Area 82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.Major cities Abu Dhabi (Capital); Dubai.Terrain Largely desert with some agricultural areas.Climate Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.
Nationality Emirati.Population 8.9 million (2009 est., U.A.E. Government)Ethnic groups (U.A.E. Government) Indian (1.75 million) Pakistani (1.25 million) Bangladeshi (500,000) other Asian (1 million) European and African (500,000) and Emirati (890,000).Religions Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.Languages Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali.
Education Years compulsory--ages 6-12Literacy 90% for Emirati citizens.Health Life expectancy--78.3 yrs.Work force(2008, World Bank) Total--2.8 million. Agriculture--5% Industry--60% Services--35% (rounded) Female participation rate--41.8%.Educational Standards(2010 spring semester) U.A.E. University in Al Ain - 12,000 students American University Sharjah - 5,000 students enrolled.
Type Federation with specified powers reserved for the U.A.E. federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates.Independence December 2, 1971.ProvisionalConstitution December 2, 1971.Branches Executive -7-member Supreme Council of Rulers (comprising the hereditary rulers of each Emirate), which elects president and vice president; prime minister is selected by president. Legislative--40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial--Islamic and secular courts.
AdministrativeSubdivisions Seven largely self-governing emirates.Political parties None.Suffrage State-nominated electors chose half of the Federal National Council members in 2006 and 2011. The other half were directly appointed by the leadership of each Emirate. Federal government budget (2011): 41 billion AED (United Arab Emirates dirhams), or approx. U.S. $11 billion.
GDP (2009) 914.3 billion AED (approx. U.S. $248 billion).Annual growthrate (2007) 6.3%.Per capitaGDP (2008) over U.S. $53,400.Natural resources Oil and natural gas.Petroleum(2008 est.) 36.8% of GDP.Manufacturing2008 (est.) 12.2% of GDP
Services 56.1% of 2009 GDP.Trade (2006 est.) Exports--$157 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets - Japan, South Korea, India Thailand. Imports - $126.6 billion: machinery, chemicals, food. Major suppliers - Western Europe, Japan, U.S., China, India.Foreign economicaid (2009) 8.9 billion AED (approx. U.S. $2.4 billion).
First exports of oil in 1962, oil reserves, estimated at 97.8 billion barrels in2011, with gas reserves estimated at 214.2 trillion cubic feet. In 2009, theU.A.E. produced about 2.41 million barrels of oil per day.Manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, whichtogether have accounted for 70% of total imports.Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi InvestmentAuthority--which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiestemirate--manages an estimated $600 billion in overseas investments.
The U.A.E. was formed from the group of tribally organized ArabianPeninsula sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and thenorth-western coast of the Gulf of Oman.For centuries, the sheikhdoms were embroiled in dynastic disputes. In 1853,they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the"Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce.In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latters disputewith Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south.A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia almost settled theirborder dispute, but the agreement was never ratified by the U.A.E.Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled,although the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.
In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision to end the treaty relationshipswith the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrainand Qatar, under British protection.When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971,they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of thementered into a union called the United Arab Emirates.The U.A.E. sent forces to help liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 GulfWar. U.A.E. troops have also participated in peacekeeping missions toLebanon, Somalia, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
While the U.A.E. has worked to strengthen its federal institutions sinceachieving independence, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy. Abasic concept in the U.A.E. Governments development as a federal systemis that a significant percentage of each emirates revenues should bedevoted to the U.A.E. central budgetThe U.A.E. has no political parties. The rulers hold power on the basis oftheir dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus.Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of alarge foreign population have changed the face of the society.In December 2006, the U.A.E. held its first-ever limited elections to selecthalf the members of the FNC.
The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast andcommanded by British officers, were turned over to the U.A.E. as its defenseforces in 1971. The U.A.E. Armed Forces, consisting of 64,000, areheadquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense ofthe seven emirates.In 2010 and 2011, the U.A.E. was one of the largest foreign buyers of U.S.defence equipment with a portfolio value of $14B.The U.A.E. air force has about 4,000 personnel. The Air Force has advancedU.S. F-16 BLOCK 60 multirole fighter aircraft. Other equipment includesFrench Mirage 2000-9 fighters, British Hawk trainer aircraft, 36 transportaircraft and U.S. Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.The U.A.E. Navy is small--about 2,500 personnel--and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile boats.
The U.A.E.s Land Forces are equipped with several hundred French LeClerctanks and a similar number of Russian BMP-3 armoured fighting vehicles.The U.A.E. contributes to the continued security and stability of the Gulfand the Strait of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in U.S. counterterrorismefforts, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financialarenas since September 11, 2001.The U..A.E. also contributes to international counter-piracy efforts. Ithosted a counter-piracy conference in Spring 2011.
The U.A.E. is a member of the United Nations and the Arab League and hasestablished diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including theU.S., Japan, Russia, the Peoples Republic of China, and most westernEuropean countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization ofPetroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab PetroleumExporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.Substantial development assistance has increased the U.A.E.s stature amongrecipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion over time)has been to Arab and Muslim countries. In 2007, the U.A.E. pledged anddelivered $300 million to Lebanon, and was the first country to fulfil itspledge.The U.A.E. has provided significant monetary and material support to theIraqi Government, including a pledge of $215 million in economic andreconstruction assistance, and has also provided substantial aid toAfghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Authority.
The U.A.E. is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO) World Bank International Monetary Fund (IMF) Arab League Organization of the Islamic Conference Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.The U.A.E. is also a member of the International Renewable EnergyAgency (IRENA) and hosts the headquarters at Abu Dhabi.
The culture of the UAE has a diverse, cosmopolitan and multicultural society.The countrys cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearlingcommunity was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals— first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanisin the 1960s.Dubai has been criticized for perpetuating a class-based society, wheremigrant workers are in the lower classes.Emirati culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditionalArab and Bedouin culture. Being a highly cosmopolitan society, the UAE has adiverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on itsarchitecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well.
Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets ofmosques which are scattered around the country. The weekend begins onFriday due to Friday being the holiest day for Muslims.This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant thatthe UAE is generally more liberal than its neighbors.While the Islamic dress code is not compulsory, unlike neighboring SaudiArabia, many of the older and young Emirati men prefer wearing thawb or adishdash, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton while theminority of women wear abaya, black over-garment covering most parts ofthe body. This attire is particularly well-suited for the UAEs hot and dryclimate. Western-style clothing is also fairly popular, especially among theyouth.Etiquette is an important aspect of UAE culture and tradition, and whilst inthe UAE visitors are expected to show appropriate manners and etiquette.