Language, Culture, Religion & Law
The official language of the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and is commonly used in conjunction with Arabic.
The following paragraph is the same as the section under Religion as the Islamic religion is the 'Culture' of the UAE.
Islam is the official religion in the UAE. There is no separation of the sacred from the secular, as Islam is a way of life for Muslims and it is something that you will have to get used to. Probably the first thing you will notice is the call of the prayer. This is a short verse sung by the 'Imam' from the mosque, which begins with "Allah Akbar", or "God is the greatest". You will hear it 5 times a day (once at dawn). All Muslims will then stop work, wash themselves ritually, and face Mecca to pray.
The loudspeakers of most mosques will call the faithful to each prayer time. New expatriates searching for accommodation near a mosque should bear the certainty of the dawn and other calls to prayer in mind when you are deciding where to live.
There are 3 courts in the UAE: the Shariah, Criminal and Civil Court.
Shariah law is based on the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Mohamed *(PBUH). Crimes are referred to a Public Prosecutor who decides whether the case should be adjudicated before a Shariah Court or a Criminal Court. Generally, Muslims are sent before the Shariah court, while expats, depending on the nature of the offense, are referred to Criminal Court. The Civil Court is for general cases (unpaid house rents, bouncing cheques, etc), however these cases can be referred to the Shariah Court.
*(PBUH) stands for Peace Be Upon Him - you will often find this written when Prophet Mohamed's name is mentioned.