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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Basic Data
Official Country Name: United Arab Emirates
Region: Middle East
Population: 2,369,153
Language(s): Arabic, Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
Literacy Rate: 79.2%
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 1.8%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 1,584
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 259,509
  Secondary: 123,290
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 89%
  Secondary: 80%
  Higher: 12%
Teachers: Primary: 16,148
  Secondary: 10,061
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 16:1
  Secondary: 13:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 87%
  Secondary: 82%
  Higher: 21%



History & Background

Few countries in history have experienced, in less than four decades, a huge shift in income and development comparable to that of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the last part of the twentieth century. The UAE developed a public national educational system in a thirty year period that is similar to what Western countries established in over a hundred year period. Since the early 1960s the UAE has emerged from relative obscurity in global affairs to become one of the wealthiest and most dynamic of the smaller countries of the world. The rapid infrastructure development in virtually every corner of the country provides visual evidence of immense change. Public and private construction and modern consumption patterns are in evidence throughout the country.

Developing a diversified economic base and sophisticated modern cities equipped with advanced telecommunications, electricity, and utilities are among many measures being taken by the UAE federal government to provide a high standard of living and quality of life and to advance the skills and human resources of its citizens. Social development efforts, most particularly the nurturing of the country's citizens or "human capital," have been a priority of the UAE government since the early years of the federation. Immense resources have been applied to provide modern social and economic development infrastructure in education, health, and social welfare.

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven independent states located in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. It is in a very tough geopolitical neighborhood. The politics of the region includes differences in geographical names. The "Persian" or "Arabian Gulf" borders the region to the north, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and Oman to the east. Before the discovery of oil in the 1950s, the UAE was a group of low-income emirates under the protection of the British. Oil brought rapid growth and modernization to the area, and these small states became independent as the UAE in 1971.

Most of the country is desert but the UAE's proven oil reserves make up almost one-tenth of the world's total oil, with about ninety percent of the UAE's oil in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is quite hot during the summer months (May to October), with temperatures reaching 49C (120F).

Population estimates of the country in 2000 ranged from 2.6 to nearly 3 million. About 85 percent of the country's population is urban. Abu Dhabi is the largest city and is the national capital. It serves as the financial, transportation, and communications center of a major petroleum-producing area. Abu Dhabi also has a large port and is home to federal government ministries and embassies. Dubai is the main trading center of the entire Gulf, has the principal port facilities of the UAE as well as its busiest airport, and has several large commercial enterprises. The UAE has four other international airports.

Several features of the UAE's demography are unusual. The population in 1995 was 15 times larger than it was in 1965, largely due to the immigration of male expatriate workers. Four-fifths of the UAE's inhabitants are foreign workers and their dependents. The UAE also has a very youthful population because of the influx of young foreign workers, a cultural preference for large families, and greatly improved medical care. There is a significant imbalance in the sex ratios, with some national expatriate groups having about ten males for every female.

The native population of the UAE is overwhelmingly Arab. Generally a different tribe dominates each emirate. About two-thirds of the UAE's non-native populations are Asians (largely Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, and Filipinos), and the other third are Iranians or Arabs (primarily Jordanians, Palestinians, and Egyptians). Although the huge population share of expatriates has caused some concern over its possible impact on security and on social and cultural values, the level of tensions between the various ethnic communities is slight. The UAE is noted for a very low level of crime; violent behavior is rare. Standards for public conduct are high. Expatriates may be expelled for minor law violations. There are a sizeable number of undocumented residents who have overstayed temporary visas and are casually employed.

Arabic is the official language of the UAE. English is also widely spoken, as are Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. Islam is the official religion of the country and all Emiratis and a majority of the expatriates are Muslims. The constitution guarantees religious freedom and there are some Christian churches in the country. The density of mosques in the urban areas is very high. Two or three mosques may be in sight of one another.

The culture of the UAE is a blend of traditional and modern elements, which is open to many types of influences and change. The religion of Islam and the heritage of a traditional, tribal Arab society form the basis of a stable and conservative social structure. Censorship of media is routine. There is, however, a degree of openness and a tolerant atmosphere that permits expatriates opportunities to enjoy familiar entertainments and leisure activities, including the discreet use of alcohol.

The most conservative arenas of life in the UAE concern women and male-female interaction. For most Emirati women the home remains the basic sphere of activity. Younger women, benefiting from their access to modern education, are playing a wider role in society but, with only about fourteen percent of the small overall Emirati labor force being female, their numbers are few. Arranged marriages are the norm and family members carefully restrict the conduct of young women. Marriage to a cousin or within one's class is a preferred form. The number of Emirati men marrying non-Emirati women has increased in recent years and is considered by the government a threat to national culture that requires intervention. The government is actively involved in promoting marriages among its nationals.

Reflecting a mix of modern and traditional life, clothing styles include Western and indigenous dress and the national dress of several other countries. A great variety of dress is manifest in public places, including that of groups from South and Southeast Asia. Most Emirati men wear the dishdasha, a white, loose-fitting garment that is comfortable in hot weather. Most women wear the black abayah and some also wear a facemask called the burka, although this tradition is less common among younger women.

Most of the population has modern air-conditioned housing, either in apartments or villa-style houses, a great contrast with the simple dwellings of forty or more years ago. The small rural population lives in a more traditional style, and a few Bedouins still live nomadically in tents. Similarly, local foods represent a blend of traditional Arab dishes, such as grilled lamb with spiced rice, with South Asian, Chinese, European and increasingly popular American fast foods readily available in urban areas.

Traditional sports, such as falconry and horse and camel racing, remain popular with newer sports, particularly soccer (football). Tribal identities continue to be expressed through loyalty to some UAE football teams. There are several internationally known and broadcast competitions held each year in the UAE in golf, tennis, horseracing, auto cross, motor-rallying, and powerboat racing. Most Emiratis enjoy family-centered entertainment, including routine visits with a network of friends and relatives and watching video media at home. Cell phones are in common use throughout the country and contribute to daily interaction.

Traditional Islamic rituals remain important, especially the Eid al-Fitr and the Eid al-Adha, the festivals that mark the end of Ramadan (a month of fasting) and the conclusion of the haj (pilgrimage to Mecca) on the Islamic calendar. On special occasions Emiratis perform traditional dances to musical accompaniment. The commitment to preserving traditional arts and culture is evident both at the popular level and in the political leadership. Each emirate devotes considerable resources to maintaining museums and libraries. Sharjah has developed nine museums within extensive arts and culture district and a vast University City complex, which includes the campuses of five institutions of higher learning.

There is a strong commercial tradition in the UAE and trading relationships with other countries are longstanding. Trade with India and China expanded in the early Islamic period, with Julfar (in present-day Ras al Khaymah) one of many areas currently being examined by archaeologists, serving as one of the leading ports.

European intervention in the area began with the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century. From the mid-seventeenth century the British and Dutch competed for domination, with Britain coming out on top. By about 1800, the Qawasim, the ruling clans of Sharjah and Ras al Khaymah today, had become a maritime power in the lower gulf, attacking ships from British-ruled India. Labeling their opponents as "pirates," the British defeated the Qawasim fleet in 1819 and in 1820 imposed the first of several treaties that created and sustained a maritime truce, giving the name "Trucial States" to the emirates. By 1892 the British had taken over the states' foreign relations and external security and the states remained under British protection until 1971.

The British, who were principally concerned with the security of the UK-India trade routes and Gulf maritime commerce, rarely directly intervened in the states' internal affairs. The British drew upon a small but sophisticated group of civil servants to manage political and military relations. The most significant results of British domination were the establishment of an embryonic government bureaucracy, a general peace, the introduction of the Western concept of territorial or nation-states, and the creation in 1952 of the Trucial States Council to promote cooperation among the seven rulers, which provided the basis for the future leadership of the UAE.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The UAE's constitution established a federal government that leaves much power to the emirates. Legal codes differ among the emirates. The government has executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but the executive strongly dominates. There are no political parties and no popular elections. Although the governmental institutions are modern in form, the base of political power is traditional and hereditary, with the ruling family of each emirate representing its dominant tribe and region. Politics is largely a process of satisfying the claims to power of ruling families and their factions as well as merchants and religious leaders.

Because of the UAE's oil wealth, citizens pay no taxes and receive generous social welfare benefits, including free medical and dental care. The UAE has a modern health care system that is comparable to that found in Western industrial societies. Facilities are concentrated in the larger cities, although most people have access to basic care. Citizens may also be sent abroad for specialized treatment.

After the founding of the UAE in 1971, there was tremendous expansion of public education facilities. Section 17 of the Constitution declares that education is fundamental to the progress of society and is to be compulsory at the primary level and free at all levels. Uniforms, books, equipment, and transportation are also free. In the early years of the UAE's existence, education was second only to defense in the federal budget, a pattern that continues today.

Education, as routinely indicated in government policy, is considered a key element in promoting the necessary skills for social and economic development. As in other countries, priority was given to the needs of school-aged children. Increased attention is now being given nontraditional student populations. The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY), the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), and higher-level federal authorities routinely promulgate laws and regulations concerning education. Some important laws are included in discussing particular features of education in the UAE.


Educational SystemOverview

Most histories of the Gulf region focus on political and military developments and are oriented toward a readership of Western specialists. The written record of the history of education in the region is very thin. Archaeological excavations in several locations in the UAE are, however, providing new information about many aspects of the region's ancient past, including life in complex urban settlements that existed thousands of years before the coming of Christianity and Islam to the area. More information is becoming available as well about the period of Islamic expansion before significant contact was made with Europeans. Islamic Instruction in the Koran through traditional schools and tutors was common in many places in what is now the UAE hundreds of years before European states became a presence in the late 1400s.

"Western" or "modern" education can be traced to the early 1900s when prosperous pearl merchants in the coastal cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah established three schools. Foreign teachers from other parts of the Arab world, who taught reading, writing, and Islamic studies, staffed the schools. The economic crises of the 1920s and 1930s and the decline in the pearl industry from Japanese competition forced these schools to close, but others reopened when the economy improved.

The British government, controllers of the military and external affairs the Trucial States (the forerunner of the UAE), built the first school offering a comprehensive Western-type curriculum in Sharjah in 1953. Staffed by teachers from other Arab countries, the school had 450 boys between the ages of six and 17 during its first year. Soon after the first modern primary school for girls was established in Sharjah. The British government also built schools in Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaymah, and Khawr Fakkan. It established an agricultural school in Ras al Khaymah in 1955 and a technical school in Sharjah in 1958.

In 1958 Kuwait started to build schools in the emirates, including facilities in Ajman and Umm al Qaywayn. Kuwait also provided teacher-training programs in the UAE and funded teacher trainees from the emirates to go abroad for training. Until the emirates could afford to pay teachers, Bahrain, Qatar, and Egypt paid teachers to work in the emirates.

After Abu Dhabi Emirate began earning great oil revenues in the early 1960s, it developed and funded its own educational system, while the other emirates that were to become part of the UAE continued to rely on outside assistance. By the 1964-1965 academic year, Abu Dhabi had six schools attended by 390 boys and 138 girls, taught by 33 teachers. In the same year, there were 31 schools outside Abu Dhabi, 12 of which were for girls. Dubai had 3,572 students in 10 schools and 137 teachers. A basic feature of the UAE educational system is its astounding growth since 1964. During the 2000-2001 academic year, 314,217 students were in UAE schools, which numbered 710 institutions with 27,493 teachers and administrators.

One of the consequences of the continuing investments in public education is that the standard of living for UAE citizens has improved greatly since 1971. The UAE was ranked forty-fifth in the United Nations Human Development Index for the year 2000. This index assesses the quality of life based on income, educational standards, life expectancy, and health care in 174 countries worldwide. A comparable measure in the early 1960s would have placed the UAE in the low bottom quartile.

The existing educational structure, which was established in the early 1970s, is a four-tier system covering 14 years of education. The tiers include kindergarten (4-5 years old), primary (6-11 years), intermediate (12-14 years) and secondary (15-17 years) levels.

Instruction is in Arabic. Introductory English is given in the early grades with advanced courses being offered at all of the intermediate and secondary levels. Some technical and scientific courses in English are offered at the secondary level. Instruction by native speakers of English is rare. No other foreign languages are being taught in the public sector. Some private schools, however, offer instruction in European and Asian languages.

The school year starts in September and ends in early June. As in many other Arab and Islamic countries, the government workweek is from Saturday to Wednesday, with Thursday and Friday constituting the "weekend." Islamic and UAE national holidays are observed and a shortened school day is followed during the holy month of Ramadan when it falls during the school year. Summer courses are rare because of the intense heat of that season. A large minority of Emirati families spends part of the summer abroad.

Student, teacher, staff, and school numbers have steadily increased in the private educational sector, in addition to great growth in the public schools. In a recent five-year period the number of private schools increased to 398 in the 1998-1999 school year, from 365 in the 1994-1995 school year, with male and female students increasing by 19 percent from 189,830 to 225,898, and teaching staff from 12,659 to 16,416. UAE national students registered with private schools accounted for 11 percent of their total enrollment in 1995.

The total number of students at primary and secondary level in public and private schools in the UAE has steadily grown each year and reached 563,461 in 1998, up from 480,973 in 1995, an increase of 4 percent per annum. Teaching and administrative staff increased to 43,510 in 1999, up from 37,425 in 1995, while the number of schools increased to 1085 from 901 for the same period.

A large minority of students in the federal school system are the sons and daughters of foreign nationals working in the UAE. The percentage of UAE national students in government schools stood at 66.6 percent in 1998-1999, compared with 33.7 percent for expatriate students. The number of female students increased by 3 percent, while the figure was 2.6 percent for male students.


