Saudi Arabia vs UAE: Difference and Comparison

Most people get confused between Saudi Arabia and UAE, but they are different.

However, people living in these countries may seem quite similar because they have almost similar cultures, which is one reason most people get confused.

Knowing the difference between Saudi Arabia and UAE is important because you can be asked a question.

Both these countries are well-known middle-east countries and are one of the most famous tourist attractions all over the world. It is a dream for most people to visit these countries once in their life.

Saudi Arabia and UAE are Muslim countries and have two of the world’s most famous modern cities: Dubai in UAE and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Key Takeaways

  1. Saudi Arabia and UAE are both Arab countries in the Middle East, but Saudi Arabia is larger and more populous than the UAE.
  2. Saudi Arabia is known for its conservative religious traditions and has a more centralized government system, while UAE is more liberal and has a federal government with a constitutional monarchy.
  3. While both countries have significant oil reserves and are members of OPEC, UAE has been more successful in diversifying its economy and investing in tourism, real estate, and technology sectors.

Saudi Arabia vs. UAE

Saudi Arabia is larger in land area and has a larger population; it is an absolute monarchy with big oil reserves. UAE is known for its economic diversity, tourism, trade, and finance; UAE is a federation of seven emirates with a constitutional monarchy system.

Saudi Arabia vs UAE
/10

Travel Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to travel

1 / 10

What is the most popular tourist attraction in Egypt?

2 / 10

Hawaii islands is included in

3 / 10

Which is an alternative term for backpacking?

4 / 10

What is the capital of Italy?

5 / 10

What is the tallest building in the world?

6 / 10

What is the capital of Spain?

7 / 10

What is the largest ocean in the world?

8 / 10

What is the currency used in Germany?

9 / 10

What is the capital of France?

10 / 10

Which Indian hill station in India is known as the “Queen of the Hills”?

Your score is

0%

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSaudi ArabiaUAE
CapitalRiyadAbu Dhabi
Area2,149,690 sq km83,600 sq km
Religion followedIslamicIslamic
Official LanguageArabicArabic
CurrencySaudi RiyalUAE Dirham
Population3.43 crores97.7 lakhs

What is Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is one of the most famous middle-east countries in the world.

There is not a single person who does not know about the country of Saudi Arabia. One of the countries famous for its Islamic culture with the capital city of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and UAE (United Arab Emirates) are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The GCC is an economic and political alliance that was established in the capital city of Saudi Arabia along with several other middle-east countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.

The alliance was created so that everyone or every country in it had the same goals, like promoting common identities based on the principles of Islamic religious beliefs.

However, these two countries were not similar but varied in different parameters.

There were only some differences between these two countries, but most of the other things were the same, like both the people of the countries spoke the same language and followed the same religion.

Saudi Arabia is famous for its well-known city Jeddah, a world-famous tourist attraction. Saudi is one of the strongest economic countries among its neighbours.

The country is famous for its oil-based economy and is the largest petroleum exporter. Saudi Arabia owns around 16% of the world’s petroleum reserves.

Well, one can say that petroleum is one of the products that counts in the country’s economy because it accounts for 87% of all budget revenues, with export earnings of 90%.

The Salman of Saudi Arabia is the ruler of this famous country.

He plans to adopt new policies where more and more private investments will be taking place in the private sector, reduction in unemployment, targeting youth employment, and investment in the tourism industry.

The country’s national flag has been designed with a deep green color, with something written in Arabic on the center of the flag.

Saudi Arabia’s Regional Influence

Saudi Arabia has traditionally held a significant role in the Middle East due to its vast oil reserves and custodianship of Islam’s holy sites, Mecca and Medina. The kingdom has been a key player in shaping regional policies, particularly in maintaining stability in oil markets and promoting Sunni Islamic influence. For example, Saudi Arabia has been a driving force behind OPEC’s oil production policies, which is critical in determining global oil prices.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has sought to assert itself as a major regional power, undertaking ambitious economic and social reforms as part of its Vision 2030 plan. The kingdom has also ramped up its military engagements, most notably intervening in the civil war in Yemen and taking a hard stance against its regional rival, Iran.

Societal Norms in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, you will find that the social structure is more conservative and centralized. The Kingdom follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law, which significantly impacts daily life and societal norms. As a result, aspects such as dress codes and gender segregation are prominent.

For example, women must wear an abaya (a loose-fitting, full-length cloak) in public and cover their faces with a niqab. Moreover, the society follows a patriarchal structure where men hold more power in decision-making, and the concept of male guardianship plays a crucial role.

Although the country is undergoing some modernization and loosening strict social norms, it is essential to be aware of these cultural practices and respect them while visiting or living in Saudi Arabia.

saudi arabia

What is United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

The United Arab Emirates, aka UAE, is another major middle-east country with the capital city of Abu Dhabi.

