The economy of the UAE was traditionally linked to agriculture, raising livestock, fishing and pearling. With the discovery of oil in the 1960s, the country's economy changed dramatically. Because of the oil industry, Emiratis have high levels of income compared to other countries.

 The country's economy has diversified since the 1960s. Today, the oil industry no longer completely dominates the economy. Manufacturing, banking and real estate have also become important. With its strategic location, modern communication facilities, seaports and airports, as well as a strong banking system, the UAE has become a major economic centre in the Gulf region. International trade is encouraged and there are no taxes. Tourism is growing in importance. 

In the oases, crops have been grown for more than 5,000 years. The government has invested in irrigation projects to help agriculture thrive. The UAE can now satisfy most of its own demands for fruits and vegetables. The main crops are tomatoes, melons and dates. Produce is often sold in souks, traditional markets where different kinds of merchants cluster together to sell their products. Although there are modern shops in the Emirates, many shoppers still head to the fish souk or the spice souk to buy food.
 Did you know? 
Strikes and labour unions are illegal in the Emirates.
Fishing has been an important source of income for centuries. The UAE exports dried fish. Pearls obtained from cultured pearl oysters are also harvested along the coast.

 Because of the rapid growth of the country's economy, the existing population cannot meet the demand for labour. People from other countries come to work in the Emirates.

 Today, about 80% of the population and more than 90% of the workforce is made up of expatriates. Most are from India, Pakistan and other Asian countries. Others come from other Arab countries, Europe and North America. Emirati nationals usually work as senior employees in government-related departments and organizations. A significant effort is being made to train Emiratis to fill essential positions in the country's economy. 

Educated women have had a significant impact on the employment market. Most women are employed by the government, and now make up about 40% of its employees. Some traditional Emiratis are opposed to women working, while others will permit them to work only in jobs where they do not come into contact with men. These attitudes are rapidly changing. 
 Did you know? 
The containers used to store oil are called khazzans. Each is big enough to cover a 15-storey building and holds 75 million litres of oil.