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Fine-Scale Genetic Structure in the United Arab Emirates Reflects Endogamous and Consanguineous Culture, Population History, and Geography

Elliott, Katherine S and Haber, Marc and Daggag, Hinda and Busby, George B and Sarwar, Rizwan and Kennet, Derek and Petraglia, Michael and Petherbridge, Lawrence J and Yavari, Parisa and Heard-Bey, Frauke U and Shobi, Bindu and Ghulam, Tariq and Haj, Dalia and Al Tikriti, Alia and Mohammad, Alshafi and Antony, Suma and Alyileili, Maitha and Alaydaroos, Shatha and Lau, Evelyn and Butler, Mark and Yavari, Arash and Knight, Julian C and Ashrafian, Houman and Barakat, Maha T (2022) 'Fine-Scale Genetic Structure in the United Arab Emirates Reflects Endogamous and Consanguineous Culture, Population History, and Geography.', Molecular Biology and Evolution, 39 (3).


The indigenous population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a unique demographic and cultural history. Its tradition of endogamy and consanguinity is expected to produce genetic homogeneity and partitioning of gene pools while population movements and intercontinental trade are likely to have contributed to genetic diversity. Emiratis and neighboring populations of the Middle East have been underrepresented in the population genetics literature with few studies covering the broader genetic history of the Arabian Peninsula. Here, we genotyped 1,198 individuals from the seven Emirates using 1.7 million markers and by employing haplotype-based algorithms and admixture analyses, we reveal the fine-scale genetic structure of the Emirati population. Shared ancestry and gene flow with neighboring populations display their unique geographic position while increased intra- versus inter-Emirati kinship and sharing of uniparental haplogroups, reflect the endogamous and consanguineous cultural traditions of the Emirates and their tribes.

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Publisher statement:This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 May 2022
Date of first online publication:22 February 2022
Date first made open access:25 May 2022

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