UAE is much more modernized and progressive than Saudi Arabia, with one of the most famous cities, Dubai being their most attractive tourist attraction.

Last year Dubai hosted the famous cricket league IPL (Indian Premier League) because people could have never thought of an alternative city to Dubai for conducting cricket matches.

Other than that, UAE, too, had a history because the country had unified much later than Saudi Arabia.

It was in the year 1971 when UAE was unified. UAE too is also famous for oil.

The country is famous because they are one of the major contributors to oil worldwide. Similar to Saudi Arabia, UAE also has a similar oil-based economy.

UAE also has certain economic plans, like expanding its infrastructure, encouraging privatization, encouraging foreign investors to invest, promoting tourism, creating job opportunities, and many more.

However, since they are countries with rich cultures and values, they also have certain restrictions made for women.

Women are not allowed to drive cars; they are not allowed to play sports freely, and many others.

UAE’s Regional Influence

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may not possess the same vast oil reserves as Saudi Arabia, it has rapidly emerged as a significant regional player in recent years. The country has leveraged its strategic position as a global transit hub and financial center, pursuing an active foreign policy, in partnership with Saudi Arabia. The UAE has taken a central role in coalition efforts in Yemen and engaging in broader geopolitical goals in the region.

However, the UAE has also started to chart its own course, seeking to extend its influence beyond the Gulf. This includes establishing commercial ports and military outposts on Africa’s Red Sea coast and engaging with regional powers to mediate conflicts and promote stability. This has sometimes led to competition with Saudi Arabia in pursuit of regional dominance, as both countries seek to establish themselves as key players on the Middle Eastern stage.

UAE’s Regional Influence

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may not possess the same vast oil reserves as Saudi Arabia, it has rapidly emerged as a significant regional player in recent years. The country has leveraged its strategic position as a global transit hub and financial center, pursuing an active foreign policy, in partnership with Saudi Arabia. The UAE has taken a central role in coalition efforts in Yemen and engaging in broader geopolitical goals in the region.

However, the UAE has also started to chart its own course, seeking to extend its influence beyond the Gulf. This includes establishing commercial ports and military outposts on Africa’s Red Sea coast and engaging with regional powers to mediate conflicts and promote stability. This has sometimes led to competition with Saudi Arabia in pursuit of regional dominance, as both countries seek to establish themselves as key players on the Middle Eastern stage.

Societal Norms in UAE

Contrastingly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents a more multicultural and diverse society. The country’s social norms are relatively more liberal than Saudi Arabia’s, especially in cosmopolitan cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While traditional customs still hold significance, the UAE offers a more progressive environment.

In the UAE, women have more freedom regarding the dress code and can choose whether or not to wear the abaya. Also, the concept of male guardianship is not as prevalent. Nevertheless, it is still recommended to dress modestly out of respect for the local customs.

Furthermore, the UAE’s significant expatriate population has contributed to the growth of cultural diversity and a more inclusive society. As a result, the social structure may feel more familiar and welcoming to visitors and residents from various backgrounds.

united arab emirates

Main Difference Between Saudi Arabia and UAE (United Arab Emirates)

  1. Both Saudi Arabia and UAE (United Arab Emirates) are middle-east countries that have almost similar or the same cultures.
  2. These countries follow the same religion, which is Islamic, and also speak the same language, which is Arabic.
  3. The currency of Saudi Arabia is Saudi Riyal and the currency of UAE is UAE Dirham.
  4. Both these countries have the same official language, which is the Arabic language.
  5. UAE is much more modernized and progressive than Saudi Arabia.
  6. Both these countries have famous cities, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in UAE.

Relationship History

Past Conflicts

Over the years, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced its share of challenges. In the past, you might remember that relations were complicated by the tenure of Muhammad bin Nayef as Saudi Crown Prince. This is because he had a poor relationship with the UAE’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The latter even compared the former’s father to an ape, which strained their countries’ relations for a while.

Current Relations

In recent times, you would have noticed that the once closely coordinated and tightly knit Saudi-Emirati relationship has been fraying. A cascade of policy divergences has emerged between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which has resulted in increasing tensions between these two powerful Gulf allies.

One contributing factor to this rivalry is their differing approaches to climate action and interventions in regional conflicts. While they still share many common goals and maintain alliances with the United States, the growing divide between Saudi Arabia and the UAE signals a return to the status quo in the Persian Gulf region.

Difference Between Saudi Arabia and UAE
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03932729.2017.1309101
  2. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/GM-11-2017-0151/full/html

Last Updated : 11 September, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!