Article: United Arab Emirates

"UAE" redirects here. For other uses, see UAE (disambiguation).
الإمارات العربيّة المتّحدة
Al-Imārāt al-ʿArabiyyah al-Muttaḥidah

United Arab Emirates
10063-125px-flag-of-the-united-arab-emirates-svg-united-arab-emirates-.png 10064-110px-coat-of-arms-of-united-arab-emirates-united-arab-emirates-.png
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: None
Anthem: Ishy Bilady
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Capital Abu Dhabi
22°47′N 54°37′E
Largest city Dubai
Official language(s) Arabic
Government Absolute monarchy
 - President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan
 - Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Establishment December 2, 1971 
Area  
 - Total 83,600 km² (116th)
  32,278 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
Population  
 - 2005 est. 4,496,000 (116th)
 - Density 54/km² (143rd)
139/sq mi 
GDP (PPP) 2006 estimate
 - Total $130.8 billion (55th)
 - Per capita $27,957 (23rd)
HDI (2003) 0.849 (41st) â€“ high
Currency Dirham (AED)
Time zone GMT (UTC+4)
Internet TLD .ae
Calling code +971

The United Arab Emirates (also the UAE or the Emirates) is a Middle Eastern country situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, comprising seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajmān, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Before 1971, they were known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, in reference of a nineteenth-century truce between the British and some Arab Sheikhs. It borders Oman and Saudi Arabia. The country is rich in oil.

History

Main article: History of the United Arab Emirates

The seven Trucial Sheikdom States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the United Kingdom control of their defense and foreign affairs in nineteenth-century treaties. In 1971, six of these states — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, and Umm al-Qaiwain — merged to form the United Arab Emirates. They were joined in 1972 by Ras Al Khaimah.

Politics

More information on politics and government of the United Arab Emirates can be found at the Politics and government of the United Arab Emirates series.

The Supreme Council consists of the individual rulers of the seven emirates. The President and Vice-President are elected by the Supreme Council every five years. Although unofficial, the Presidency is de facto hereditary to the Al-Nahyan clan of Abu Dhabi and the Premiership is hereditary to the Al-Maktoom clan of Dubai. The Supreme Council also elects the Council of Ministers, while an appointed 40-member Federal National Council, drawn from all the emirates, reviews proposed laws. There is a federal court system; all emirates except Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah have joined the federal system; all emirates have both secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the union's president from the nation's founding until his death on 2 November 2004. His son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan was elected president the next day.

Economic trend

Main article: Economy of the United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates is now the richest country in the Muslim world [1]. Though Current GDP per capita contracted by 42% in the Eighties, successful diversification helped register positive growth of 48% in the Nineties.

Airlines history

The national airline of the UAE was formerly Gulf Air, operated jointly with Bahrain and Oman. On September 13, 2005, the UAE announced that they were withdrawing from Gulf Air to concentrate on Etihad Airways, their new national carrier established in 2003.

In 1985, Dubai established a local airline called Emirates, which is now one of the most popular in the world.

Human rights

It is a common practice for employers in the UAE to retain employees' passports for the duration of the employment contract to prevent expatriate employees from changing jobs. This is an illegal practice, but it is almost never investigated, let alone punished by the government. Even though thre are court rulings all the government departments are holding their employees pasports.On termination of an employment contract, most categories of expatriates are banned from obtaining a work permit in the country for six months and a no entry stamp will be stamped on their pasports.

The United States Department of State has cited widespread instances of blue collar labor abuse in the general context of the United Arab Emirates [1].

The government has been criticized by human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch for its inaction in addressing the discrimination against Asian workers in the emirates. Salary structures and treatment based on nationality, sex, age, and race rather than on qualification are common [2].

According to Ansar Burney Trust (ABT), an illegal sex industry thrives in the emirates, especially in Dubai. This complements the tourism and hospitality industry, a major part of Dubai's economy [3]. A 2004 HBO documentary [4] accuses the UAE of illegally using child jockeys in camel racing, where they are also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Antislavery.org has documented similar allegations.[5] The ABT, which was featured heavily in the HBO documentary, announced that in 2005 the government of the UAE began actively enforcing a ban on child camel jockeys, and that the issue "may finally be resolved". [6].

The UAE's human rights record, particularly in relation to migrant workers, was widely criticised during the trials of Sarah Balabagan in 1995.

A website is campaigning to pressure the government of the UAE into signing up to International Labour Organisation core conventions on freedom of association (see [2]). Strikes and unions are currently banned in the UAE and many labourers are virtual prisoners, having paid huge agents' fees in order to obtain jobs and visas.

Migrant workers

Migrant workers, sometimes unskilled or skilled, comprise a large portion of UAE's workforce. A 2003 Human Rights Watch report estimates up to 90 percent of the country's 1.7 million workers are migrants. These migrants, drawn to wages often more than they could make in their home countries, have helped UAE's endless construction projects proceed rapidly. However, unlike many other countries, these foreign workers (also known as expatriates) do not have a claim to UAE citizenship and thus cannot be naturalized. This is generally only possible through marriage to a UAE or GCC citizen. People from neighbouring Arab countries or Iran who entered the country illegally during the 1950's and 60's, however, are full UAE citizens, due to the fact that poor border controls existed at that time.

