE is done to honor Prophet Mohammed, thus it is done to celebrate great holiday of his birthday – Milad Al Nabi, and the day of his ascension – Lailat al Miraj.

Ukraine

Geography
Ukraine is located in the central Europe at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Ukraine borders on Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus and Russia. Having the total area of 603,700 sq.km, Ukraine is one of the biggest countries of Europe.
The climate of the country is moderate. Winter is rather mild, with no severe frosts but with regular snowfalls everywhere except the south. The rivers and lakes freeze in winter. The average winter temperature varies -20 Centigrade in the north to -3-5 in the south. Summer is quite hot and dry, with occasional showers and thunderstorms.
Due to favorable climatic conditions, Ukraine is traditionally an agricultural area. It grows wheat, maize, buckwheat and other corn, red and green vegetables, all kinds of fruit, melons and berries.

Capital
Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300.
Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro.

Population
Ukraine has a population of around 46 million.
Ukraine is multinational country. According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population. Other significant ethnic groups are the Russians (17.3%), Belarusians (0.6%), Moldovans (0.5%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Romanians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.2%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%) and Tatars (0.2%). The industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most heavily populated, and about 69 percent of the population lives in urban areas.
State language is Ukrainian. The majority of Ukrainians are bilingual and speak Russian as well. Russian is used widely in the southern and eastern regions. Among foreign languages the most popular is English.

Economy
Nowdays the economy of Ukraine is an emerging free market, with a gross domestic product that has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Ukraine has many of the components of a major European economy – rich farmlands, a well-developed industrial base, highly trained labour, and a good education system.
Ukraine is rich in natural resources. It has a major ferrous metal industry, producing cast iron, steel, and pipes. Its chemical industry includes the production of coke, mineral fertilizers, and sulfuric acid.
Manufactured goods include metallurgical equipment, diesel locomotives, tractors and automobiles. It also is a major producer of grain, sugar, meat and milk and possesses a broad industrial base, including much of the former USSR’s electronics and space industry. Although oil reserves are largely exhausted, it has important energy sources, such as coal, natural gas, hydroelectricity and nuclear fuel raw materials. Ukraine has got large mineral deposits.
Unemployment rate was 8.1% in 2010.
Public debt was 42.3% of GDP in 2010.
Inflation rate 9.4% 2010.
Exports – commodities: ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products. Exports – partners: Russia 24.1%, Turkey 5.9%, Italy 4.7% (2010). Imports – commodities: energy, machinery and equipment, chemicals. Imports – partners: Russia 33.9%, China 8.5%, Germany 8.1%, Poland 5.4%, Belarus 4.1% (2010).

Currency
Ukraine’s currency is the Hryvnia. U.S. dollars and Euros are also widely used. The hryvnia has been the national currency of Ukraine since September 2, 1996. The hryvnia is subdivided into 100 kopiyok.

National and religious holidays
In Ukraine there are many holidays. Here we listed only holidays which are official days-off in Ukraine.
January 1. New Year.
January 7. Orthodox Christmas.
March 8. International Women’s Day.
Easter Day comes according to the lunar calendar. It could fall on any Sunday in April or May.
May 1-2. Originally the Day of International Solidarity of Workers, it became just a holiday of spring though communists make their traditional demonstrations on that day.
May 9. The Victory Day. There is hardly a Russian family which would not suffer from Nazis in the Great Patriotic war 1941-1945.
August 24. Independence Day. In 1991 independence was proclaimed and Ukraine became a Sovereign state.
National symbol: trident (tryzub).

Bahrain 

General country information
Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of thePersian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family.
Bahrain is known for its oil and pearls. The Qal’at al-Bahrain (the harbour and capital of the ancient land of Dilmun) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Geography
Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands, the largest being Bahrain Island, at 55 km (34 mi) long by 18 km (11 mi) wide. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway. Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. The plannedQatar Bahrain Causeway will link Bahrain and Qatar and become the world’s longest marine causeway.
Bahrain has mild winters and very hot, humid summers. The country’s natural resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as fish in the offshore waters. Arable land constitutes only 2.82% of the total area.
92% of Bahrain is desert with periodic droughts and dust storms the main natural hazards for Bahrainis.
Due to the Persian Gulf area’s low moisture, summers are very hot and dry. The seas around Bahrain are very shallow, heating up quickly in the summer to produce high humidity, especially at night. Summer temperatures may reach more than 40 °C (104 °F) under the right conditions. Rainfall in Bahrain is minimal and irregular. Rainfalls mostly occur in winter, with a recorded maximum of 71.8 mm (2.83 in).

