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General Information

Historical Background

Increasing British involvement in India beginning in the late eighteenth century quickened British interest in the gulf region as a means of protecting the sea routes to India. 

The 'Qasimis', who amassed a fleet of about 900 vessels, demanded tribute for the passage of merchant vessels and were regarded as pirates by the Europeans.

Between 1809 and 1820, British sea power gradually brought about the destruction of the 'Qasimis' fleet. The British defeated the 'Qasimis' in 1819, burning their ships and the town of Ras al Khaimah. This in turn led to the signing of agreements with Britain by the 'Qasimis' and other Sheikhs. (More information on History Page)

When Britain announced that it would withdraw from the Persian Gulf, the Foreign Office assumed that the UAE would include the Trucial Coast as well as Qatar and Bahrain. Those later two emirates, however, refused to join the UAE and became independent states when Britain left in 1971. 

Ras al-Khaimah also sought independence, but it lacked the resources and the international support to survive on its own. (It joined the federation in 1972.) 

The UAE was formed out by its member emirates in 02 December 1971, under President Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi (06 August 1966 - 02 Nov. 2004).

Today the UAE is composed of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm al-Qaiwan and Ajman. (
Link To The Supreme Council - Ruling Members)

Unlike any other Middle Eastern state, the United Arab Emirates is a federation, consisting of seven tribally-based (The UAE has six principal tribes spread throughout the federation: the Bani Yas, the Manasir, the Qasimi, the Al Ali, the Sharqi-yin and the Nu'aim.) emirates that controls the southeastern portion of the Arabian peninsula south of Bahrain and Qatar. 


The federation covers 82,880 square kilometers and is bordered on the north by the Persian Gulf and Iran, on the east by Oman, and on the south and west by Saudi Arabia. 

The UAE also separates Oman from its territory on the Musandam peninsula and extends 90 kilometers along the Gulf of Oman, an area known as the al-Batinah coast. 

Most of the federation is arid desert and salt flats, but there are mountains in the northeast that rise to 1,200 meters. Rainfall is very low and there are few fertile areas except in the north and among the oasis.


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 over 100 years. Despite higher oil revenues in 1999, the government has not drawn back from the economic reforms implemented during the 1998 oil price depression. 

The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater private-sector involvement. More at:
The Economy

The Population

Almost all of the seven emirates 2.4 million citizens (including non-nationals) live in communities that straddle its 650- kilometer Persian Gulf coastline. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah collectively govern 85% of the population. 

Close to 80% of the population is comprised of expatriate nationals and nearly 66% of the population is male. South Asians, mainly Indians and Pakistanis, make up 45% of the population. 

The next three largest expatriate ethnic groups are Iranians (17%), Arabs from other parts of the Middle East (13%) and Westerners (5%). Virtually all of the federation's Iranians and the Shias (16%) live in Dubai.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) 
(Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah)

Location : Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Area: 82,880 sq km (Federation consisting of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ajman, and Fujairah - former Trucial States).
Population: 2,369,153 (July 2000 Estimate.), (Includes 1,576,472 Non-Nationals)
Head of Government: President H.H. Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Legal System: Federal court system introduced in 1971; all emirates except Dubai and Ras al Khaimah have joined the federal system; all emirates have secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts. More at:
The Judicial System in the UAE

Capital: Abu Dhabi
Religion: Islam
Independence: 2 December 1971 (from UK) 
Languages: Arabic (official), Persian, English
Ethnic Groups: Emiri, Iranian, South Asian
Land boundaries: Total: 867 km
Border Countries: Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km 

Coastline: 1,318 km 
Elevation: highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m 

Natural resources: Petroleum, Natural Gas 
Literacy: Total population: 79.2%, Male: 78.9%, Female: 79.8% (1995 est.)
Currency: 1 UAE Dirham (Dh)=100 fils
Exchange Rate: 3.6725 Dh = US$1
Total GDP: $41.5 billion (1999 est.)
Per Capita PPP: $17,700
Exports: $38 billion
Crude oil 45%, natural gas, re-exports, dried fish, and dates 
Japan 30%, South Korea 10%, India 6%, Singapore 4.5%, Oman 3%, Iran (1998) 
Imports: $29.7 billion
Machinery and Transport equipment, Chemicals, Food 
US 10%, Japan 9%, UK 9%, Germany 6%, South Korea 5%, Italy (1998) 

Climate: The months from May to October are hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to 48 degrees centigrade and humidity up to 90% November to April are pleasant months with temperatures ranging from 14-25 degrees centigrade.


Abu Dhabi International Airport - 30 kms from the city  

Dubai International Airport -
3 miles south-east of the city
Fujairah -
International Airport 

Ras Al Khaimah International Airport -
15 miles from city centre 

Sharjah International Airport -
10 kms from Sharjah 

The largest commercial port in the UAE is Dubai’s Port Rashid. Mina Jebel Ali is the nucleus of the huge Jebel Ali Industrial Complex. Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Dry Dock, Mina Saqr at Ras Al Khaimah and Port Khalid at Sharjah, Sharjah’s second new port at Khor Fakkan & Port of Fujairah are all modern well equipped seaports.

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a thicker vertical red band on the hoist side. Map
& Flag






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