UAE AT GLANCE
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country on the Arabian Peninsula located on the southeastern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. The UAE consists of seven emirates and was founded on 2 December 1971 as a federation. Six of the seven sheikhdoms (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah) combined on that date. The seventh, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the federation on 10 February 1972. The seven sheikhdoms were formerly known as the Trucial States, in reference to the treaty relations established with the British in the 19th Century.
Artifacts uncovered in the UAE show a long history of human habitation and regional trade including with Mesopotamia. The area was settled by a number of tribes along both the coast and interior and was Islamised in the seventh century.
A number of incursions and bloody battles took place along the coast when the Portuguese, under Albuquerque, invaded the area. Conflicts between the maritime communities of the Trucial Coast and the British led to the sacking of Ras Al Khaimah by British forces in 1809 and again in 1819, which resulted in the first of a number of British treaties with the Trucial Rulers in 1820. These treaties, including the Treaty of Perpetual Maritime Peace, signed in 1853, led to peace and prosperity along the coast which lasted until the 1930s, when the pearl trade collapsed, leading to significant hardship among the coastal communities.
A British decision, taken in early 1968, to withdraw from its involvement in the Trucial States, led to the decision to found a Federation. This was agreed between two of the most influential Trucial Rulers, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai. The two invited other Trucial Rulers to join the Federation. At one stage it seemed likely Bahrain and Qatar would also join the Union, but both eventually decided on independence.
Today, the UAE is a modern, oil exporting country with a highly diversified economy, with Dubai in particular developing into a global hub for tourism, retail, and finance, home to the world’s tallest building, largest man-made seaport and busiest international airport.