Time zone
Local time in Bahrain is 1 hour ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, at the north-eastern tip of the state.
The economy of Manama was traditionally based on pearling, fishing, boat building and trade. In 1932 the discovery of petroleum boosted the city’s economy, which has recently diversified into tourism and retail.

Population
In 2010, Bahrain’s population grew to 1.234 million, of which more than 666,172 (54%) were non-nationals, Though a majority of the population is ethnically Arab, a sizeable number of people from South Asia live in the country.
The official religion of Bahrain is Islam. However, due to an influx of immigrants and guest workers from non-Muslim countries, such as India, Philippines and Sri Lanka, the overall percentage of Muslims in the country has declined in recent years. According to the 2001 census, 81.2% of Bahrain’s population was Muslim, 9% were Christian, and 9.8% practised Hinduism or other religions.

Language
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain though English is widely used.

Economy
Bahrain has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world. Bahrain also has the freest economy in the Middle East and is tenth freest overall in the world based on the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom.
In 2008, Bahrain was named the world’s fastest growing financial center by the City of London’s Global Financial Centres Index. Bahrain’s banking and financial services sector, particularly Islamic banking, have benefited from the regional boom driven by demand for oil. In Bahrain, petroleum production and processing account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP.
Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of both oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems. In 2008, the jobless figure was at 4%.

Currency
The official currency is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), divided into 1,000 fils. Notes come in denominations of 20, 10, 5 and 1 dinars and 500 fils.

National holiday:
National Day, 16 December (1971) – the date of independence from British protection.

Iraq

Geography
Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert.
Total area of Iraq is 438,317 sq km. Iraq is bordered by Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline on the northern Persian Gulf.
The local climate is mostly desert, with mild to cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows
Iraq has strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf

Time zone
Local time in UAE is 1 hour ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040. It is the largest city in Iraq, located along the Tigris River.
The city was founded in the 8th century. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic World.
Throughout the High Middle Ages, Baghdad was considered to be the largest city in the world with an estimated population of 1,200,000 people. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258. With the recognition of Iraq as an independent state in 1938, Baghdad gradually regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arabic culture.
In recent years the city has been a frequent subject to insurgency activities and terrorist attacks.

Population
July 2011 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 31,234,000.
Around 75%–80% of Iraq’s population is Arab; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurds at 15%–20%, the Assyrians, the Iraqi Turkmen and others (5%), who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country.
Arabic and Kurdish are official languages. Aramaic and South Azeri are regional languages. English is the most commonly spoken European language.
Population living in urban areas was 66% of total population in 2010

Economy
An improved security environment and an initial wave of foreign investment are helping to spur economic activity, particularly in the energy, construction, and retail sectors. Broader economic improvement, long-term fiscal health, and sustained increases in the standard of living still depend on the government passing major policy reforms and on continued development of Iraq’s massive oil reserves.
Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides over 90% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings. Since mid-2009, oil export earnings have returned to levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom and government revenues have rebounded, along with global oil prices.
The Government of Iraq is pursuing a strategy to gain additional foreign investment in Iraq’s economy. Provincial Councils also are using their own budgets to promote and facilitate investment at the local level. However, widespread corruption, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient essential services, and antiquated commercial laws and regulations stifle investment and continue to constrain the growth of private, non-energy sectors.
The Central Bank has successfully held the exchange rate at approximately 1,170 Iraqi dinar/US dollar since January 2009. Inflation has decreased consistently since 2006 as the security situation has improved. Inflation rate was only 2.4% in 2010.
However, Iraqi leaders remain hard pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into improved lives for ordinary Iraqis. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country. Reducing corruption and implementing reforms – such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector – would be important steps in this direction. The big problem is high unemployment rate, which in 2009 amounted to 15.3%.
Exports – commodities are crude oil 84%, crude materials excluding fuels, food and live animals.
Exports – partners: US 24.3%, India 16.7%, China 12.1%, South Korea 8.2%, Italy 6.9%, Japan 6.6% (2010)
Imports – commodities are food, medicine, manufactures. Imports – partners: Turkey 24.2%, Syria 18.6%, China 14.4%, US 6.6% (2010)

Currency
The official currency is Iraqi dinar (IQD). It is issued by the Central Bank of Iraq and is subdivided into 1,000 fils, although inflation has rendered the fils obsolete.
One dinar is divided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of 50, 250, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 25,000 dinar. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils.