Preprimary & Primary Education

Emirati women generally stay at home and take care of their younger children, sometimes with the assistance of expatriate domestics from the Philippines or Sri Lanka. Emirati families tend to be large and female family members often provide childcare for their younger relatives. Females make up only about 13 percent of UAE citizens in the work force. Childcare facilities are uncommon and the demand for them modest. They tend to cater to the needs of expatriate families who include a working mother.

Primary school education is compulsory for all UAE citizens starting at age six. Kindergartens, which are for children aged four and five, are generally considered to be part of the primary tier rather than a separate program. Interestingly, kindergarten is the only level where a majority of the teachers, all women, are UAE nationals rather than expatriates. Government policy is to provide teacher-student ratios of 1:20 at kindergarten and primary levels. As shown by recent UAE Government statistics from the Ministry of Education and Youth (2001), current teacher-student ratios are well within this proposed range. The teacher-student ratio of kindergarten and primary levels is 1:17.

Primary education is for six years divided into two three-year cycles, a basic or "junior primary stage" in which one teacher has a single class throughout the day, and the "senior primary stage," in which there are different teachers for the different school subjects. "Preparatory education" includes classes from Grades VII to IX of the first primary sequence or from Forms I to III of the preparatory stage. The school year extends over 32 weeks for both the kindergarten and the basic junior primary stage.

Core subjects in the junior primary stage include Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, mathematics, and science. Activity subjects include art, physical education, music, and family education for girls. The same subjects are taught at the senior primary stage, but the number of periods for some of them is increased. At the senior stage, social studies join the required subjects. The same subjects are taught at the preparatory stage with an increase in content and the number of class periods. Social studies become divided into three separate units that include history, geography and civics.

The Ministry of Education and Youth determines the curricula and defines the number of periods for each subject, pursuant to ministerial resolutions, which take into account curriculum developments and evaluation studies. In the senior stages it consists of 36 weeks and is divided into two terms. The length of the academic year at the different stages and the number of periods for each subject matter are specified in ministerial resolutions. Ministerial Resolution No. 2263/2 of 1995 specifies the number of teaching periods for the different subjects and activities for the primary and preparatory stages of general education. The time allocations include the primary stage with 32 weekly periods (hours) in Grades I-III, and 34 periods (boys) or 36 periods (girls) in Grades IV-VI. The preparatory stage has 34 weekly periods for boys or 36 periods for girls in each form.

Schooling, uniform costs, and related expenses are provided without charge to the students and school transportation is also free. Emirtas, the government establishment for public transportation, is responsible for transporting students to and from schools.

There are two general procedures for evaluation and examinations, one for the primary stage and one for both the preparatory and the secondary stages. A two-term academic year system is in place with each term considered a separate, independent unit. At the end of the academic year, successful students are awarded a certificate and are promoted to the next class. These certificates are authenticated and verified by the school and educational zone officials. The pass rate is generally over 90 percent. Dropout rates are in the 4-5 percent range.

A specific period is set aside at the end of each term for examinations, and students are promoted to higher grades according to their marks in both the examinations and coursework throughout the year. In both the preparatory and secondary stages, a test is held at the end of each term. A coursework mark is added to decide the student's final result. The diagnostic evaluations project for the basic curriculum requires teachers to prepare educational activities and to offer remedial activities to students with learning difficulties or higher cognitive activities to those with very high achievement.


Secondary Education

The secondary stage lasts three years. In the first year students follow a common syllabus. In the second and third years, they specialize in science or literature. At the end of the secondary stage, successful students obtain the Certificate of General Secondary Education (CGSE).

At the secondary level the following subjects are taught in the annual sequence indicated:

  • Year I: Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, history, geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, computer science, physical education, and family education (for girls).
  • Years II-III: Islamic education, Arabic language, English language, mathematics, physical education, and family education (for girls). These are the basic subjects. In addition, students can choose to join either the science section or the literary section, and have to study the following additional subjects: history, geography, sociology, and economics in the literary section; physics, chemistry, biology, and geology in the science section.
  • Year III: there is an increase in the number of subjects taught in the second year of secondary in each of the two streams. Literary-section students are taught philosophical subjects, logic, and psychology instead of sociology and economics.

Ministerial Resolution No. 2263/2 for the year 1995 allocated the number of teaching periods for the different subjects and activity subjects for the secondary stage of general education. Thirty-four weekly periods (boys) or 36 periods (girls) are required in the first two years; 36 weekly periods (boys and girls) are required in the third year.

Preparatory education lasts three years (age group 12-14) and qualifies students for general or technical secondary education. General secondary education lasts for three years and is for the age group 15-17 years old. After the first year of core subjects, students can choose to follow either a science or a literary stream. Technical education comprises three main streams: technical, agricultural, and commercial. It is divided into two levels, one for technical preparatory education, and the other for technical, commercial, and agricultural secondary education, each lasting three years. In technical education courses English is used for specialized subjects but all other subjects are taught in Arabic.

At the end of the general and technical secondary stages, students are awarded a certificate after passing the general examination held at the end of each academic year. This certificate qualifies a student to undertake higher studies at university level. In 1996, programs of technical education to be carried out jointly with German technical institutions were initiated. Priorities of the Ministry at the secondary level are to reduce the failure and dropout rates and incidents of truancy and to increase the efficiency of administrators through executive development programs. Secondary education development studies includes research on teaching strategies that take into account individual differences among learners, and directing educational resources for improvements in individualized instruction. A further focus is with educational guidance or counseling, monitoring and directing of students to areas that suits their capabilities and aptitudes.

The School Activities Project seeks to help learners develop their capabilities and interests in science and technology by adding two successive periods for program activities. Activities include electronics, automotive engineering, astronomy, basic electricity, and maritime sciences.

Comprehensive changes have taken place in recent years in the curricula, syllabi, laboratories, and overall framework of technical education to contribute emiratisation and increase the number of technical school graduates in the workforce. A Technical Education Development Plan seeks more direct connections between work and study. Studies for the development of technical education include both the practical and theoretical aspects of different specializations. They also include a worksite participation plan allowing graduates opportunities to work with modern equipment and facilities.

Government policy is to provide teacher-student ratios of 1:15 at intermediate and secondary levels. Current teacher-student ratios are well within this proposed range. The teacher-student ratio of intermediate and secondary levels is 1:10. On the average, from 12 to 14 percent of the students must repeat a grade because of failure.


Private Schools: The UAE employs great numbers of expatriates from various countries, many of whom have children. The different national groups have developed a large number of schools to accommodate their children. Private schools in the country range from excellent to poor.

Private schools follow the curricula of their homeland but they operate under the licensing and supervision of the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY). The MOEY has a private education department to supervise private schools, providing the regulations, resolutions, and follow-up procedures for the implementation of national policy guidelines.

The ministry supplies textbooks to private schools that follow the national syllabus. It also sends inspectors to supervise private school teachers who may attend the training courses held for their counterparts working in government schools.

The ministry monitors the management of private schools and institutes in an effort to ensure that teacher salaries and privileges are comparable to those of instructional staff in government schools. MOEY teachers' salaries average about US$1,400 a month. In spite of the parity regulations, private school teachers reportedly earn, on the average, about half that amount, even though private schoolteachers' qualifications are very similar to those of government schoolteachers.

The ministry is also responsible for regulations concerning private school management such as complying with teaching load requirements. By law, teaching loads in the private sector are supposed to be the same as that of their counterparts at government schools. In spite of this policy, some private school teachers have many more classroom hours per week than those in the public sector.

Private school syllabi are based on the curricula of their respective national educational systems. These syllabi are to be approved by the appropriate departments at the ministry. Article 17 of Federal Law No. 9 of 1972 specifies that private schools have to teach certain subjects according to the ministry's syllabus, including Islamic education, Arabic language as a basic subject for Arab students and as an additional subject for non-Arab students, and social studies. Private schools in which Arabic is not the medium of instruction are to teach Arabic language to non-Arabic speakers. In this context, the Ministry has approved in conjunction with the Educational Bureau for Arab Gulf States the use of particular texts. If the number of Arab students at a private school is less than 20 percent of the total enrollment, Islamic education and social studies may be taught in English using textbooks prepared by the ministry.


Special & Gifted Education: Most of the resources of the MOEY are used to conduct the routine activities of a large and rapidly expanding national education system. In recent years, however, the educational system in the UAE has recognized the different educational needs of two groups, the gifted and students with special needs. The special education department has initiated several pilot and other projects to address the needs of students with advanced capabilities and aptitudes. These projects seek to provide students who exhibit high degrees of intellectual ability and social and psychological development a wider scope of learning and educational experience. The project follows a methodology of grouping students homogeneously, significantly enriching the content of the curriculum, and promoting students from one stage to another depending on their ability and achievements.

For students with physical and mental disabilities, the ministry has set up classes in general secondary schools as well as adult education centers. From the perspective of the MOEY, these students are not regarded as being handicapped but simply as students with particular needs that should be met to ensure their participation in society.

Centers set up for those with special needs are supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and serve those with hearing and physical disabilities, the visually impaired, and others with special needs, including children of school age, most of whom are at the primary and intermediate age levels. This ministry coordinates its programs with the MOEY and is constantly improving its facilities, while at the same time recognizing the customary role of the Islamic family in caring for the disabled. The percentage of disabled people in the UAE is estimated to be similar to the worldwide average of about 10 percent of the population.

New developments to care for those with special needs are in progress, including a large facility in Abu Dhabi with 70 classrooms and 20 training workshops, and the Al Thikka facility, which was officially opened in Sharjah in July 1999. In October 2000, MOEY, together with the Red Crescent Society, also opened a center for autistic children in Abu Dhabi, the first of a number of such centers planned by the ministry.


Higher Education


The UAE's younger citizens also have ready access to higher education at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) in Al Ain, at the recently founded all-women Zayed University in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, at the 11 campuses of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCTs) throughout the country, and at the many internationally accredited private institutions that are being established in the UAE. UAEU, Zayed University, the Higher Colleges, and other federally funded institutions are tuition free. Generous grants are also available for those wishing to study abroad, most of whom are males pursuing degrees in applied and technical fields. In 1998, over 1000 UAE students (mostly male) studied abroad in 32 countries with UAE government grants. Many families use their own resources to provide for their son's undergraduate education in the United States, often in a business or commercial field.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research controls higher education in the UAE. Primary functions of that ministry are to plan and coordinate higher education activities in the UAE. It also is the coordination point for admissions for all federal institutions of higher learning. The oldest of the several postsecondary institutions in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) opened in 1977 at Al Ain with four faculties in the arts, science, education, and political science, and business administration. First-year enrollment was 400. A sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) faculty was added in 1978; faculties in agriculture and engineering were added in 1982. The UAEU has become a leading tertiary institution in education, research, and community service. The university is the most popular destination for students seeking higher education in the UAE with over 15,000 students currently studying at its facilities. Instruction in most courses is in Arabic with several programs being conducted in English. Most courses are segregated on the basis of gender.

The Higher Colleges of Technology were established in 1988, initially offering two-year applied and vocational programs. Located in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Al Ain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, they provide three years of technical training in such areas as business administration, accounting, banking, information systems, computers, engineering, aviation technology, and health sciences. There are separate HCT colleges for men and women. The HCT awarded it first bachelor's degrees in 2001. These colleges are designed to prepare nationals for professional and technological careers in both government and private sectors. Since their foundation, the colleges have grown dramatically, with staff and students increasing by about 30 percent each year. As of 2001, over 10,000 students are taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered by HCT campuses around the country. The HCT are also embarking on an extensive program of off-campus instruction.

Zayed University (ZU) for women, with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, was established in 1998 with the aim of educating Emirati women in English, Arabic, and computer skills as well as in academic areas. It provides four-year undergraduate studies in the arts and sciences, business, communication and media sciences, education, and family sciences. It will also soon provide graduate and continuing education programs for adult male and female students. One such course is the executive MBA program offered by ZU College of Business Sciences. Its current enrollment is about 2,000 students.

As reported annually in the Ministry of Information and Culture's publication, United Arab Emirates Yearbook, public sector higher education continues its expansion. A record 10,703 people sought higher education places in the 2000-2001 academic year, of which 9,794 were declared academically eligible. This means that more than 90 percent of national students leaving high school in the UAE are applying to Zayed University, the UAE University at Al Ain, and the Higher Colleges of Technology. Of all secondary school graduates, this includes 95 percent women and 73 percent of the men, reported to be the highest number of higher education admissions per capita anywhere in the world.

During the 2000-2001 application process, Zayed University enrolled 435 new students, 244 at its Abu Dhabi campus and 191 in Dubai. The Higher Colleges of Technology received 5,661 new students. The National Admissions and Placement Office received 3,275 applications from female students and 1,758 from male students for places at the UAE University. About a third of the female students have applied for courses offered by the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty, while the most popular choice among males is engineering and business economics. There are also special federallysupported training colleges with a practical, career-orientated focus, like the Etisalat College (developed by the UAE federal telecommunications agency), the Police Colleges, and the Dubai Aviation College, with a student population of over 900 for the 2000-2001 academic year.

Higher education is also available through the Armed Forces with the Zayed Military Academy in Al Ain, which includes students from throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Many emiratis have an educational experience abroad. Several thousand young people, predominately males in technical areas, travel abroad to study on government scholarships in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. There is a strong preference for English language, graduate-level degree programs. A number of Emiratis also study English in summer programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The UAE private higher education sector also continues to grow, often in the form of extramural degree programs with the participation of both recognized and little-known institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and Pakistan.

There is great variety in the private higher education sector. Some programs are for-profit private enterprises with a vocational training focus while others have private endowments and an intellectually oriented agenda. The most prominent of the new private institutions is the American University of Sharjah (AUS), located in the emirate that is becoming increasingly recognized as the intellectual, artistic, and cultural focal point of the UAE. With a large, well-equipped and attractive campus and internationally prominent faculty, the AUS promises to become the leading university in the region.


