The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven sheikhdoms located in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Bordered by the Sultanate of Oman and the Gulf of Oman to the east, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and by the Arabian Gulf to the north, the total land area, including 20 islands, is 83,000 sq km (32,278 sq mi). The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. The capital and the largest city of the federation, Abu Dhabi, is located in the emirate of the same name.
The estimated population of the UAE was 5.6 million in 2007. Arabic is the official language and Islam is the state religion. The currency is the Arab Emirates Dirham ($1 US is equivalent to around 3.6 dirhams). The UAE has one of the world's highest standards of living and the average life expectancy is 72 years.
The UAE was formerly known as the Trucial States or Trucial Coast. From 1820 onwards, Britain established its presence in the region with the signing of several agreements including a maritime truce, which gave the area its name. In 1968, having maintained its presence in the Gulf for well over a century, Britain declared its intention to withdraw by the end of 1971.
|SHEIKH ZAYED AND SHEIKH RASHID|
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and later UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, took the initiative to form a federation among the Trucial sheikhdoms. Qatar and Bahrain originally intended to join the seven emirates in the new federation, but in the end they opted for separate statehood. On December 2, 1971 the flag of the UAE was raised for the first time, marking the beginning of a new era.
|SHEIKH ZAYED AT THE |
DECLARATION OF THE UAE
The highest political authority in the federal government is the Supreme Council, which is made up of the seven rulers of the emirates. In addition to creating UAE policy, the Supreme Council elects a president, who serves a five-year term (there is no limit to the number of terms a president may preside). Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan served as President from the creation of the federation until his death in late 2004, when Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected President. The current Vice President and Prime Minister is Dubai's Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Prime Minister is responsible for selecting the government's cabinet ministers.
The UAE also has a Federal National Council, which consists of forty members, drawn from each of the seven emirates. The number of representatives from each emirate is proportionate to its population. The FNC upholds the political tradition of consultation, which has been a feature of the emirates' leadership throughout their history.
The Federal Judiciary is an independent body, as outlined in the UAE Constitution. It consists of the Federal Supreme Court (five judges appointed by the Supreme Council) and the Courts of First Instance.
|THE RULERS OF THE EMIRATES |
AS THE UAE FLAG IS
RAISED FOR THE FIRST TIME
Each emirate has its own local government too, consisting of municipalities and departments, so that each one retains a good deal of political and financial autonomy, a fact that has contributed greatly to the remarkable success of the federation.
Oil is the major source of income for the UAE with Abu Dhabi leading the emirates in oil production. The country's proven oil reserves make up about one-tenth of the world's total. In addition to petroleum and petroleum products, other industries have grown in importance, including aluminium production; food processing; and paint and clothes manufacturing. Export crops include seafood, strawberries and vegetables. In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of tourists who visit the UAE. Visitors are attracted by award winning hotels, sports facilities, extensive beaches and a mild winter climate.
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