National holiday:
Republic Day, July 14 (1958)
National symbol: golden eagle.

Iran

General country information
Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Southern and Western Asia.It is theocratic republic. The name “Iran” has been in use natively and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia.
Iran is a regional power, and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas.
Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves and third in oil reserves. It is OPEC’s 2nd largest oil exporter and it has the potential to become an energy superpower. Iran is a founding member of the UN, NAM, OIC and OPEC.

Geography
Iran is the eighteenth largest country in the world with an area of 1,648,195 sq km.
Its borders are with Azerbaijan and Armenia to the north-west; the Caspian Sea to the north; Turkmenistan to the north-east; Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east; Turkey and Iraq to the west; and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south.
Iran’s climate is mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast. On the northern edge of the country (the Caspian coastal plain) temperatures rarely fall below freezing and the area remains humid for the rest of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29 °C
To the west, settlements in the Zagros basin experience lower temperatures, severe winters with below zero average daily temperatures and heavy snowfall. In southern Iran have mild winters, and very humid and hot summers.
Iran has strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport.

Time zone
Local time in Iran is 2,5 hours ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
Tehran is the capital, the country’s largest city and the political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the nation. Tehran has a population of 7,705,036. Tehran is home to around 11% of Iran’s population.

Population
Iran has a population of around 78 million.
Iran is a diverse country consisting of people of many religions and ethnic backgrounds cemented by the Persian culture. The majority of the population speaks the Persian language, which is also the official language of the country, as well as other Iranian languages or dialects. Azeri language is spoken in different areas in Iran. Additionally, Arabic is spoken in the southwestern parts of the country.
The exact ethnic breakdown of Iran is unknown as there are no official numbers, however some organizations have made estimates. The World Factbook released the estimate: Persian 61%, Azeri 16%, Kurd 10%, Lur 6%, Baloch 2%, Arab 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%, other 1%.
Iran has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world. From 1950 to 2010, the urban proportion of the population increased from 27% to 71%
Official religion is Muslim (98%). Other religions are Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian (2%).

Military
The Islamic Republic of Iran has two types of armed forces: the regular forces Islamic Republic of Iran Army, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, totaling about 545,000 active troops. Iran also has around 350,000 Reserve Force totaling around 900,000 trained troops. Iran has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force within the IRGC, called the Basij, which includes about 90,000 full-time, active-duty uniformed members. Up to 11 million men and women are members of the Basij who could potentially be called up for service.

Economy
The economy of Iran is the eighteenth largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity (PPP). Iran’s economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. Its economic infrastructure has been improving steadily over the past two decades but continues to be affected by inflation and unemployment.
Exports – commodities: petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets. Exports – partners: China 16.2%, India 12.6%, Japan 9.9%, Turkey 6.8%, South Korea 5.7%, Italy 5.3%
Imports – commodities: industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services. Imports – partners: China 17.4%, UAE 16.7%, Germany 7.6%, South Korea 6.3%, Russia 5.7%, Turkey 4.8%, Italy 4.2% (2010) Iran’s economy is marked by an inefficient state sector, reliance on the oil sector, which provides the majority of government revenues, and statist policies, which create major distortions throughout the system. Private sector activity is typically limited to small-scale workshops, farming, and services.
Inflation has fallen substantially since the mid-2000s, Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and underemployment. Underemployment among Iran’s educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant “brain drain.” In 2010 unemployment rate was 13.2% and inflation rate was 10.1%.
Public debt was 16.3% of GDP in 2010.

Currency
The official currency is the Iranian rials (IRR) which is fully convertible to the US dollar. Exchange rates: Iranian rials per US dollar – 10,308.2 (2010), 9,864.3 (2009).

National holiday:
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
The national symbol of Iran is lion.

Qatar

General country information
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterlycoast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island state of Bahrain.
Qatar became independent in 1971, and has become one of the region’s wealthiest states due to its enormous oil and natural gas revenues.
Qatar has the world’s largest per capita production and proven reserves of both oil and natural gas. In 2010, Qatar had the world’s highest GDP per capita, while the economy grew by 19.40%, the fastest in the world. The main drivers for this rapid growth are attributed to ongoing increases in production and exports of liquefied natural gas, oil, petrochemicals and related industries. Qatar has the second-highest human development in the Arab World after the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, Qatar was the United States’ fifth-largest export market in the Middle East, trailing.
Qatar was also an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is a member of the Arab League.