Migrant workers in UAE face many challenges. As mentioned above, disparities in salaries and treatment occur for different races, with Arabs and Westerners getting better pay than their Asian or non-Arab counterparts. Even among Asians there are disparities. For example, a worker from Southasia, China or Phillipines may receive lower pay and bad treatment than one from Japan or Singapore.

As far as prisons are concerned, conditions are worse. Arab or Western inmates suffer little or no flogging for their crimes, but Asians are routinely flogged, not only for their offences but also for refusing to comply with the policemen in charge. Healthcare is generally reserved only for Arabs, but should an Asian fall sick, he will be left to look after himself, unless his situation is grave. Al-Wathba prison is a prison complex located outside Abu Dhabi city in close proximity to the Abu Dhabi International Airport. It is one of the main prisons in the UAE and houses inmates awaiting execution and deportation and also those who have been handed life sentences. It consists of living quarters, detention centre and execution grounds. Executions(a rarity) are carried out by firing squad.

Geography

Main article: Geography of the United Arab Emirates
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The UAE lies in Southwest Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is a flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert wasteland; with mountains in the east. Desert land covers over 90% of the country [3]. Its strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz makes it a vital transit point for world crude oil. The UAE is considered to be one of the fifteen states that comprise the so-called "Cradle of Humanity".

The border demarcation treaties of 1974 and 1977 between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were never made public. Therefore the exact border of the two countries is only known to their governments.

Exclaves and enclaves

There is an Omani enclave inside UAE territory, known as Wadi Madha. It is located halfway between the Musandam peninsula and the rest of Oman, on the Dubai-Hatta road in the Emirate of Sharjah. It covers approximately 75 km² (29 mi²) and the boundary was settled in 1969. The north-east corner of Madha is closest to the Khor Fakkan-Fujairah road, barely 10 m (33 ft) away. Within the enclave is a UAE exclave called Nahwa, also belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. It is about 8 km (5 mi) on a dirt track west of the town of New Madha. It consists of about 40 houses with its own clinic and telephone exchange [4].

Technology and telecommunications

Federal Act No. 1[5] of 1976 establishes the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation as the sole telephone and telecommunications provider in the country, however freezones and modern housing developments are exempt from this and utilise a separate telecommunications company.

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Dubai Skyline

For the majority of the UAE, Etisalat has a monopoly on business and personal telecommunications services.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) requires Etisalat to actively censor Internet sites. Material deemed offensive is often blocked.

Recently, a new Telephone company and Internet Service Provider (previously called Sahamnet and now a subsidiary of Dubai Internet City) has launched to serve expatriates who have purchased freehold property within the UAE.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of the United Arab Emirates
Distribution of Nationalities
Origin
Emaratis (local Arabs) 19%
Other Arabs 23%
South Asians 45%
Western & east Asian 13%

About 88% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is urban. The remaining live in tiny towns scattered throughout the country or many of the desert oilfield camps. [6].

Culture

Rooted in Islamic culture, the UAE has strong ties with the rest of the Arab world. The government is committed to preserving traditional forms of art and culture, primarily through the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. Change is very apparent in social life however - attitudes toward women are shifting, and new sports are becoming popular alongside traditional camel racing, including golf, with two European Tour events in the country (the Dubai Desert Classic and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship) and the world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, held annually in March. Due to the predominant Muslim religious beliefs, pork and alcohol are not commonly served in the area. [7]

See also: Music of the United Arab Emirates and Islam in the United Arab Emirates

Media

While media is one of the first industries that the emirate of Dubai has sought to develop through a number of micro-cities, there remain major issues concerning freedom of speech throughout the UAE. Dubai Media City has helped to make Dubai the media hub for the region, encompassing both the creation of media, from print through television and new media, and the advertising and marketing industry.

A number of international news organisations, including Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Press, Bloomberg, Dow Jones Newswires, CNN and the BBC, all have a presence in Dubai Media City, and enjoy complete freedom to report on local and regional events. However, local media operate under a number of restrictions, and are strictly forbidden from criticising the royal family.

The leading English-language newspapers in the UAE are:

  • Gulf News, the highest circulating broadsheet
  • 7DAYS, the highest circulating tabloid
  • Khaleej Times, the second-highest circulating broadsheet
  • Emirates Today, a government-owned newspaper

Holidays

Date English Name Arabic Transliteration
1 January New Year's Day رأس السنة الميلادية
Varies The Day of The Sacrifice Eid ul-Adha (عيد الأضحى)
Varies Islamic New Year Ra's Al Sana Al Hijria (رأس السنة الهجرية)  
6 August Accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan-al Nahyan Eid julous Al-Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan (عيد جلوس الشيخ زايد بن سلطان آل نهيان)  
Varies The Night Journey Isra'a wa al-Miraj (الإسراء Ùˆ المعراج)  
2 December National Day Al-Eid Al Watani (العيد الوطني)  
Varies End of Ramadan Eid ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر)

Miscellaneous topics

  • Communications in the United Arab Emirates
  • Foreign relations of the United Arab Emirates
  • List of cities in the United Arab Emirates
  • List of UAE companies
  • Prominent UAE Citizens
  • Schools in the UAE
  • Military of the United Arab Emirates
  • Transportation in the United Arab Emirates
  • Dubai Ports World controversy
  • Gay rights in the United Arab Emirates
  • Emirates Scout Association
  • UAE Autocross Championship