The UAE’s rich history is rooted in trade and tied to Islam, which came to the region in AD 630. For centuries, the region was home to small fishing towns and a nomadic Bedouin people. Eventually, its location between Europe and the Far East attracted merchants from India and China and was prized by Europeans. And over time, cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai became large trading hubs. In the 19th and early 20th century many inhabitants were semi-nomadic, pearling in the summer and tending date gardens in the winter for trade. Today, the seven Emirates have forged a distinct national identity combining the traditional with the modern.