Geography
The Qatari peninsula juts 100 miles (161 km) north into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia.
Much of the country consists of a low plain, covered with sand. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.
Every day is sunny and hot in Qatar, and rain is a rare occurrence, the average annual precipitation (which falls during winter) being only three inches (80mm). In summer temperatures can get over 104°F (40°C). Winter days are only slightly cooler, but nights can be fairly cold.

Time zone
Local time in Iran is 1 hour ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
Doha is the beautiful capital of Qatar, located on the Persian Gulf. In 2006 the city hosted the world’s largest Asian Games yet, and has since continued to thrive. Doha has a very laid-back atmosphere
It is a cultural and commercial centre The Government House is one of the most prominent landmarks and the National Museum, housed in a splendid Arabian palace, was opened in 1975.
Doha’s modern seaport, airport and telephone links make it very accessible to visitors.
With the awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar, Doha is sure to become even more of a tourist haven, as infrastructure is improved and new tourist attractions are established.

Population
The total population was 1,692,262 in 2011. Out of the total population of approximately 1.5 million (May 2008 est.), the make up of ethnic groups is as follows: Qatari (Arab) 20%; other Arab 20%; Indian 20%; Filipino 10%; Nepali 13%; Pakistani 7%; Sri Lankan 5%; other 5%.
Islam is the predominant religion. According to the 2004 census, 77.5% of the population are Muslim, 8.5% are Christian and 14% are оther. The Christian population consists nearly completely of foreigners.

Language
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely used. Hindi, Urdu are widely spoken languages too.

Economy
Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years due to high oil prices. Economic policy is focused on increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for more than 50% of GDP; roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues.
Oil and gas have made Qatar one of the highest per-capita income countries, and one of the world’s fastest growing. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Qatar’s proved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic metres, about 14% of the world total and the third largest in the world.
Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. The discovery of oil, beginning in the 1940s, completely transformed the state’s economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living. 94% of its labour is carried out by foreigners.
Qataris’ wealth and standard of living compare well with those of Western European states; Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the Arab World, according to the International Monetary Fund (2010) and the CIA World Factbook. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world.
While oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar’s economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a “knowledge economy”.
The Qatari government hopes that large-scale investment in all social and economic sectors will lead to the development of a strong financial market.
Business hours are generally, 7.30am (or 8am) to 12pm, and then 3.30pm (or 4pm) to 7pm, from Saturday to Thursday. Friday is a day of rest.

Currency
The official currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR), which divides into 100 dirhams.

National and religious holidays
Qatar National Day on December 18 is the day Qatar celebrates their national identity and history.

Kuwait

The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state. The name Kuwait word-for-word is a fortress built near water.
The country has the world’s fifth largest oil reserves and petroleum products now account for nearly 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income.Kuwait is the eleventh richest country in the world per capita. In 2007, it had the highest human development index (HDI) in the Arab world.
Despite the turbulence of its recent history, Kuwait today is once again beginning to reflect its status as an oil-rich nation. In 1990 Iraq claimed Kuwait as its 19th province, but the Iraqis were expelled by a United States led alliance in a short war in 1991, and now the country is separated from its threatening neighbour by a wall along its border.

Geography
Kuwait is situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered bySaudi Arabia to the south, and Iraq to the north. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf.
Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 sq mi). The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait.
The spring season in March is warm and pleasant with occasional thunderstorms. The frequent winds from the northwest are cold in winter and spring and hot in summer. Southeasterly winds, usually hot and damp, spring up between July and October; hot and dry south winds prevail in spring and early summer. The shamal, a northwesterly wind common during June and July, causes sandstorms.
Kuwait enjoys a variable continental climate. Summer months are between June and October and the rainy season (if you can call it that) runs from December to February, when humidity can also be high. In summer temperatures can get over 100°F (38°C), but they drop below 70°F (21°C) in winter.

Time zone
Local time in Kuwait is 1 hour ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
Kuwait City is the country’s political and economic capital. It is located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbor. The city’s major landmark is the Kuwait Towers, visible from the harbour.

Population
As of 2007, Kuwait’s population was estimated to be 3 to 3.5 million people, which included approximately 2 million non-nationals. Kuwaiti citizens are therefore a minority of those who reside in Kuwait. The government rarely grants citizenship to foreigners. In 2008, 68.4% of the population consisted of expatriates. The net migration rate of the country stood at 16.01, the third highest in the world.
About 57% of the population in Kuwait is Arab, 39% Asian.
About 85% of the population in Kuwait identify themselves as Muslims. Despite Islam being the state religion,Kuwait has a large community of Christians(est. 300,000 to 400,000), Hindus (est. 300,000), Buddhists (est. 100,000), and Sikhs (est. 10,000).

