The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states
formed in 1971 by the then Trucial States after independence from
Although each state - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al
Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaiwain - maintains a large degree of
independence, the UAE is governed by a Supreme Council of Rulers
made up of the seven emirs, who appoint the prime minister and the
Before oil was discovered in the 1950s the UAE's economy was
dependent on fishing and a declining pearling 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
Politics: The UAE is one of the most
liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs
generally tolerated. It held its first national elections -
for an advisory body - in December 2006
Economy: The people of the UAE
generally enjoy a high standard of living because of oil
wealth; diversification has dampened the shocks of oil price
fluctuations; the UAE is a regional trading and tourism hub
International: There has been tension
between the UAE and Iran over disputed Gulf islands; the US
treats the UAE as an ally in its "war on terror"
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
He oversaw the development of all the emirates and directed oil
revenues into healthcare, education and the national infrastructure.
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.
The country's growing business sector and its tourist industry
have helped to fuel a construction boom, with billions of dollars
being pumped into showpiece schemes. Chic hotels and skyscrapers are
emblematic of cities such as Abu Dhabi and cosmopolitan Dubai.
The UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with
other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated. Until December 2006
it was the only state in the region not to have elected bodies.
- Full name: United Arab Emirates
- Population: 4.4 million (UN, 2007)
- Capital: Abu Dhabi
- Largest city: Dubai
- Area: 77,700 sq km (30,000 sq miles)
- Major language: Arabic
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Dirham = 100 fils
- Main exports: Oil, gas
- GNI per capita: US $23,770 (World Bank, 2006)
- Internet domain: .ae
- International dialling code: +971
President, ruler of Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed
Sheikh Khalifa was named as president by the UAE Federal Council
shortly after the death of his father, Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al
Nahyan, in November 2004. The former president, who was 86, had been
in poor health.
Sheikh Khalifa succeeded his
Sheikh Khalifa, crown prince of Abu Dhabi since 1969, is said to
be a pro-Western moderniser.
Often referred to as the father of the nation, Sheikh Zayed
succeeded his brother as ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and, because of
his strong leadership and commitment to forming the federation, he
was elected as the first president of the United Arab Emirates in
Reelected every five years since 1971, Sheikh Zayed instilled the
values of religious tolerance and equality, especially for women,
into his policies, which greatly enhanced the stability of the UAE.
- Vice president, prime minister, ruler of Dubai: Sheikh
Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
- Ruler of Ajman: Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid al-Nuaimi
- Ruler of Fujairah: Sheikh Hamad bin Muhammad bin Hamad
- Ruler of Ras al Khaimah: Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al-Qasimi
- Ruler of Sharjah: Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi
- Ruler of Umm al Qaiwain: Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmad al-Mualla
Dubai aspires to be a regional and international centre for
television and media, alongside Egypt and Lebanon. An Electronic
Commerce and Media Zone Authority was created in 2000 to attract
regional and international media outlets.
It allows 100% foreign ownership and offers tax breaks.
Major media organisations - including Reuters and Sony - have
moved in. Established satellite broadcaster MBC relocated to Dubai
Media City from London.
In 2008 Abu Dhabi announced plans to set up a media zone.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech but there is
strong regulatory and political control of media content.
A 1988 law requires that publications be licensed and outlines
acceptable subjects of reporting. Foreign publications are censored
before distribution. Journalists tend to practise self-censorship
when reporting on such matters as government policy and ruling
Internet use is extensive; by 2007 there were 1.7 million users
(InternetWorldStats.com). According to Reporters Without Borders,
the authorities filter websites for religious, political and sexual
- Abu Dhabi Radio
- Radio Asia -
commercial, broadcasts in Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam
- Ras al Khaimah Radio
- Al-Arabiya FM -
commercial, Arabic pop
- Dubai 92 - commercial,
- Noor Dubai 93.9 -
commercial, "Islamic-oriented" news, talk
- City 1016 -
commercial, programmes in English and Urdu