Means of Instruction & Infrastructure: The Curriculum and Textbooks Department of the MOEY carries out evaluation and development studies concerning curricula, teaching methodology, audio-visual aids, and evaluation activities. It is the primary contact point for consulting educational experts, specialized educational bureaus in the Gulf, and other Arab and international organizations.

The 1990s brought the development of a great array of new teaching materials for Islamic education, Arabic language, social studies (history, geography, economics, civics) and sociology, logic, philosophy, and psychology. A total of 99 new textbooks were completed or revised between 1994 and 1996. The curricula for chemistry, physics, biology, and geology was developed and integrated with the Gulf States curricula in coordination with the Arab Educational Bureau. By the mid 1990s, the number of textbooks distributed to schools was about 4.5 million and included 199 titles.

Although the UAE has achieved much expansion in the field of education, there is an awareness on the part of many that a constant updating of policy and continual investment in infrastructure is required to ensure that graduates are equipped to enter the workforce and assist in the country's development. Although quantitative measures of progress are most often found in the press, issues of quality regarding curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher preparation and leadership are increasingly being discussed. The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY) has produced and revised several policy documents outlining a strategy for further educational development in the UAE up to the year 2020, using a sequence of five-year plans.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Budgeting and financial procedures are under the control of the various central government councils composed of the leaders or designates of each emirate. No distinction is made between the personal fortune of Sheik Zayed, reportedly the fifth richest man in the world, and the national treasury. Budgets are routinely drawn up by ministry officials with the aid of consultants and reviewed at different levels. While a system of checks and balances can be identified and lead to moderation in decision-making, the views of the Sheik and of individual national leaders can be more readily incorporated into public policy than is the case with the weaker and less authoritarian executive branches in the Western democracies.

At the ministerial level, educational issues are the domain of a High Committee including the ministers of education, planning, finance and industry, labor and social welfare, the chancellor of the UAE University, the undersecretary of education, and two MOEY appointees. It coordinates and develops national policies and implementation efforts. A MOEY committee on Regulations and Development drafts policy, budgets and implementation procedures for the High Committee and is composed of the minister and his top five assistants.

The primary focus for the future is to establish and maintain a viable system that keeps pace with international developments and helps students acquire the skills required in a modern labor force. In particular, government strategy ambitiously seeks to introduce the latest information technology at all levels, including a computer for every 10 students at kindergarten, every five students at primary school, every two students at preparatory school, and for every student at secondary school. There are strong advocates for the use of technology but critics also warn of the overemphasis on such tools that can lead to the neglect of traditional learning skills and an emphasis on format rather than content. Cooperation between the public and private sector, which represents a diverse collection of institutions with United States, United Kingdom, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Iranian, and Filipino curricula, along with other institutions, is considered to be a necessity for program success.

As in all sectors of the UAE economy the "emiratisation," (the replacement of expatriate specialists from other countries by local nationals) of teaching staff is ambitiously scheduled to reach 90 percent by the year 2020. The government regards emiratisation as necessary if the UAE's Islamic and Arab traditions are to be perpetuated and suitable employment of educated nationals is to be found. A planning, development, and evaluation Office, directly supervised by the Minister of Education, has been established by the ministry to implement various emiratisation strategies.

The use of advanced educational technology is also being emphasized at the postsecondary level. In keeping with its present educational and national economic development and diversification strategy, the UAE University is seeking to establish an internationally prominent information technology college in Al Ain. Requiring an estimated US$62 million, the UAEU College of Information Technology will be an ultra modern facility located inside the new "University Town" that is planned for Al Maqam. The new area will consolidate various university facilities currently scattered around the city. The IT College, conceived by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the UAE University, will be housed in a state-of-the-art building, designed to match future requirements. The curriculum will encompass a total of nine degree programs, including software engineering, information systems, telecommunications, educational technology, e-commerce, and information security. Upon completion the IT College anticipates an initial enrollment capacity of 1,300 students, 300 males and 1,000 females. The capacity will be gradually increased to a total of 3,000, 1,200 male and 1,800 female students. The Dubai Emirate Government has also granted land to Zayed University in the large Dubai Internet City complex to enable it to establish an IT facility in premises to be provided by the Zone Authority.

The Department of Information and Research of the MOEY is responsible to undertake theoretical and applied research and field studies and to coordinate and assist other units in carrying out such research. Research topics are either suggested by the leading authorities at the ministry or compiled by the department after reviewing current issues and analyzing data. Educational research is carried out by research teams following an educational research regulatory code. A 1995 ministerial report concluded that "[T]he professional capabilities of the research co-coordinators in educational zones and offices should be developed; studies and trends related to establishing a research center at the Ministry should be encouraged; and, equally, relationships involving information and research exchanges with educational research centers at the local, Arab and international levels should be developed." The documentation and statistics section provides in English all data related to educational research. This section also offers its research services to educational researchers working in the Arabic language through the annual directory of Arab Educational Abstracts.

Educational research is carried out by the MOEY on a variety of topics. Summaries of these efforts are available, usually in Arabic. Research results are more selectively shared than is the practice in North America and Europe. The Ministry of Information and Culture is the primary spokesman for the government on all matters, including educational concerns. UAEU also conducts research, some of which is shared in Arabic- and English-language academic journals. To date, however, most of the research available on education in the UAE comes from doctoral dissertations written by UAE nationals for degrees at American and British universities. The limited amount of research and the fact that that which is accomplished is generally not readily available to other professionals makes keeping abreast of scholarship on education in the UAE a challenging endeavor.


Nonformal Education

Significant achievements in the nonformal education sector of the UAE are apparent. Literacy in the UAE has improved dramatically since the formation of the state. As recently as 1975 the literacy rate among males was 54.2 percent and among females 30.9 percent. By 1998, the adult literacy rate (age 15 and above) was 77.1 percent for females and 73.4 percent for males.

The decline in illiteracy has been facilitated by the widespread availability of literacy classes at adult education centers spread throughout the UAE. In 1999, some 108 adult education centers were in operation, offering educational opportunities for 16,553 mature students. From 2000 to 2001, the number of adult centers increased from 108 to 113, comprising 39 centers for men and 74 for women. The number of mature students in these centers is anticipated to increase from 16,553 to an estimated 24,404, with female students comprising 13,917 of the total and male students numbering 10,487.

Nonformal education efforts focusing on UAE women are worthy of particular attention. The Women's Federation of the UAE has played an important role in providing nonformal educational opportunities for women.

As indicated by the statistics cited, women in the UAE have commonly embraced the formal educational opportunities made available to them since the foundation of the state. Female students are now in the majority at all levels of higher education in the country. Women are also achieving impressive records in their studies, outperforming their male counterparts in many activities. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of the UAE President, Sheik Zayed, has noted that women have "no choice but to excel in education to compensate for the long years that they have endured without the light of knowledge."

The continuing strong endorsement from the nation's leadership for the pursuit of education has given UAE women more opportunity to participate in the affairs of their country. Support from national leaders led to the development of Zayed University for women in 1998. Although their numbers currently remain small, UAE women today are making their presence felt in society as civil servants, university professors, teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, business women, administrators, and as members of the police force and the army. The policy that women are entitled to play a major role in UAE society is grounded in the UAE Constitution, which guarantees the principles of social justice for all "in accordance with the precepts of Islam." Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, and the right to practice professions as men. The guarantees specified in the Constitution have been promoted by implementing legislation.

A legislative framework by itself would not, however, have been sufficient to achieve the expanding level of emancipation experienced by UAE women today. Non-formal educational programs have played a significant role in improving the condition of UAE women. Understanding that organization was required at the grassroots level, Sheikha Fatima founded the first women's society in the country in 1973, the Abu Dhabi Women's Society. The success of the Abu Dhabi organization led to the creation of the Dubai Women's Development Society, the Sharjah Women's Development Society, the Women's Development Society in Ajman, the Umm al-Qaiwain Development Society, and the Ras al-Khaimah Women's Development Society. These societies were subsequently linked together under the UAE Women's Federation, which was established in 1975. To date, the federation has played an important role in assisting the women of the UAE to increasingly realize their potential.

The UAE Women's Federation (now housed in elegant new premises in Abu Dhabi) is a quasi-governmental autonomous body with its own budget. It has a number of committees to run its activities, such as religious affairs, mother and child care, social affairs, cultural affairs, sports, heritage, and arts. Depending on the geographical size of the emirate, the individual societies in the federation may have more than one branch and there are now a total of 31 branches of the six societies, many operating in remote areas of the country. Activities undertaken by the individual branches, often in association with the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), include illiteracy eradication and health education programs, nursery classes, housekeeping, dressmaking and handicraft classes, art classes, child care information, vocational training projects, job placement programs, religious education, welfare assistance, and family counseling, along with a calendar of social, cultural, and sporting activities.

The priorities of the Women's Federation in the early days were to help women emerge from seclusion, use their leisure time to become literate, and acquire knowledge about the modern world to enable them to raise their families' standards of living. Having made gains in these areas, today's goals are linked to comprehensive social planning, with a view to increasing cohesiveness and national identity in the country.

Despite advances in the emancipation of women in the UAE, much more needs to be done. For example, there is increasing focus on employment opportunities for well-educated women. In 1980 females constituted 3.4 percent of the labor force. By 1995 this figure had only increased to 14 percent, despite the fact that a growing majority of college and university graduates are women.

After examining models used elsewhere, the Centre for Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) has recently launched a countrywide continuing education program for all nationalities. The program has been designed for professional development and personal enrichment for people with an eye for continuing education. Initial project plans include 100 face-to-face instructor-led courses and approximately 100 online courses through a web site (http://www.cert.ac.ae). Courses will be offered through the center and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, and Ras al-Khaimah. The center is the continuing education and research arm of the HCT, and this will be the first time the HCT will offer special courses to both nationals and expatriates.

Teaching Profession

The remarkable growth of education in the UAE is well documented statistically. The vision and hard work of many contributors in bringing about such an achievement should be recognized. Starting with a situation in which about 90 percent of the population was illiterateand school buildings, books, curriculum, and teachers were nearly unknowna modern comprehensive public educational system has been developed.

Unlike many countries, a lack of financial resources has not been a barrier to the development of the educational system. Lacking teachers in the UAE, the government has been able to recruit teachers from other countries to fill staffing needs. Most such teachers are Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, and Palestinians. This situation reflects the way in which the UAE fills its needs for labor and professional services in general, by hiring hundreds of thousands of qualified people from other countries on multiple year contracts.

Consequently, the economy relies tremendously on expatriate expertise and labor. An exception to expatriate participation is the government, a primary employer of UAE citizens. Emiratis constitute about 10 percent of the total UAE workforce, and only about 1 percent of government jobs are excluded. In 1994, about 26 percent of the teachers in the UAE were nationals, an increase of 556 percent since 1985-1986. A reported 54 percent of the kindergarten teachers in the UAE were nationals and all were women. The primary school teachers included 6 percent male nationals and 44 percent female nationals; overall, 31 percent were nationals. At the secondary level national males comprised only 5 percent of the teachers while female nationals comprised 36 percent, with nationals making up 23 percent of the total. In the private education sector there is a significantly lower percentage of Emirati teachers.

The selection, training, and effective use of teachers are a MOEY responsibility. The ministry seeks to accomplish high quality teacher training for both pre- and in-service, in addition to improvements in salary scales and job descriptions for teachers.

An often cited goal of the ministry is for all teachers in the UAE to have university degrees and classroom experience before their appointment. Considerable time and expense is devoted to teacher recruitment domestically and in other Arab countries. Expatriate applicants sit for a written examination either in the UAE or in their home country. Those who pass the written test may be selected for a personal interview to determine if they are qualified for teaching and, if so, which stage of education is appropriate. UAE citizens are only required to have interviews.

Graduates of the UAE University are recruited into the teaching profession but their numbers are not enough to meet the needs of the expanding number of classes and the increasing number of students. To address this problem the Ministry collaborates with the UAE University to provide the required teaching staff in various specializations. It also qualifies nationals holding a GSEC (General Secondary Education Certificate) through a pre-service training program that is preliminary to university study, and another program of external tutorial studies for teachers for the primary stage (basic, junior and senior). The pre-service training program has attracted several young men and women to the teaching profession. In coordination with the university, the ministry has also prepared courses, regulations and methods of supervision. There are additional programs offered to kindergarten, family education, and secretarial studies teacher trainees. Other proposals to offer UAEU graduates incentives to work in the teaching profession are under consideration.

Training and preparation programs are intended to raise the scientific and educational skills and cultural background of those who are already teachers. The UAEU education faculty collaborates with the MOEY in carrying out in-service training programs and courses, and practical pre-service training programs. The MOEY pre- and in-service teacher training department is involved in this training through the programs it prepares in coordination with the dducational affairs sector. The departments of primary, preparatory, and secondary education; the educational zones offices; and the inspectorate take part in the training programs.

Teaching training programs and short courses include:

  • Orientation programs and courses held for new teachers and inspectors who are briefed about the UAE, its educational system regulations, and procedures governing work.
  • Inspectors' training courses held in the educational zones and offices for new teachers to familiarize them with basic principles concerning planning, evaluation, teaching, and changes and developments in the curricula.
  • Basic and foundation programs for new UAEU graduates (apart from those trained in the faculty of education). These programs aim at enhancing teaching skills.
  • Qualifying programs given to candidates for supervisory jobs (senior teacher, supervisor, principal, and vice principal).
  • Development programs seeking to train teachers and acquaint them with new developments in curricula, teaching aids, and methods.
  • "Activating programs" conducted in different zones to revise existing academic programs, update their content, and make sure that work is being carried out properly and accurately.
  • Remedial programs respond to teacher efficiency reports that include directives, recommendations and suggestions to improve selected aspects of performance.

