Objectives: To determine the median age of natural menopause in United Arab Emirates women, the factors affecting that age and the prevalence of climacteric symptoms amongst those women. Methods: A population-based survey was conducted on a community sample of United Arab Emirates women who had had natural menopause defined as cessation of menstruation for at least 6 months at the end of reproductive years. A total of 742 women aged 40 years and above were recruited from both urban and rural areas of the country using the multi-stage stratified cluster sampling technique. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and face to face interviews and included a number of familial, reproductive and life-style variables. Results: The median age of the menopause in the United Arab Emirates is 48 years (mean = 47.3 +/- 3.29, range 40-59). This is significantly lower than the median age reported from the West (50.3 years). The subject median age of the menopause was significantly related to that of the mother (P < 0.001), older sister (P < 0.001), parity (P < 0.0001) and the previous use of oral contraceptive pills for more than 1 year (P < 0.001). Hot flushes were the commonest feature of the menopause occurring in 45% of women. Conclusion: The age of natural menopause in United Arab Emirates women, as in other developing countries, is less than in Western women and may be influenced by genetic factors, parity and previous use of oral contraceptives. Climacteric symptomatology, however, is similar in the different patient groups. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.