|General background: The Trucial States of the
Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense
and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971,
six of these states - Abu Zaby, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah,
Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to
form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined
in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP
is not far below those of leading West European nations.
Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign
policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role
in the affairs of the region.
Slightly smaller than Maine.
Desert; cooler in eastern mountains.
Flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand
dunes of vast desert wasteland; mountains in east.
Ethnic groups: Emirati 19%, other Arab and
Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes
Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)
Religions: Muslim 96% (Shi'a 16%), Christian,
Hindu, and other 4%
Language: Arabic (official), Persian, English,
Government type: Federation with specified
powers delegated to the UAE federal government and
other powers reserved to member emirates.
Capital: Abu Dhabi
Legal system: Federal court system introduced
in 1971; all emirates except Dubayy (Dubai) and Ra's
al Khaymah have joined the federal system; all emirates
have secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal,
and high courts.
Economic overview: The UAE has an open economy
with a high per capita income and a sizable annual
trade surplus. Its wealth is based on oil and gas
output (about 33% of GDP), and the fortunes of the
economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities.
Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation
from an impoverished region of small desert principalities
to a modern state with a high standard of living.
At present levels of production, oil and gas reserves
should last for more than 100 years. The government
has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure
expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater
private sector involvement.
Communication/Telephone system: Modern system.
Places of interest: It boasts mountains, beaches,
deserts, oases, camel racing and much, much more.
Travel tips: Although the Emirates are considered
safe and secure for travelers, demonstrations and
political gatherings are best avoided.