There are also training courses outside the ministry. Selected national teachers are allowed to participate in training courses abroad in coordination with the National Committee of Education, Culture and Science and the Educational Bureau for the Arab Gulf Countries.

The average salary of a UAE national teacher in the federal system was reportedly about US$1400 per month in 2000. The salary scale for UAE teachers, according to Cabinet Decree No. 316/4 for the year 1996, ranges from a minimum salary for teachers with a qualification below the GSEC, to a maximum level for university graduates with advanced degrees. There are two scales in use, one for UAE teachers and the other for expatriates. Teachers with a master's degree receive an additional allowance of US$170 per month, while teachers with a Ph.D. receive an additional US$340. Teachers working in distant areas receive a remote area increment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. In addition to their salaries, teachers receive allowances for accommodation, transport and cost of living, plus an annual supplement based on qualifications. A special scale for teachers' salaries has been in force since 1976. A study was submitted to the Cabinet recommended awarding a special allowance amounting to 30 percent of the basic salary to UAE national teachers as an incentive to continue their work as teachers or remain in the profession. This policy is aimed at counterbalancing the rise in salaries in other departments and establishments, which attract distinguished teachers with higher salaries.

Any teacher with an "excellent" grade in his/her annual performance is eligible for promotion to an administrative or technical job. Administrative jobs include administrative supervisor, vice-principal, principal, and administrative inspector. Technical and professional jobs include senior teacher, inspector, and senior inspector. Promotions favor UAE teachers over expatriates and take place after candidates attend specialized courses where their abilities and skills are evaluated. They then attend further training courses and workshops.

In-service training is the responsibility of the preand in-service teacher training department. These courses are compulsory for the newly appointed teachers as well as for candidates for promotion to supervisory position.


Summary

The government is responding to the dynamics of the small national population in relation to a very large nonnational population, which could form the basis for future political instability or conflict, by treating expatriates as temporary residents who will be replaced in the future by qualified Emiratis. There is pressure on the educational system to produce graduates who are ready, willing and well qualified to join the work force, and on the Ministry of Education and Youth to get more UAE nationals into teaching positions.

The typical contract for an expatriate teacher is three to five years, though some expatriate teachers have been allowed to stay in the UAE longer. The turnover among expatriate teachers is about 15 to 18 percent per year, requiring the ministry to hire up to 2,300 new teachers a year from among the approximately 25,000 who apply.

Nationals in the system include university and teaching training institute graduates, but others with minimal qualifications are often hired as teachers and thousands have been hired without any formal education in the profession. No specific training levels are required for a national to qualify for a job and nothing like a teaching certificate exists in the UAE. The pay scales for national teachers are about sixty percent higher than for expatriates in the federal schools and national males are given further inducements to become a teacher. Nationals also have great advancement opportunities. About seventy percent of all principals are Emiratis. In spite of such measures, the goal of having a teaching force that is 90 percent Emirati by 2020 appears to have little chance of coming to pass.

Teachers, administrators, academics, and other observers of the UAE educational system have noted with concern poor quality instruction and learning exist in some outlets. Research has shown that teaching methods on the whole are traditional and based on rote memorization. Textbooks are seen as being at the center of learning through memorization. Teacher absenteeism is also a problem. Innovation on the part of teachers is often viewed as very difficult because of the demands of complying with a centralized curriculum and evaluation system enforced by administrators and school inspectors. Explanation and discussion are the most common methods reported with little use of small group, individualized, lecturing, experimental, laboratory, or role-playing methods.

Observers also argue that curricula are outmoded and that innovations, when instituted, are often practices that are going out of fashion elsewhere. Concerns have also been expressed about a culturally based emphasis on group relationships, which impedes individual effort. Performance in many areas is often years behind that of students in other national systems. Dropout rates are high. Expatriate teachers, as temporary guest workers, are contract workers whose views are often not considered by UAE administrators and who are not perceived as stakeholders in the system. Some expatriate teachers are trained for systems in which large class sizes are the rule and there is an intentional "weeding out" of marginal students, blocking their prospects for postsecondary education. The UAE can afford small class size and individualized instruction in environments in which most students can progress. The high turnover in expatriate staff prevents UAE schools from developing a cadre of experienced teachers upon which quality programs depend. Because expatriate teachers are trained in their home countries, the UAE cannot exert control over their training or qualifications or provide for some common basis of experience. Some question the advisability of having foreign teachers as role models for Emirati youth.

The UAE educational system faces considerable challenges but the UAE is one of the few nations on earth in which ample financial resources are available to help resolve them. The vision of the leadership and administrative skill of those guiding such programs within a diverse and complex cultural environment will determine the outcome.


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Paul D. Starr

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS EMIRIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

United Arab Emirates

Al-Imarat al-'Arabiyah al-Muttahidah

CAPITAL: Abu Dhabi (Abu Zaby)

FLAG: The flag consists of a red vertical stripe at the hoist and three equal horizontal stripes of green, white, and black.

ANTHEM: The National Anthem is an instrumental piece without words.

MONETARY UNIT: The United Arab Emirates dirham (ud), introduced as the currency in May 1973, is divided into 100 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils and 1 and 5 dirham and notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams. ud1 = $0.27337 (or $1 = ud3.658) as of January 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system and imperial and local measures are used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Accession of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi only), 6 August; National Day, 2 December; Christmas, 25 December. Muslim religious holidays include Lailat al-Miraj, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', Hijra New Year, and Milad an-Nabi.

TIME: 4 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Comprising a total area of approximately 82,880 sq km (32,000 sq mi), including some 6,000 sq km (2,300 sq mi) of islands, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, consists of seven states: Abu Dhabi, or Abu Zaby; Dubai, or Dubayy); Sharjah; Ra's al-Khaimah, or Ra's al-Khaymah; Fujairah, or Al-Fujayrah; Umm al-Qaiwain, or Umm al-Qaywayn; and 'Ajman. Comparatively, the area occupied by United Arab Emirates is slightly smaller than the state of Maine. Extending 544 km (338 mi) nesw and 361 km (224 mi) senw, the United Arab Emirates is bordered on the n by the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, on the e by Oman, on the s and w by Saudi Arabia, and on the nw by Qatar, with a total boundary length of 2,185 km (1,358 mi), including a coastline of 1,318 km (819 mi).

In the late 1970s, Saudi Arabia and Qatar reportedly reached a boundary agreement according to which a narrow corridor of land was ceded by Abu Dhabi, thus allowing Saudi Arabia access to the Gulf near the Khawr Duwayhin and eradicating the former Qatar-UAE frontier. However, through 2005, no documents attesting to the accord had been submitted to the United Nations. The remainder of the boundary with Saudi Arabia is not yet fully demarcated. A 1999 border treaty with Oman was reportedly signed and ratified in 2003, but the contents of the agreement had not been published as of late 2005.

The UAE's capital city, Abu Dhabi, is located on the Persian Gulf.

TOPOGRAPHY

The United Arab Emirates consists mainly of sandy desert. It is bounded on the west by an immense sebkha, or salt flat, extending southward for nearly 112 km (70 mi). The eastern boundary runs northward over gravel plains and high dunes until it almost reaches the Hajar Mountains in the Ra's Musandam near Al 'Ayn. The flat coastal strip that makes up most of the United Arab Emirates has an extensive area of sebkha subject to flooding. Some sand spits and mud flats tend to enlarge, and others enclose lagoons. A sandy desert with limestone outcroppings lies behind the coastal plain in a triangle between the gravel plain and the mountains of the east and the sands of Saudi Arabia to the south. Far to the south, the oases of Al-Liwa' are aligned in an arc along the edge of dunes, which rise above 90 m (300 ft).

The main gravel plain extends inland and southward from the coast of Ra's al-Khaimah to Al 'Ayn and beyond. Behind Ra's al-Khaimah and separating Fujairah from the Persian Gulf is an area of mountains that rise over 900 m (3,000 ft) in height, with isolated cultivation. Finally, alluvial flats on the Gulf of Oman fill the bays between rocky spurs. South of Khor Fakkan (Sharjah), a continuous, well-watered fertile littoral strip known as the Batinah Coast runs between the mountains and the sea and continues into Oman. There are, in addition, many islands, most of which are owned by Abu Dhabi. These include Das, the site of oil operations, and Abu Musa, exploited for oil and red oxide.

CLIMATE

The months between May and October are extremely hot, with shade temperatures of between 3849°c (100120°f) and high humidity near the coast. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 2°c (36°f) but average between 1720°c (6368°f). Normal annual rainfall is from 510 cm (24 in), with considerably more in the mountains; most rainfall occurs between November and February.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Apart from cultivated plants, there are two categories of plant life in the United Arab Emirates: the restricted salt-loving vegetation of the marshes and swamps, including the dwarf mangrove, and the desert plant community, which includes a wide range of flora that is most abundant after the fall of rain.

Animal and reptile life is similar to that of Bahrain, with the addition of the fox, wolf, jackal, wildcat, and lynx. Hedgehogs have been seen. More than 250 species of small birds have been seen in the United Arab Emirates, along with many of the larger birdskites, buzzards, eagles, falcons, owls, and harriers. However, the number of breeding species in the country may be much less than 100. Sea birds include a variety of gulls, terns, ospreys, waders, and flamingos. Popular game birds include the houbara (ruffed bustard), as well as species of ducks and geese.

ENVIRONMENT

The clearing of natural vegetation, livestock overgrazing on range-lands, and extensive deforestation (in ancient times) have led to desertification. Overpumping of groundwater has brought a rise in soil salinity levels, and effluents from the oil industry have contributed to air pollution. In 1992, the United Arab Emirates ranked among 50 countries with the world's highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 70.6 million metric tons, a per capita level of 42.28 metric tons. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 58.9 million metric tons.

The nation has about 0.2 cu km of renewable water resources, with 67% of annual withdrawals used for farming activity and 10% used for industrial purposes. The nation's cities produce an average of 0.5 million tons of solid waste per year.

As of 2001, the nation had two land areas protected by environmental legislation. The Al 'Ayn zoological gardens contain some 280 species of wildlife, including the gazelle, which had been on the verge of extinction in the region. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 11 species of birds, 1 type of reptiles, and 6 species of fish. Endangered species in the United Arab Emirates are the peregrine falcon, South Arabian leopard, hawksbill turtle, gray wolf, Arabian oryx, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, and desert monitor.

POPULATION

The population of United Arab Emirates in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,618,000, which placed it at number 115 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 1% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 25% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 214 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 4.4%. Government development policies have resulted in large-scale immigration of foreign workers, contributing to the high growth rate; the government in 2005 viewed the immigration rate as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 6,875,000. The population density was 55 per sq km (143 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 78% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.79%. The capital city, Abu Dhabi, had a population of 475,000 in that year.

MIGRATION

About 80% of the UAE's population originates from outside its borders. In the early 1980s, the government took steps to reduce the immigration rate by limiting the number of visas issued to foreign workers. By 2003, foreigners were 90% of the 1.7 million work force, with over 50% from India, and 400,000 foreigners arriving annually. The government aimed at nationalization of the workforce by prohibiting foreigners in some jobs, and by instituting a "cultural diversity policy" aimed at favoring Arabic-speakers over Asian.

In 2000, there were some 1,922,000 migrants living in the United Arab Emirates. This includes the small number of refugees. The net migration rate for 2005 was estimated as 0.84 migrants per 1,000 population, a considerable drop from 15.0 migrants per 1,000 in 1990.

ETHNIC GROUPS

Only about 19% of the population were native Emirati. South Asians accounted for 50% of the total population at last estimate, while other Arabs and Iranians made up 23%. Other expatriates, including Westerners and East Asians, totaled 8%. Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis, and Bahrainis are employed throughout the bureaucracy, including the educational system.

LANGUAGES

Arabic is the official and universal language. Hindi and Urdu are minority languages. English is widely used in business. Farsi is spoken in Dubai.

RELIGIONS

Islam is the official religion of all seven emirates. As such, about 76% of the population are Muslims, primarily Sunnis with a Shia minority. In emirates that officially recognize and grant legal identity to non-Muslim groups, only a limited number of Christian groups are granted this recognition. While recognizing the difference between Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity, the authorities make no other legal distinction between Christian groups, particularly Protestants. About 9% of the population are Christians. Other faiths include Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Baha'is, and Sikhs.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion within the scope of established customs. The government retains the right to enforce certain restrictions, such as a prohibition on proselytizing of non-Muslim faiths and limited rights of assembly. Many non-Muslims meet in private homes.

TRANSPORTATION

With most of the population concentrated in coastal towns and the Al 'Ayn oasis, road links between these centers have been given priority. There is now a paved coastal road linking Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, 'Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, and R'as al-Khaimah. Roads linking the interior to the main towns have been constructed; of particular importance is the transpeninsular road from Fujairah through the Hajar Mountains. A six-lane, 209-km (130-mi) highway has been built between Abu Dhabi and Al-'Ayn, and two bridges connect Abu Dhabi island with the mainland. Another highway links the UAE coastal network with the Trans-Arabian Highway at As-Silah on the Qatar border. In 2002, there were 4,835 km (3,004 mi) of paved highways. Of registered vehicles in 2003, there were 240,573 passenger cars and 70,000 commercial vehicles in use. There are no railways or waterways in the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates is well provided with port facilities. Dubai's Port Rashid, with its deep-water berths and warehouses, is one of the largest artificial harbors in the Middle East. Other ports are the Jabal 'Ali complex, also in Dubai, completed in 1980. Abu Dhabi's Port Zayid; Sharjah's Port Khalid; and the deepwater port at Ra's al-Khaimah. Sharjah constructed a new port at Khor Fakkan in the early 1980s; the Fujairah port became fully operational in 1983. Jabal 'Ali in Dubai is the largest man-made port in the world. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 56 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 578,477 GRT.