Language
Kuwait’s official language is Modern Standard Arabic. English is widely understood and often used as a business language.

Economy
According to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Kuwait has the second-most free economy in the Middle East. The Kuwait Stock Exchange, which has about 200 firms listed, is the second-largeststock exchange in the Arab world with a total market capitalization of US$235 billion.In 2007, the Kuwaiti government posted a budget surplus of US$43 billion.
Kuwait has a proven crude oil reserves of 104 billion barrels (15 km³), estimated to be 10% of the world’s reserves. According to the Kuwaiti constitution, all natural resources in the country and associated revenues are government property. Being a tax-free country, Kuwait’s oil industry accounts for 80% of government revenue. Petroleum and petrochemicals accounts for nearly half of GDP and 95% of export revenues. Increase in oil prices since 2003 resulted in a surge in Kuwait’s economy.
Kuwait’s current oil production of 2.8 million bpd is expected to increase to 4 million bpd by 2020. However, the country’s economy was badly affected by the global financial crisis of 2008.
Other major industries include shipping, construction, cement, water desalination, construction materials and financial services.Kuwait has a well developed banking system. Founded in 1952, the National Bank of Kuwait is the largest bank in the country and one of the largest in the Arab world.
Kuwait’s climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. The government is keen on decreasing Kuwait’s dependence on oil to fuel its economy by transforming it into a regional trading and tourism hub.
Kuwait imports a wide range of products ranging from food products and textiles to machinery. Kuwait’s most important trading partners are Japan, United States, India, South Korea, Singapore, China, European Union, Saudi Arabia. Japan is the largest customer of Kuwaiti oil followed by India, Singapore and South Korea.
The working week runs from Saturday to Wednesday, often with some non-government businesses working from Sunday to Thursday. Business hours vary, but are usually from 7am to 1pm and 4pm to 10pm. Government offices and banks are usually open from 8am to 2pm.

Currency
Kuwait’s currency is the Kuwait Dinar (KWD), which is divided into 1,000 fils. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques. Currency and travellers cheques are best taken in US Dollars or British Pounds.

National and religious holidays
Each year, the people of Kuwait celebrate 25th and 26 February, as the national and liberation day respectively.
National symbol golden falcon

Saudi Arabia

General country information
Saudi Arabia has the world’s second largest oil reserves and is the world’s second largest oil exporter. Oil accounts for more than 90% of exports and nearly 75% of government revenues, facilitating the creation of a welfare state.

Geography
Occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is bordered by no fewer than eight Middle-Eastern states. It is bordered by Jordan, and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south.The Red Sea lies to its west, and the Persian Gulf lies to the northeast. Saudi Arabia has an area of approximately 2,149,690 km2 (830,000 sq mi).
Saudi Arabia’s geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert and associated semi-desert and shrubland. There are virtually no permanent rivers or lakes in the country.
Except for the south western province of Asir, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with extremely high day-time temperatures and a sharp temperature drop at night. Average summer temperatures are around 45 °C, but can be as high as 54 °C. In the winter the temperature rarely drops below 0 °C. The Asir region differs in that it is influenced by the Indian Ocean monsoons. The Red Sea coast has high humidity and high temperatures all year round. Rainfall is a rarity, and severe dust storms occur.

Time zone
Local time in Saudi Arabian is 1 hour ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
The Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, is one of the most splendid and affluent cities in the modern world.
Riyadh is a true oasis in the Saudi Arabian desert. Modern Riyadh has retained its ancient heritage.
In between the towering, futuristic buildings, glitzy shopping malls and broad, sweeping highways are nestled ancient mosques and other remnants of times gone by, shady trees and date palms line the avenues. The city is also run on a strictly Islamic moral and cultural code, and visitors should respect the rules while exploring the sights, both ancient and modern. Women have restricted access to certain attractions and sites.

