Uncover the United Arab Emirates’ history of exploration, innovation and tolerance in this enlightening docuseries.

What was the United Arab Emirates before it became the powerhouse region we know today? What were the events that transpired before it boomed to become a global hub of innovation? Uncover the answers to these and even more intriguing questions in the informative and entertaining docuseries, The History of the Emirates.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons and produced by BAFTA-winning Atlantic Productions, the five-part series uses state-of-the-art CGI technology, 360-degree camerawork and incredible archaeological footage to depict the ancient history and the rich heritage of the UAE over 125,000 years, culminating with the formation of the union in 1971.

The documentary spans from ancient archaeological discoveries to cutting-edge technological advances, shining a light on our remarkable heritage. In fact, a preview of the documentary’s immersive content premiered with a light show at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in November 2019.

An untold story

The first episode, Society, opens the UAE’s story 125,000 years ago, following the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the birth of civilisations, as well as the beginning of the majlis system of consultation-driven governance and the UAE’s enduring belief in equality.

In episode two, Innovation, the documentary highlights how relentless innovation in fishing, farming and governance has helped the people of the UAE endure one of the world’s harshest climates for millennia.

Throughout the Trade episode, viewers see how the Emirates has been a focal point for people from across the globe for centuries, from ancient trading routes across Mleiha and Ed Dur to the modern shipping and aerial networks of the UAE.

Episode four, Belief, explores ancient Neolithic burial practices, evidence of snake-cults and sun temple ruins, while archaeological evidence reveals that the people here have always treasured the community above the individual. The episode demonstrates the UAE’s role as a beacon of peaceful co-existence, looking at the rise of Islam alongside other religious practices, such as the Christian monastery of Sir Bani Yas.

Titled Unity, the last episode will highlight the historic trend towards unity in the UAE. The documentary concludes with the origins and stories of the proud tribes of the nation over the past 200 years, and how they have adapted, evolved and eventually unified to form the United Arab Emirates in 1971.

A moment in history

During an exclusive screening of the docuseries at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC recently, UAE Embassy Head of Cultural Diplomacy Dana Al Marashi said the docuseries is a very special production that highlights the extraordinary journey UAE residents have made. “Our story spans thousands of years, from humble beginnings, to the union of seven emirates just under 50 years ago, to the ultra-modern nation we are today, leading the way in education, culture and innovation, including our own endeavors into space,” she said.

Also speaking at the exclusive screening, Sharjah Archeology Authority Director of the Department of Excavation and Archeological Sites, Eissa Yousef, said the documentary is an important milestone for the UAE. “It brings our remarkable and diverse past to life through archaeological discoveries from some of the region’s most historic sites. Showing the series globally will introduce viewers to the story of unseen civilizations in never-before-seen detail, and will help us share the UAE’s message of tolerance with the world.”

History of the Emirates starts Wednesday 4 December 2019 on National Geographic (181) at 19:00.