In 2004, there were an estimated 35 airports. As of 2005, a total of 22 had paved runways, and there were also two heliports. A new international airport in Abu Dhabi, on the mainland across from the island, opened in 1982. The other international airports in the United Arab Emirates are in Dubai, Sharjah, and Ra's al-Khaimah. In July 1991, a "cargo village" opened at Dubai Airport, designed to handle 250,000 tons of cargo per year by 1997. The village operations can transfer cargo received at the port into air containers ready for airlift in three hours, and have the facilities to handle frozen and hazardous goods. In 2003, about 11.384 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

Although the Trucial Coast has for centuries been situated on one of the main trade routes between Asia and Europe, very little is known about the early history of the states that now make up the United Arab Emirates. The northern states of the United Arab Emirates, and in particular Ra's al-Khaimah, first came into historic prominence during the period of Portuguese occupation in the 16th and early 17th centuries, when Portugal used the territories as a base to fight a rear guard action against Persia. At that time and down to the mid-18th century, neighboring Oman played an integral role in the history of the maritime states.

Abu Dhabi island was settled by its present ruling family, Al Nahyan, toward the end of the 18th century, and Dubai was founded by an offshoot of the same family in 1833. The late 18th and 19th centuries brought the division of the area between the Nahyan and the Qawasim, who ruled Ra's al-Khaimah and neighboring territories and whose clashes with British and Indian shipping led to British naval expeditions against what came to be known as the Pirate Coast. Treaties concluded in 1820 and 1835 established a formal relationship between the states of the southern Gulf and Britain that was to last until 1971. In 1853, the sheikhs agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce" to be enforced by the British navy. Under a treaty signed in 1892, the United Kingdom promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to lend its good offices in case of land attack. In 1955, the United Kingdom effectively intervened on the side of Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraymi oasis, control of which is now shared by Abu Dhabi and Oman.

When, in 1968, the United Kingdom announced its intention to withdraw its forces from the area, a decision to establish a federation of Arab emiratesembracing the seven Trucial States, Bahrain, and Qatarwas agreed on in principle. However, it proved impossible to reconcile the differences among all the members. Six Trucial States (excluding Ra's al-Khaimah) agreed on the establishment of the United Arab Emirates, which was officially proclaimed a sovereign, independent nation on 2 December 1971, with Ra's al-Khaimah joining in early 1972.

Externally, the move to independence in 1971 placed the United Arab Emirates in difficult straits with its two powerful neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia asserted a territorial claim on a group of oases in the south of the United Arab Emirates, and Iran laid claim to its offshore islands. In 1974, a border agreement on the Liwa' oases was signed with Saudi Arabia, but apparently has not been fully recognized by the rulers of either country. The dispute with Iran over the Abu Musa and Tumb Islands became tense when Iranian forces unilaterally asserted control over the UAE section of Abu Musa in 1992. In 1996, Iran rejected a proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to put the dispute over the islands to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration. In 2005, Iran still occupied the islands. In the dispute, the United Arab Emirates has received support from the GCC, UN, and the United States.

The United Arab Emirates became a founding member in 1981 of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic alliance directed, at least implicitly, against Iran. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United Arab Emirates gave aid to Iraq but also maintained diplomatic relations with Iran and sought to mediate the conflict.

In the Gulf War, forces from the United Arab Emirates participated with allied troops and the government gave some $4.5 billion to the coalition war effort. Subsequently, the United Arab Emirates has increasingly looked to the GCC, the United States, and friendly Arab states for its security protection. The UAE's generosity with foreign aid to Arab states made it a significant player in the affairs of the region. In the years immediately after the war, the United Arab Emirates accepted the stationing of US troops on its soil.

During the Yugoslav civil war, the United Arab Emirates airlifted wounded Bosnian Muslim women and their families to Abu Dhabi, where they were given free medical treatment and housing, and financial support for one year. The country has also given heavily to Red Crescent relief organizations in Bosnia. Unlike its neighbors and partners in the GCC, Oman and Qatar, the United Arab Emirates did not establish liaison offices in Israelalthough it relaxed the Arab-wide boycott of Israel in the hope that lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel would be forthcoming as a result of the Oslo Accords.

In 1991, the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), which was based in the United Arab Emirates and largely owned by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, collapsed, causing repercussions all around the world. Accused of fraudulent dealings, the bank was officially liquidated in 1996, and the UAE cabinet resigned the following year. A sharp decline in oil prices in 1998 strongly affected the economy of the United Arab Emirates, which recorded a drop of almost 6% in its GDP. At the end of 1999, the United Arab Emirates celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding, and the 30th anniversary of rule its president, Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States called upon the nations of the world to implement counterterrorism measures. In November, the United Arab Emirates ordered financial institutions in the country to freeze the assets of 62 organizations and individuals suspected by the United States of supporting terrorist movements.

During 2002 and into 2003, the United Arab Emirates, along with the other countries of the Persian Gulf, were confronted with the situation of a potential US-led war with Iraq. In November 2002, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Iraq to immediately disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to allow the immediate return of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UN weapons inspectors. The United States and the United Kingdom began amassing troops in the region, and by the end of February 2003, the number of troops in the Persian Gulf was approximately 200,000. At a 1 March 2003 Arab League summit held at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan called upon Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to relinquish power and leave Iraq in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Iraq would be placed under the tutelage of the UN and the Arab League until a new government could be formed. Bahrain and Kuwait supported the UAE proposal. However, on 19 March 2003, the United States launched air strikes against Baghdād, and war began.

Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE and its first president, died on 2 November 2004. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan. A 40-day period of mourning was held for Sheikh Zayid, who was much loved by the people.

GOVERNMENT

According to the provisional constitution of the United Arab Emirates, promulgated on 2 December 1971, the executive branch of the UAE government consists of the Federal Supreme Council, headed by the president, and the Council of Ministers. The Federal Supreme Council (FSC), composed of the hereditary rulers of the seven emirates, has responsibility for formulation and supervision of all UAE policies, ratification of federal laws, and oversight of the union's budget. Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, emir of Abu Dhabi, was elected president upon independence and was continuously reelected to five-year terms until his death on 2 November 2004. His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan, was unanimously elected by the FSC to succeed his father. The president is assisted by the Council of Ministers, or cabinet, headed by the prime minister. Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, served as vice president and prime minister since 1990, succeeding his father upon the latter's death. His positions were reaffirmed in January 2006. The member states are represented in the cabinet in numbers relative to their size and importance.

After extending the 1971 interim constitution at five-year intervals for 25 years, the Supreme Council and the Federal National Council approved a measure removing the term "interim" in 1996, making the document a permanent constitution. The Federal National Council, consisting of 40 delegates from the member emirates, appointed by their respective rulers for two-year terms, can question cabinet ministers and make recommendations to the Supreme Council, but it has no legislative powers. The constitution stipulates the distribution of the 40 seats as follows: Abu Dhabi and Dubayy, 8 each; Sharjah and Ra's al-Khaymah, 6 each; and 'Ajmān, Umm al-Qaywayn, and Al Fujayrah, 4 each. The Supreme National Council meets only occasionally.

Most of the emirates are governed according to tribal traditions, including open meetings in which citizens express themselves directly to their rulers.

POLITICAL PARTIES

No political parties exist in the UAE. Arab nationalist feeling has developed, however, and there is growing sentiment, particularly among urban youth, in favor of political liberalization and accelerated economic development. Several small clandestine groups with ties to radical Arab organizations or militant Islamic groups are believed to be active and are watched closely by the federation's security services.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The major institutions of local government are the municipalities of Abu Dhabi town, Al-'Ayn, Dubayy, Sharjah, Ra's al-Khaymah, Al Fujayrah, 'Ajmān, and Umm al-Qaywayn and a handful of traditional councils known as majalis and amiri diwans.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah have developed relatively sophisticated judicial systems based, as in other Gulf states, on a combination of Shariah laws and contemporary legal codes. The 1971 constitution established a Federal Supreme Court and an indeterminate number of courts of first instance. The Supreme Court consists of a president and a maximum of five judges, all of whom are appointed by presidential decree upon approval of the Federal Supreme Council. The Supreme Court president and member judges are deemed independent of the executive and legislative branches; once appointed, they cannot be removed. In 1983 a comprehensive law governing the federal judiciary was issued, creating a full federal judicial system, though the member emirates retain significant and varying degrees of judicial autonomy. The federal system consists of primary courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court.

Shariah courts in each emirate are subject to review in the Federal Supreme Court. There is no separate national security court system. Military tribunals try only military personnel and apply a system based on Western military judicial procedure.

Court systems in the Emirates of Dubai and Ra's-al-Khaymah function independently of the federal system. Each system has multiple levels of appeal and verdicts in capital cases are appealable to the president.

There are no jury trials. Under the Criminal Procedural Code, the accused has a right to counsel in capital cases and in those involving a possible penalty of life imprisonment. Due process rights are uniform under both the civil court and the Shariah court procedure.

ARMED FORCES

The armed forces of the UAE were placed under a unified command in 1976, and the forces of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ra's al-Khaimah, and Sharjah were merged. In 2005, the combined forces totaled 50,500 active personnel. The Army had 44,000 soldiers including the Royal Guard. Equipment included 469 main battle tanks, 76 Scorpion light tanks, 113 reconnaissance vehicles, 430 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 860 armored personnel carriers, and over 501 artillery pierces. The Navy was comprised of an estimated 2,500 personnel. Major naval units included 2 frigates, 2 corvettes, and 14 patrol/coastal vessels. The Air Force had 4,000 active personnel and was outfitted with 146 combat capable aircraft, including over 57 fighter ground attack aircraft. The service also had 30 attack helicopters.

Many military personnel are expatriates from Oman, Jordan, and other countries. The US maintained a 1,300-manned military presence in the UAE. The defense budget for 2005 totaled $2.65 billion.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

On 9 December 1971, shortly after achieving independence, the United Arab Emirates became a member of the United Nations, and it now belongs to ESCWA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the World Bank, the IAEA, FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. The country is a member of G-77, WTO, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab League, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Islamic Development Bank, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), OAPEC, and OPEC. The UAE is part of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, the United Arab Emirates is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

The economy of the UAE centers primarily on oil and oil-based industries, but the share of this contribution to the GDP fell from 70% in 1980 to an estimated 22% in 1998. This was principally the result of falling oil prices, but also reflected the growth in other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing, finance and insurance, real estate, and government services.

In 2002, the oil industry's share was at 24%, but manufacturing had reached 15.1% of GDP from only 3.8% in 1980. The oil industry accounts for about 30% of exports and provides 7080% of government revenues. In Abu Dhabi, by far the wealthiest of the seven emirates, oil revenues are supplemented by income from a huge investment fund. Dubai joined the ranks of the oil producers only in 1971, and entrepôt trade continues to play a major role in its economy. In 2000, Abu Dhabi completed a capacity expansion program has increased the UAE's crude oil production capacity to 2.6 million barrels per day (million barrels per day). Third quarter production in 2002 was 1.99 million barrels per day, somewhat over the official OPEC quota of 1.89 million barrels per day.

Although 'Ajman has a small shipbuilding and ship repair yard and a cement company, and Umm al-Qaiwain has a fish hatchery, a cement plant, and some small handicraft operations, these poorer emirates depend on federal aidin effect, on revenue sharing by Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Oil production in Sharjah began in July 1974, and manufacturing and tourism there have been expanded. The number of factories in Sharjah rose from 74 in 1974 to 931 in 2000, increasing 13.4% from 1998. Ra's al-Khaimah has six large cement plants (three built since 1998), a pharmaceutical factory, a lime kiln, and the gulf's first explosives plant. Fujairah remains predominantly agricultural, but the emirate's government has also been developing an industrialization program, with emphasis on establishing mining-based industries. In 2002 it had 33 factories, a third producing nonmetallic metal products.

In 2003, the GDP growth rate was 7.0% (up from 1.9% in 2002), but by 2004 it fell to 5.9%; in 2005, it was expected to grow back to 6.8%. Inflation has remained fairly constant, at around 3%. There is no recent data for the unemployment numbers, although the unemployment rate is believed to be somewhere around 2.5%.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2001 the United Arab Emirates' gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $51 billion. The per capita GDP was estimated at $21,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.6%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 10.5%. The annual rate of GDP growth between 1988 and 1998 was about 4.2%. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange. Petroleum extraction accounts for approximately 34.2% of GDP; manufacturing, 11%; wholesale and retail trade, 10%; government services, 9.6%; business, 8%, and construction, 7.4%. Foreign aid receipts amounted to about $1 per capita.

LABOR

In 2005, the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) workforce was estimated at 2.8 million. As of 2001, (the latest year for which data was available) the service sector provided jobs for 78% of the workforce, with industry amounting to 15%, and agriculture 7%. For that same year, the unemployment rate was 2.4%. Around 74% of the UAE's population, between the ages of 15 and 64 years, is made up of foreign nationals.

The UAE leans heavily on skilled labor, technology, and management abilities provided by foreigners. Non-UAE Arabs are employed at all economic levels, including the government bureaucracy and civil service. Manual labor is largely performed by Pakistanis and Iranians, while many Indians are to be found in clerical positions. Most domestic servants are women from Sri Lanka or the Philippines. There is a high proportion of Europeans at management levels. The large influx of immigrants was insufficient to cope with labor needs. A 1984 decree guarantees UAE nationals priority in hiring, in order to reduce dependence on expatriates.

Unionization is prohibited by law. Collective bargaining provisions do not exist, and strikes are strictly prohibited in the public sector. Rather, all labor contracts are reviewed by the Ministry of Labor to ensure that the pay will satisfy the employee's basic needs and secure a means of living.

