United Arab Emirates
Population: 8,264,070 (est.)
Capital: Abu Dhabi
- The United Arab Emirates dirham is the official currency of the UAE.
- Islam is the largest and the official state religion of the UAE, though the government follows a policy of tolerance toward other religions and rarely interferes in the activities of non-Muslims.
- Before 1971, UAE was known as Trucial States.
- The tallest building in the world is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is an Arab country in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran. The UAE is a federation of seven emirates (equivalent to principalities), each governed by a hereditary emir, with a single national president. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The capital is Abu Dhabi, which is also the state’s center of political, industrial, and cultural activities.
Prior to independence in 1971, the UAE was known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, in reference to a 19th-century truce between the local sheikhs, hereditary rulers of the territories, and the United Kingdom.
The UAE is a Federal Monarchy and the political system is based on its 1971 Constitution, which is composed of several intricately connected governing bodies. As a federation of seven monarchies, whose rulers retain absolute power within their emirates, but with a UAE president, it is neither a constitutional monarchy nor a republic. The emirs choose one of their members to be the president of the federation, but this does not alter the monarchical character of the government of the individual emirates. The constitution is concerned solely with the relations between the emirates as members of the federation, and does not prescribe a constitutional system of government. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and Arabic is the official language.
Before oil was discovered in the 1950s the UAE’s economy was dependent on fishing and a declining pearl industry. But since 1962, when Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil, the country’s society and economy have been transformed from a quiet backwater to one of the Middle East‘s most important economic centres. UAE oil reserves are ranked as the world’s seventh-largest. It also possesses the world’s seventh largest reserves natural gas resources and it is one of the most developed economies in Western Asia.
The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE at its inception, was quick to seize on the potential of the oil industry. He oversaw the development of all the emirates and directed oil revenues into healthcare, education and the national infrastructure. Per capita income is the world’s seventh-highest. The country has been classified as a high-income developing economy by the IMF. The oil industry has attracted a large influx of foreign workers who, together with expatriates, now make up more than three quarters of the population.