Population
Saudi Arabia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It has an estimated population of 27 million, of which 8.8 million are registered foreign expatriates and an estimated 1.5 million are illegal immigrants. Saudi nationals comprise an estimated 16 million people.
About 31% of the population is made up of foreign nationals living in Saudi Arabia: Indian – 1.1 million, Pakistani – 1 million, Bangladeshi – 500,000, Filipino – 500,000, Egyptian – 800,000, Yemeni – 800,000, Sri Lankan – 350,000,and others. There are around 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in compounds or gated communities.
There are about 25 million people who are Muslim, or 97% of the total population.

Language
Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia, but English is widely understood.

Economy
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 20% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves. Saudi Arabia ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Diversification efforts are focusing on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors.
Almost 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors, while Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has begun establishing six “economic cities” in different regions of the country to promote foreign investment and plans to spend $373 billion between 2010 and 2014 on social development and infrastructure projects to advance Saudi Arabia’s economic development.
Oil price increases of 2008–2009 have triggered a second oil boom, pushing Saudi Arabia’s budget surplus to $28 billion (110SR billion) in 2005.
Saudi Arabia is one of only a few fast-growing countries in the world with a relatively high per capita income of $24,200 (2010).
Hours of business are generally from 8am to 12pm, and then 3pm to 6pm, from Saturday to Thursday. Friday is a day of rest.

Currency
The Saudi currency is the Riyal (SAR), divided into 100 halala.

National holiday:
Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932).
National symbol: palm tree surmounting two crossed swords.

Oman

General country information
Oman is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Oman has long-standing military and political ties with theUnited Kingdom and the United States, although it maintains an independent foreign policy.
Oman is an absolute monarchy in which the Sultan of Oman exercises ultimate authority but its parliament has some legislative and oversight powers. According to international indices, Oman is one of the most developed and stable countries in the Arab World.

Geography
It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates(UAE) to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast.
A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast.
Oman’s climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast.
Oman has very little rainfall. Annual rainfall in Muscat averages 100 mm (3.9 in), falling mostly in January. The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching around50 °C (122.0 °F) in the hot season, from May to September.
А monsoon season between June and September when heavy rains fall. The best time to visit Oman is between late September and early April, when daytime temperatures are not too savage.

Time zone
Local time in Oman is 2 hours ahead of Kiev time.

Capital
The capital city of Oman is Muscat. Making responsible use of oil revenue, Muscat has taken on the veneer of a prosperous modern Arab city without losing its old world charm and heritage. It features forts, palaces and other historic sites of interest to visitors, as well as an exciting traditional souq (bazaar) and some stunning long sandy beaches.

Population
According to the 2010 census, the total population was 2.773 million. Of those, 1.96 million were Omanis. The population has grown from 2.340 million in the 2003 census to 2.773 million in the 2010 census.
The Oman government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation, but most citizens are Muslims. Non-Muslim religious communities individually constitute less than 5 percent of the population and include various groups of Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Christians.

Language
The official language of Oman is Arabic, but English is widely spoken. Hotel staff often also speak German and French.

Economy
Omani citizens enjoy good living standards, but the future is uncertain with Oman’s limited oil reserves.Other sources of income, agriculture and industry, are small in comparison and count for less than 1% of the country’s exports, but diversification is seen as a priority in the government of Oman. But Oman is likely to remain a net importer of food.
Since the slump in oil prices in 1998, Oman has made active plans to diversify its economy and is placing a greater emphasis on other areas of industry, such as tourism.
Oman’s proved reserves of petroleum total about 5.5 billion barrels, 24th largest in the world. Oil production has been declining. In 2009, production was estimated at 816,000 barrels per day.
Commercial export of oil began in 1967. In June 1999, a new oil field was discovered in southern Oman after drilling and testing three wells which demonstrated the commercial viability of the reservoir.
Oman’s natural gas reserves are estimated at 849.5 billion cubic meters, ranking 28th in the world, and production in 2008 was about 24 billion cubic meters per year.
As oil prices have risen to a record high, so has inflation. The government depends mostly on oil revenue. The government is also Oman’s largest employer. The government did support the fuel prices so it doesn’t increase the inflation and to make the price suitable for people on low wages.
In February 2011, the minimum wage was increased from 140 Rials per month to 200 Rials per month.
The working week is normally from Saturday to Wednesday, with some businesses open on Thursday mornings, and hours can vary. Most businesses are open from 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm.

Currency
The currency of Oman is the Omani Rial (OMR) divided into 1,000 baisa. Notes come in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 rials, and 500, 250, 200 and 100 baiza.

National holiday:
Birthday of Sultan QABOOS, 18 November (1940)
National symbol – Khanjar dagger superimposed on two crossed swords.

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