There is no minimum wage. A standard workweek of eight hours per day, six days per week and minimum occupational health and safety requirements are not effectively enforced. Foreign workers are especially vulnerable to abuse. Widespread and credible reports indicate that foreign workers have had their passports confiscated, pay withheld, and are forced to work excessively long days far beyond the statutory maximum. Women working as domestic servants have also reported being sexually and physically abused. Foreign workers have little redress for their grievances. UAE administrative bodies virtually never rule against a UAE employer, and UAE employers can prevent a foreign worker from switching to another employer.

AGRICULTURE

Only about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of land are cultivated. About 24% of cultivated land is used to grow vegetables, 30% fruit, 10% feed crops, and 36% for other uses. The most productive region is Ra's al-Khaimah, which receives underground water supplies from the nearby mountains of Oman and which enjoys the most plentiful rainfall. The main crops are tomatoes, melons, and dates.

The Digdagga Agricultural Trials Station in Ra's al-Khaimah is central to all agricultural research and training efforts in the UAE. Abu Dhabi has two large wheat farms at Al 'Ayn, and experimental farms at Rawaya and Mazaid (near Al 'Ayn) are designed to encourage local Bedouins to take up settled farming. The Abu Dhabi Arid Land Research Center on Sadiyat Island produces vegetables through special irrigation and hydroponic techniques. In 2004, UAE agriculture produced 506,400 tons of vegetables and melons, and 786,000 tons of fruit. Produce includes citrus, mangos, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peppers, and fodder crops.

Crop production during 200204 was down 40% from 19992001. Dates, traditionally grown on oases by nomads, are becoming less important because of vegetable and fruit production. In 2004, the UAE produced 760,000 tons of dates. The UAE satisfies about 60% of its domestic fruit and vegetable demand; bans on imports of certain vegetables and government incentives and subsidies are used to encourage domestic production. Roses and chrysanthemums are grown for export to Europe.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Livestock production has risen sharply in recent years. In 2005, the UAE had 1,520,000 goats, 570,000 sheep, 250,000 camels, and 115,000 head of cattle. Dairy farming is centered in Ras al-Khaimah, with other dairy farms in Al Ain, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, and Dubai. The UAE produces about 90% of its dairy needs. Local poultry and egg production satisfy 27% and 40% of domestic demand, respectively. Five major producers account for 75% of the domestic chicken production. The poultry farm at Fujairah has the capacity to supply over 15% of domestic demand for broilers and eggs. Ras al-Khaimah and Al Ain are other centers of poultry production. Production of poultry meat reached 36,000 tons in 2005, with imports of poultry meat (mainly from France, Denmark, the United States, and Brazil). The UAE also re-exports poultry meat, mostly to Oman, former Soviet republics, and Iran.

FISHING

Fishing is an important source of domestic food and fodder. Per capita annual consumption of fish and shellfish in the UAE is more than any other country in the Middle East. UAE coastal waters abound in fish and shellfish, and the country borders two high-potential fishing regions, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Many varieties of fish are caught, including rock cod, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, jack, marlin, red mullet, bream, and snapper. Over 70% of the catch typically is dried and processed into animal feed and fertilizer. The fish catch in 2003 was 97,450 tons, which supplied about 50% of local demand. Modern fishing techniques have been introduced with government assistance, and two new ports permitting the use of larger fishing boats were opened in 1981. The government also provides facilities for ship maintenance pro bono, as well as interest-free loans for the purchase of fishing boats and equipment. More than 3,000 fishing vessels annually operate in UAE waters. Umm Al Quwain is the site of a new 1,300 sq m marine farm which will research fish breeding. A fishmeal plant is in operation in Ra's al-Khaimah.

FORESTRY

Natural woodland is scarce, apart from palm groves along the northern and eastern coasts. Forested areas covered 321,000 hectares (793,000 acres), or about 3.8% of the total land area in 2000. The Forestry Department planted 80 million trees during 198095, at a cost of over $3 billion, resulting in a 2.8% increase in the forested area during 19902000. Imports of forest products totaled $322.7 million in 2004.

MINING

Apart from oil and natural gas, the minerals sector included fertilizer production and production of construction materials, marble, and stone quarried from the Hajar Mountains. Copper and chromium have been found in Fujairah and Ra's al-Khaimah. In 2003, an estimated: 10,000 metric tons of chromium; 421,000 metric tons of ammonia (nitrogen content); and 400,000 metric tons of urea (nitrogen content) were produced. Lime, gypsum, hydraulic cement, and, presumably, common clays, diabase, gravel, limestone, marble sand, and shale were also produced.

ENERGY AND POWER

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federation of seven emirates, contains almost 8% of the world's proven oil reserves and is ranked fifth in the world by the size of its natural gas reserves. The UAE is also a significant exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

As of 1 January 2005, the UAE's proven reserves of crude oil totaled 97.8 billion barrels, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. Of that amount, the emirate of Abu Dhabi holds 94%, or around 92.2 billion barrels, followed by the emirate of Dubai with an estimated 4 billion barrels, and the emirates of Sharjah with 1.5 billion barrels and Ras al-Khaima with 100 million barrels of oil. In 2004, oil production was estimated at 2.76 million barrels per day, of which crude oil accounted for 2.38 million barrels per day. Domestic consumption of oil in that year averaged an estimated 430,000 barrels per day, with net exports estimated at 2.33 million barrels per day. As a member of OPEC, the UAE is subject to OPEC's crude oil production quota. As of March 16, 2005, the quota was set at 2.50 million barrels per day, which is total production capacity. In 2004, Japan accounted for an estimated 60% of the UAE's crude oil exports, with the rest of Asia accounting for 20%. As of 1 January 2005, the UAE's crude oil refining capacity was estimated at 514,250 barrels per day.

The UAE's proven natural gas reserves, as of 1 January 2005, were estimated at 212 trillion cu ft, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. The largest reserves are located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, with 196.1 trillion cu ft, with smaller reserves in the emirates of Sharjah (10.7 trillion cu ft), Dubai (4.1 trillion cu ft), and Ras al-Khaimah (1.2 trillion cu ft). In 2002, the UAE's output of natural gas was estimated at 1.28 trillion cu ft, with exports that year estimated at 0.25 trillion cu ft. Domestic consumption of natural gas has been spurred by a growing demand from the country's petrochemical and electric power industries.

All electricity is thermally generated from oil or natural gas. Electric power production was 39.622 billion kWh in 2002. Consumption of electricity that year was 36.848 billion kWh. Total installed capacity in 2002 was 5.820 million kW.

INDUSTRY

The process of industrialization gathered momentum after the formation of the federation in 1971. By 2002, manufacturing was second only to the oil sector in contributions to economic output. To diversify the economy, in the early 1990s the UAE introduced new industries, including aluminum, cement, pharmaceuticals, fabricated metals, processed foods, fertilizer, and explosives. Manufacturing as a percentage of GDP rose from 3.8% in 1980 to 7.7% in 1990 to 8.7% in 1995 to 15.1% in 2002.

The Ar-Ruwais industrial complex in Abu Dhabi includes an oil refinery with a processing capacity of 120,000 barrels per day; a fertilizer factory, with a production capacity of 1,000 tons of ammonia and 1,500 tons of urea per day; and a gas liquefaction installation. In June 2002 agreement was reached on a contract to expand the refinery capacity Ruwais refinery to 500,000 barrels per day to be completed by 2005. The UAE has five other smaller refineries: In Abu Dhabi, a 88,5000 barrels per day capacity facility run, like the Ruwais refinery, by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC); in Fujairah, a 90,000 barrels per day refinery run by Metro Oil; in Dubai, the 120,000 barrels per day Jebel Ali condensate refinery run by the Emirate National Oil Company (ENOC), first opened in 1999; near Jebel Ali, a 40,000 barrels per day second-hand gasoline unit run by ISO Octane, opened May, 2000; and in Sharjah, another second-hand unit with 71,250 barrels per day capacity opened in 2001 and run by the Sharjah Oil Refining Company (SORC). The UAE's crude oil refining capacity as of January 2001 was 514,750 barrels per day.

Near Umm An-Nar, a large plant belonging to National Chlorine Industries produces salt, chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrochloric acid. In Dubai the industrial port complex at Jebel 'Ali is the largest manmade port in the world and includes the largest dry dock in the world with capacity of one million tons. The Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) is the UAE's most developed free trade zone, including close to 200 factories, prominent among them being a major power plant with water desalination units, a steel fabrication plant, and an aluminum smelter, built in 1979, producing 290,030 tons of aluminum products per year. Plans have been announced to expand the Dubai Aluminum Company's capacity to 372,600 tons per year. Dubai's older industrial zone of Rashidiya is the site of some 40% of the emirate's processing industries. The other emirates have developed industries that produce construction-related materials such as cement, asphalt, and concrete blocks.

According to the statistics of UAE's Ministry of Finance and Industry (MOFI), there were 2,153 registered industrial establishments in 2000 (up from 1,261 in 1995) employing 176,260 people. Forty percent of the units854were in Dubai, which also accounted for 46.7% of industrial investment ($3.6 billion of $7.76 billion). Abu Dhabi accounted for 25% of investment ($2 billion) but only 10% of industrial units (235). Sharjah and Ras Al-Kaimah had industrial investment of $790 million and $763 million, respectively, each about 10% of the total. Outside of the oil sector, chemicals commanded the largest portion of investment (14.5%), with food and beverages second (11.2%). Metal production accounted for 3.6% of industrial investment and garments 0.8%.

Industry made up 58.5% of the economy in 2002, and employed around 15% of the populationwhich indicates that this sector is highly productive; agriculture participated with 4% to the overall GDP, and employed approximately 7% of the working population; services contributed with 37.5% to the economy, and represented around 78% of the labor force.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Advanced technology in the United Arab Emirates has been imported mostly by foreign oil companies and is limited largely to heavy industry. Nearly all of its technological specialists are foreigners. In the 1980s, the United Arab Emirates took major steps to decrease its reliance on foreign scientists and technicians. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has a research center in Ra's al-Khaimah. United Arab Emirates University, founded in 1976 at Al Ain, has faculties of sciences, engineering, agricultural sciences, medicine and health sciences. Ajman University College of Science and Technology was founded in 1988, Etisalat College of Engineering at Sharjah in 1989, and the Higher Colleges of Technology at Abu Dhabi in 1988. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments. High technology exports in 2002 were valued at $17 million, or 2% of all manufactured exports.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Dubai remains the most important center of trade and commerce, both for the nation and the region. Many food importers also serve as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. There are about four or five large companies controlling most of the food retail sector. Franchising has become very popular in a variety of retail sectors including, restaurants, clothing, hardware supplies, beauty products, health care products, toys, sporting goods, etc.

Business hours tend to vary, although general hours of 8 am to 1 pm and 4 to 7 pm are observed; most offices are closed Thursday afternoon, and Friday is the weekly holiday. Banks are open from 8 am to noon, Saturday through Thursday.

FOREIGN TRADE

UAE's commodity exports were crude oil (45%), natural gas, reexports, dried fish, and dates as of 2000. Imports include machinery, vehicles, electrical equipment, aircraft, cosmetics, tobacco, steel, furniture, plastics, chemicals, and food products.

In 2004, UAE's exports grew to $69.5 billion (FOBFree on Board), while its imports followed from behind at $46.7 billion (FOB). Export commodities mainly went to Japan (which received

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 32,668.9 30,544.3 2,124.6
Japan 9,932.0 182.9 9,749.1
Areas nes 6,328.4 73.0 6,255.4
Other Asia nes 6,116.4 50.8 6,065.6
Kuwait 820.1 820.1
Bahrain 537.5 537.5
India 519.3 658.1 -138.8
Other Africa nes 344.2 344.2
Iran 225.7 520.6 -294.9
United States 210.7 206.0 4.7
Saudi Arabia 142.5 394.6 -252.1
() data not available or not significant.

24.9% of total exports), South Korea (9.9%), India (5.4%), and Thailand (5.2%). Imports chiefly came from China (10%), India (9.8%), Japan (6.8%), Germany (6.5%), the United Kingdom (6.2%), France (6.1%), and the United States (6%), and included machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and food.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Oil and natural gas exports have allowed the UAE to sustain a trade surplus for many years, but changes in oil prices cause the surplus to fluctuate widely from year to year. In the early 2000s traders in the UAE were beginning to seek out new markets in locales such as Russia, the Central Asian states, and East and South Africa. The government does not provide statistics for workers' remittances, investment income, oil and gas export revenues, foreign direct investment transactions, and capital transactions, which seriously compromises the compilation of balance of payments statistics.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2000 the purchasing power parity of the United Arab Emirates' exports was $47.6 billion while imports totaled $28.6 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $19 billion.

Exports of goods and services reached $82.7 billion in 2004, and were expected to grow to $103.7 billion in 2005. Imports were expected to reach $60.2 billion in 2005, up from $54.2 in 2004. The UAE have thus managed to keep both a positive resource balance ($28.5 billion, and $43.5 billion respectively), and a positive current account balance ($12.7 billion in 2004, and an expected $26.2 billion in 2005).

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The UAE Currency Board came into existence with its issuance of the UAE dirham in May 1973. In 197576, statutes came into force providing for the board's gradual transformation into a central bank, including powers to impose minimum liquidity ratios and other credit regulations. The board was replaced in 1980 by the UAE Central Bank, with enhanced authority to regulate the banking system. Capitalized at $81.7 million, the bank was granted additional capital of $2 billion from the government in 1982, which was to increase by 20% per year until a total deposit of $4 billion had been reached.

The oil boom of the 1980s brought with it the proliferation of commercial banks, making the UAE one of the most overbanked countries in the world. By 1987, strains were beginning to show and two banks collapsed. Bad loans were prevalent and some borrowers used the Islamic prohibition on riba (interest) as an excuse not to repay debts.

UAE banks were hit hard by the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when partial withdrawals amounted to an estimated ud7 billion ($1.9 billion), or 7% of total deposits. In 1991, the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), based in the United Arab Emirates and owned in large part by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, was accused of fraudulent dealings, and closed, damaging the credibility of the UAE banking system. However, because of improvements in the banking system, in 1999 the government cleared the way for establishment of an offshore banking center to be based in the free zone on Saadiyat Island, to enable UAE to compete with Bahrain. Also in 1999, the merger of two banksNational Bank of Dubai and Emirates Bank Internationalwas announced. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $10.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $42.6 billion.

As of 2000, the United Arab Emirates was planning a stock exchange as part of the financial center on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

INSURANCE

Because of tightening federal regulations, the number of insurance companies declined from 126 in 1980 to 56 in 1987. The Federal Insurance Companies and Agents Law of 1984 requires all insurance companies established in the UAE to be public joint-stock companies, with equity wholly owned by UAE nationals. Companies already established in the country can obtain a concession from the local equity provision. Minimum capital must be ud10 million. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $971 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $744 million. In that same year, Dubai was the country's leading life insurer, with gross written life insurance premiums of $22.3 million. There was no data on the UAE's top nonlife insurer. In 1999, there were 19 National Insurance companies practicing in UAE, and 28 foreign insurance companies.

PUBLIC FINANCE

A federal budget is prepared according to the UAE's development policy, while each emirate is responsible for municipal budgets and local projects. Conservative public expenditure policies became necessary in the 1980s and 1990s, when oil revenues declined; by the 2000s, oil revenues had rebounded. Abu Dhabi's oil income accounts for the bulk of federal revenues; under the constitution, each emirate contributes 50% of its net oil income to the federal budget.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 the United Arab Emirates' central government took in revenues of approximately $34.9 billion and had expenditures of $29.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $5.5 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 17.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $30.21 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1999, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were ud20,217 million and expenditures were ud20,050 million. The value of revenues was us$5,505 million and expenditures us$5,459 million, based on a official exchange rate for 1999 of us$1 = ud3.6725 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 20.8%; defense, 30.1%; public order and safety, 13.8%; economic affairs, 4.5%; housing and community amenities, 1.6%; health, 7.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.4%; education, 17.3%; and social protection, 3.2%.

TAXATION

Each emirate has its own decrees on corporate taxation. Corporate taxes are paid only by oil companies (at rates that vary among emirates) and branches of foreign banks (at 20%). Municipal taxes are 5% on residential and 10% on commercial rents. A 5% tax is

Revenue and Grants 20,217 100.0%
     Tax revenue 3,481 17.2%
     Social contributions 92 0.5%
     Grants
     Other revenue 16,644 82.3%
Expenditures 20,050 100.0%
     General public services 4,167 20.8%
     Defense 6,027 30.1%
     Public order and safety 2,763 13.8%
     Economic affairs 910 4.5%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 329 1.6%
     Health 1,448 7.2%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 290 1.4%
     Education 3,474 17.3%
     Social protection 642 3.2%
() data not available or not significant.

imposed on hotel services and entertainment. There is no personal income tax.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Dubai, the major area for foreign trade, is a free trade zone and free port with no restrictions on imports or exports. The individual emirate governments exert no control over imports, except for licensing. Customs duties are levied ad valorem; the rates differ among the emirates but are generally nominal (4% for most goods), except for a duty of 50% on alcoholic beverages (importation of which requires special permission). The duty on tobacco was is 90% of the CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value. Duty-free imports include machinery, construction materials, foodstuffs, medicine, and printed matter. Food imports require a health certificate and meats require a certificate from a slaughterhouse that has been approved under Islamic law. Import licenses are required for all firms desiring to engage in importation. The United Arab Emirates is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The GCC has been in discussions for a common external tariff (CET) for some years.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

All the emirates are eager to attract foreign investment. One obstacle to foreign investment may be the federal requirement that investments must be on a joint venture basis with the local partner owning at least 51% of the venture. The exception is investment in the free trade zones where 100% foreign ownership is allowed. In 2002, there were 11 free trade zones in the UAE in various stages of development. Most provide 100% import and export tax exemption, 100% exemption from commercial levies, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, multiyear leases and other services, including assistance with recruiting labor. The largest and most successful is the Jebel Ali industrial free zone (JAFZ) in Dubai incorporating close to 2,000 companies from over 100 countries. The JAFZ has attracted more than $3 billion of foreign investment. In 2002, three new zones were announced: The Dubai International Financial Centre; the Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre; and the Mohammed bin Rashid Technology Zone. In 2000, Dubai Internet City, the world's first e-commerce free zone, was opened, and in 2001, the Dubai Media City began was launched. Other free zones are located in the Dubai International Airport, and in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah. Principal foreign investors are the United Kingdom, the United States, France, India, Japan, and Germany. Though reliable statistics are not available for the UAE, some reports suggest that US investment in 1999 was about $500 million. Multinational companies operating in the Jebel Ali industrial zone include the following: Samsung (ROK); Pioneer (Japan); General Motors, IBM, Mobil, and Toys "R" Us (US); and Ericsson (Sweden).

In 1996, UAE created the Abu Dhabi Free Zone Authority to regulate the development of Saadiyat Island, where there will be few restrictions on foreign companies. Companies opening offices there will be exempt from taxes, will be allowed to repatriate all profits and capital, to import labor; in addition, there will be no requirements to establish UAE partners. In 1999, the Emirates Global Capital Corporation was granted a 50-year contract to develop the 26 sq km (10 sq mi) zone, where a stock, commodities, and futures exchange was planned. However, in 2002 this project was on hold.

The UAE does not offer any statistical information on inward flows of capital, but UNCTAD estimates show that FDI totaled $480 million in 2003, down from $834 million in 2002. Despite the relative low levels of capital inflows, analysts think that FDI will play an increasingly important role in the future. Current leading sectors for investment in the UAE are oil and gas-field machinery and services, power and water, computer/peripherals, medical equipment and supplies, airport development and ground equipment, telecommunications, and franchising.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The discovery of oil opened the way for the UAE into the industrial age. The federation, formed in 1971, used its vast oil wealth during the 1970s to transform the national economy through expansion of roads, ports, airports, communications facilities, electric power plants, and water desalination facilities, as well as construction of huge oil-processing complexes. With the completion of major infrastructural projects by the early 1980s, the focus of development shifted to diversifying the economy by establishing capital-intensive industries based on oil and gas resources.

The country's major industrial projects are the Jabal 'Ali industrial zone in Dubai and the refinery complex at Ar-Ruwais in Abu Dhabi. Jabal 'Ali includes the Dubai Aluminum Co. smelter, a natural gas liquefaction plant, a cable factory, and a desalination plant that is one of the world's largest, with an output of about 25 million gallons of water daily. In mid-1995, 822 companies were operating in the Jabal 'Ali Free Zone. By 2002, this number had risen to about 2000, representing investments from over 100 countries. The United Arab Emirates now hosts 11 free trade zones. The Dubai Internet City, launched in 2000, was the world's first e-commerce free trade zone. Dubai Multi-Media City was established in 2001. In 2002 three new specialized free zones were founded: the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Technology Park.

In 1997 the Industrial Loan Fund was set up to provide finance through the Gulf Industrial Corporation (GIC) established in 1979 in Abu Dhabi. The GIC now owns a large number of industries which produce a wide variety products, including cement blocks, fodder, flour, PVC pipes, mineral waters, and aluminum.

In relation to GNP, the UAE is one of the world's major aid donors; the principal vehicle for bilateral aid has been the Abu Dhabi Fund for Arab Economic Development. The UAE makes regular annual payments to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the PLO. Responding to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the UAE made significant financial contributions to assist the frontline states and to share the cost of the foreign military forces.

In 2004, the UAE government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion, and is looking for ways to enhance the role of the private sector in the management of its utilities. Although oil will continue to be the backbone of the economy for years to come, the country's leaders recognized that a diverse and dynamic economy will prove more sustainable in the long run. Some of the main areas of economic diversification include: security and safety equipment; IT equipment and services; medical equipment, services and supplies; architecture, construction, and engineering services; building products; air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; environmental and pollution control equipment; and sporting goods and equipment.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

There is no social security law in the UAE, but many welfare benefits are available to citizens, among them free hospital treatment and medical care and subsidies for education. Relief for any domestic catastrophe is provided from a disaster fund. If the father of a family is unable to work because of illness, disability, or old age, he receives help under the National Assistance Law; should he die or divorce his wife, the woman's future is secured. UAE nationals receive many government services, including health care, water, and electricity, free of charge.

Female employment is growing in government service and in occupations such as education and health.

Women continue to suffer from official discrimination, as dictated by Islamic law. Divorce is available but difficult for a woman to obtain. Men may have more than one wife, but not more than four at one time. Women who remarry may have to give up custody of children from a previous marriage. While abuse against women does exist, it does not seem to be a pervasive problem. Child abuse is not prevalent. Many domestic servants are foreigners who are sometimes subjected to mistreatment or abuse, and poor pay.

The government restricts democratic freedoms and also limits freedoms of speech, assembly, association, press, and the right to a speedy trial.

HEALTH

Health facilities have been expanded rapidly since independence. Modern hospitals have been built in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and other towns. As of 2004, there were an estimated 202 physicians, 418 nurses, and 33 dentists per 100,000 people. In the same year, total health care expenditure was estimated at 8.4 % of GDP. Approximately 95% of the population had access to health care services, and more than 95% of the population had access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

Average life expectancy in 2005 was 75.24 years and the infant mortality rate was 14.51 per 1,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 18.3 and 3.9 per 1,000 people. Children up to one year old were immunized against tuberculosis, 98%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 90%; polio, 90%; and measles, 90%. The rates for DPT and measles were, respectively, 94% and 95%.

Typhoid fever and tuberculosis are rare; malaria remains a problem. The goiter prevalence was 40.4 per 100 school children. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.18 per 100 adults in 2003.

HOUSING

The federal government is attempting to make modern low-cost homes available to poorer families, supplying them with amenities such as piped water, sewerage systems, and electricity. The Ministry of Housing constructed about 4,000 houses for free distribution to poor families between 1978 and 1981. In 1993, government spending for housing was at about 30% of the total budget.

In 1980, 33% of all housing units were flats, 30% were traditional Arabic dwellings, 9% were low-cost housing, 8% were shacks, and the remainder were sheds, caravans, single rooms, tents, and other facilities. About 85% had water closets and 26% had electricity, piped-in water, and access to a sewage system.

At the 1995 census there were 413,178 housing units in the nation; 37% were located in Abu Dhabi and 27% were in Dubai. In 1995, the Abu Dhabi Department of Social Service and Commercial Buildings (est. 1976) began construction of 504 residential buildings and had 417 other projects in the planning stages. The department has built over 40,000 housing units since 1976.

EDUCATION

The educational system of the United Arab Emirates has burgeoned since 1971. Education in the six northern emirates, formerly financed and administered by Kuwait, has been managed by the UAE Ministry of Education since 1972. Education is compulsory for six years at the primary level, from age six, and is free to all UAE citizens, as are school uniforms, books, equipment, and transportation. Arabic is a compulsory subject and segregation of classes by sex is required. At the secondary level, children go through six years of education in two stages, three years of preparatory studies and three years of specialized studies in either sciences or the arts. Students may also choose to attend a six year technical, agricultural, or commercial school program at the secondary level. There are religious schools offering secondary studies as well. The academic year runs from September to June.

In 2001, about 70% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 83% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 71% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 71.5% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 15:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 14:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 53.8% of primary school enrollment and 38.1% of secondary enrollment.

The United Arab Emirates University is a major state-sponsored institute. Dubai University College, a private college, was founded in January 1997. In 2003, it was estimated that about 35% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs; 21% for men and 53% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 77.3%, with 75.6% for men and 80.7% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.6% of GDP, or 22.5% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library in Dubai holds 800,000 volumes, including a collection known as the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Library. The library of the Juma Al-Majid Heritage & Cultural Centre holds a collection of over 320,000 volumes. The Dubai Public Library system consists of one main and six branch locations. The Higher Colleges of Technology library (175,000 volumes) and the United Arab Emirates University library (300,000 volumes) are in Abu Dhabi.

The Dubai National Museum is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort. The Al 'Ayn Museum (1971) is an archeological institution. Sharjah is home to the Sharjah Archeology Museum, the Sharjah Heritage Museum, the Sharjah Natural History Museum, the Sharjah Science Museum, and a children's museum called the Discovery Center.

MEDIA

The communications system has been dramatically improved and expanded in recent years. Telecommunications operations in the emirates are all handled by ETISALAT. The Jabal 'Ali earth satellite station in Dubai maintains telephone and telegraph traffic, telex data transmission, and color television broadcasting; computer-controlled automatic telex systems have been installed in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In 2003, there were an estimated 281 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 736 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Nearly all of the television and radio broadcasting stations are owned and operated by the government through Abu Dhabi Radio and TV or Emirates TV. There is a Media Free Zone in Dubai where private stations are located, including those broadcasting in English and Arabic. In 2004, there were about 13 AM and 8 FM radio stations. The same year, there were 15 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 309 radios and 252 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 129 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 275 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 173 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

Arabic-language dailies published in the UAE in 2002 included: Al-Khalij (2002 circulation, 85,000), Al-Ittihad (Unity, 58,000), Al-Fajr (The Dawn, 50,000), Al-Wahdah (30,000), and Al-Bayan (32,650). There were three English-language dailies: the Gulf News (91,530) and Khaleej Times (72,000), published in Dubai, and the Emirates News (21,150), published in Abu Dhabi.

The provisional constitution provides for free expression; however, the government restricts expression in practice. All published materials must be licensed by the Ministry of Education, which governs content and allowable subjects. The media practice self-censorship on the subjects of government policy, the ruling families, national security, religion, and international relations.

ORGANIZATIONS

There are national chambers of commerce in the larger states. There are also several associations representing foreign businesses. The Federation of United Arab Emirates Chambers of Commerce and Industry is located in Abu Dhabi. There are active professional associations in several different fields, such as journalism and medicine. Various social and sporting clubs provide outlets for philanthropic work and recreation. National youth organizations include the National Union of Students of the Emirates and the Emirates Scout Association. There is a national chapter of the Red Crescent Society.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Except for Gulf nationals and citizens of the United Kingdom, most visitors must secure a visa in advance. Tourism is encouraged by all the emirates, whose varied scenery includes mountains, beaches, deserts, and oases. Activities include visits to Bedouin markets, museums, zoos, and aquariums. Many large world-class hotels have opened in recent years. The emirates attract tourists from Western Europe during the winter, when the main attractions are the beaches and sunny climate. Tourists numbered 5,871,023 in 2003.

The daily cost of staying in Dubai, according to 2005 US Department of State estimates, was $376 from June through August, and $219 the rest of the year. Estimated daily expenses for travel in Abu Dhabi were $219 that year.

FAMOUS EMIRIANS

Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan (19182004) was ruler of Abu Dhabi after 1966 and president of the UAE from 1971 until his death in 2004. His son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan (b.1948) became president of the UAE upon his father's death.

DEPENDENCIES

The UAE has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abu-Baker, Albadr S.S. Political Economy of State Formation: The United Arab Emirates in Comparative Perspective. N.p., 1996.

American University. Persian Gulf States: Country Studies. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1994.

Clements, Frank. United Arab Emirates. (rev. ed.). Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1998.

Henderson, Edward. This Strange Eventful History: Memoirs of Earlier Days in the UAE and the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai, U.A.E.: Motivate Publishing, 1993.

Oman and the United Arab Emirates. London: Lonely Planet, 2000.

Seddon, David (ed.). A Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Stannard, Dorothy. (ed.) Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Singapore: APA Publications, 1998.

Vine, Peter. United Arab Emirates: Profile of a Country's Heritage and Modern Development. London: Immel, 1992.

. United Arab Emirates in Focus. London: Trident, 1999.

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Major Cities:
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah

Other City:
Al-Ain, Ras al-Khaimah

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated January 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

The UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) lies between Qatar and Oman on the southeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. Until the exploitation of large oil reserves, the small population engaged in pearling, trading, nomadic herding and oasis agriculture. Britain held a degree of political control over the sheikhdoms of the region from early in the nineteenth century until the emirates joined to form an independent federation in 1971. Before independence the British called the region the Trucial Coast or Trucial Oman, and Arabs called it the Oman Coast.

The seven emirates which comprise the U.A.E. differ markedly in size, population, and natural resources.

Their rulers, though united under one national flag, maintain a large degree of autonomy and have imprinted their individual characters on the development of their emirates. This diversity gives the social and political scene in the country a unique and dynamic flavor. The UAE's efforts to reach an effective balance between Federal and Emirate authorities is reminiscent of the political development of the United States, where to this day individual states and the Federal government continue to find new ways to make "one out of many."

Because Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in size and population, and possesses the most oil resources, it plays a dominant role in the federation's political and economic affairs. A small fishing and pearling settlement before the discovery of oil, Abu Dhabi city has grown since independence into a modern capital with broad, tree-lined streets amid rows of skyscrapers lining the Corniche. The sedate character of the city is shaped by the dominant presence of central government institutions, financial institutions, and oil companies. In contrast, the mood in Dubai is more socially vibrant, economically open and cosmopolitan. Bustling markets, an active shipping trade, and a lively sporting and entertainment calendar put Dubai in the region's economic and social fast lane. In both cities, a walk downtown reveals the large proportion of foreigners working in the country.

Americans coming to the UAE will find a small country in the midst of rapid social and economic transformation. The seven emirates are each distinct in resources and character, ranging from the poorer, smaller emirates of the north to the dynamic commercial center of Dubai and the staid, oil-rich Abu Dhabi. These last two cities are pockets of wealth where five-star hotels feature cuisine from around the world and shops sell expensive fashions from Europe and electronics from Japan. Despite outward appearances like this, however, the UAE is still a developing country in important respects. For example, while the telephone system has the latest technologies, public hospitals are for the most part far below standard in many areas. And while UAE citizens control the country, it is foreign nationals from places like New Delhi, Dhaka, Manila, and Cairo who actually sit behind cash registers, build skyscrapers, and repair plumbing. In this sense, since the majority of the country's residents are foreigners, it is easy for foreigners to feel at home.

MAJOR CITIES

Abu Dhabi

In 2000, Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E. capital, and its surrounding metropolitan area had a population of 928,000. It is located on a small, flat island connected to the mainland by two bridges. The island is about 30 square miles in area, much of it reclaimed land, crisscrossed by an expanding road network. First a fishing village, then a small oil company town, Abu Dhabi is now a medium-sized city, which is still expanding. Most buildings are high-rise apartments, offices, and residential areas with single-and three-unit dwellings (townhouses).

Food

Several American and European-style supermarkets stock most basic items. Spinneys, Prisunic, Abela, Choitram's, and Al-Kamal are modern supermarkets that sell American, French, Mexican, Japanese, and Arab foods. Fresh foods include meat, seafood, produce, and dairy products, which are available year round. A wide and varied array of packaged and canned foods is available as in any comparable supermarket in the U.S. Fresh meat is flown in from Australia and Europe. Frozen meats and vegetables are also available. Except for occasional shortages of certain items, you will find almost any food item in Abu Dhabi stores, including an increasing amount of American brands. Pork products are available in special "non-Muslim" sections of some stores.

Clothing

Local shops and boutiques carry various types of clothing, usually European brands and styles, but they are expensive, and quality varies. Cotton or cotton-blend clothes are strongly recommended for summer; synthetics are too hot to wear. A sweater or shawl is useful for overly air-conditioned receptions. It is cool during winter (December-February), and houses hold dampness. Light woolens and synthetics are comfortable, and sweaters are useful.

Shoes, including sandals, to suit American tastes are difficult to find, and the sand makes them wear fast. A good supply is needed throughout your tour. Locally made sandals and shoes are inexpensive, but not durable.

Dry-cleaning facilities are adequate, but bring as few items that need dry-cleaning as possible. White and light-colored fabrics are subject to stains from rusty water, but filter attachments help prevent this problem.

Men: "Gulf or Red Sea rig," sometimes specified for dressy summer occasions, consists of an open-necked dress shirt and dress trousers with cummerbund. A business suit with tie is normally worn during working hours and is suitable for most evening functions.

Women: Use discretion when choosing clothes for the U.A.E., which is a Moslem country with conservative dress customs. Low-cut, short hemlines, sleeveless tops, or revealing/see-through clothes are not worn in public. Slacks are worn in public, but shorts are not advised, except for recreation. Typical evening dresses (bare shoulders, low-cut, etc.) may be worn at private functions, depending on the guest list and location. Tailored dresses are always appropriate.

Children: Teenage girls in the American school are expected to wear knee-length clothes. Bring the same type of clothes as children would wear in Washington, D.C., but light, winter clothessweaters, jackets, and long pants, etc. Children's shoes are expensive.

Supplies and Services

Unless you have strong brand preferences, most items needed can be purchased in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, but are expensive.

Tailoring and dressmaking can be reasonable. Shoe repair is available, but quality is fair. Beauty and barbershops are available and reasonably hygienic.

Religious Activities

Catholic, Anglican, and Syrian Orthodox services are held in Abu Dhabi in English, French, Arabic, and various Indian dialects. The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), a nondenominational American missionary group, also holds regular services.

Education

School-aged American children may attend the American Community School (ACS), which offers pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Of the about 500 pupils enrolled, nearly 40% are American. The remainder of the student body is multinational. All instruction is in English, and the American curriculum is followed. French is taught in the high school only, and the Arabic language and culture is taught from the lower school.

The typical school year is from September to June. Classes are held Saturday through Wednesday, from 7:25 am to 2:25 pm. As a college preparatory high school, ACS does not have programs for students with special needs. The school has two large and well-equipped science labs, a large art room, a photography lab, a music room with two adjacent practice rooms, and a cafeteria/all-purpose room, two computer labs, a gymnasium with stage, an athletic field, tennis courts, and a swimming pool.

Both the lower school (pre-kindergarten through grade 6) and the upper school (grades 7 through 11) are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The school went through re-accreditation that was completed in the fall of 1993 (which will include grade 12). The curriculum reflects that of a small American School in the U.S. The courses offered in the high school are college preparatory, and the academic load is demanding.

Several other schools exist in Abu Dhabi, some of which are listed below:

National College of Choueifat
P.O. Box 7212
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

Al-Worood School
P.O. Box 46673
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

(Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary schools)

International School of Abu
Dhabi
P.O. Box 25898 Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

(Opened in September 1992; U.S. curriculum; no U.S. accreditation as yet.)

Al Manhal Canadian School
P.O. Box 3110
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

(Accreditation by the Minister of EducationOntario)

Special Educational Opportunities

No special programs are available for students with learning disabilities.

Sports

Water-skiing, scuba diving, sailing, bowling, tennis, squash, handball, etc., are offered by various recreation clubs around town. Sports activities (with the exception of water sports) diminish during the long, hot summers when outdoor activities are kept to a minimum. Swimming pools in major recreation clubs are temperature controlled. Good fishing is available in local waters. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have ice-skating rinks. To save money, bring your own sports equipment and clothing, although most items can be purchased locally.

Recreation clubs include The Club, Hiltonia, Meridien, Intercontinental Hotel, Palm Beach, Sheraton Hotel, the Marina, Dhabi Health (Al Ain Palace Hotel) and the Khalidiya Palace Hotel.

An organized slow-pitch softball league is sponsored by some of the major American oil companies. Games are played during the cool season.

The Abu Dhabi Golf Club is an 18-hole sand course with Astroturf for fairway shots. An entrance fee of is required; as is an annual membership fee, which is higher for men than for women. There is a 12-month waiting period for men and 4 months for women. Golf enthusiasts with handicaps stand a better chance of admission. A new golf course is being planned.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Except for a small area on the east coast, scattered oases, and the northern tip of the country, the U.A.E. is desert. The mainland across from Abu Dhabi island is especially desolate. Nevertheless, driving trips to the oasis of Al-Ain, about 100 miles inland, to the beaches of Fujairah and Khor-Fakkan on the east coast, and northward to the greener areas of Ras-Al-Khaimah all provide interesting changes of scenery. Camping on the east coast is popular. A Hilton Hotel at Fujairah and the Oceanic Hotel at Khor-Fakkan are modern, attractive lodges that help to ensure overnighting for noncampers as well. At these sites, one can find boating, fishing, picnicking, swimming, and tennis.

Dubai, Al-Ain, and Ras-Al-Khaimah all have small but interesting museums, and Sharjah has an archeology museum. Al-Ain has an extensive, well-run zoo, which is worth a visit during cool weather, as well as "Fun City," an amusement park popular with families. Dubai also has a small zoo, and with its picturesque creek filled with dhows and with its historic wind towers, offers weekend diversions. Several archeological sites have been discovered and can be reached easily. The Heritage Village in the Bateen airport area and the Abu Dhabi Women's Handicrafts Center are worthwhile visiting. Visitors can stay overnight in Al-Ain at either the Hilton Hotel or the Intercontinental Hotel and in Dubai at one of the several large, modern hotels there. A shopping trip to the souks in any Arab country is a must. The U.A.E. is no exception. The gold souk in Dubai has a large selection of 18 and 21/22 carat gold. Sharjah has a new souk, an impressive building in its use of mosaic tiles and traditional designs. There you will find a varied selection of Persian handmade carpets and tribal rugs, plus hundreds of other items, mostly imported.

A visit to Oman is worth the effort. An agricultural and trading center for centuries, Oman's more settled population has had time to develop interesting architecture and crafts, which are lacking among the Bedouin population of the U.A.E. The old souks and towns retain an unspoiled atmosphere. The Musandam peninsula, which juts out into the Strait of Hormuz, can be reached by four-wheel-drive vehicles and is rightly considered the "Norway" of the Middle East with its spectacular "fjord-like" sea inlets.

Entertainment

The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation offers various cultural activities throughout the year. Most hotels have good restaurants and disco nightclubs. Performing artists are sponsored by the hotels, USIS, the British Council, the French Cultural Center, and private businesses. Performances usually take place in the hotels.

Local groups include the Abu Dhabi Choral Group, Emirates Natural History Group, the Thespians of Abu Dhabi Society or TOADS (drama), and various sporting societies.

Social Activities

The diplomatic and foreign community is large. The American community, although not formally organized, participates with the U.S. Embassy staff in such events as U.S. Navy ship visits and Fourth of July activities. The ACS is also a focus of American activity. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and a PTA are active.

International contacts can be made at any cultural activity, but more specifically, at the Emirates Natural History Group and the Women in Abu Dhabi monthly meetings. Both organizations present guest speakers, activities, slide shows, and exhibits. They also sponsor excursions for members to places of interest.

Dubai

Dubai is actually just one of the U.A.E.'s largest metropolitan areas. It is a tri-city region of over one million people, that includes not only Dubai, but the contiguous cities of Sharjah and Ajman as well. This metropolitan area is the commercial center of the U.A.E. For decades, the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman area has been an important stop on the Eastern trade routes.

Food

Several large Western-style grocery stores operate in Dubai. Safeway, Spinneys, and Choitram's carry American and international brands of food and fresh meat, produce, and dairy products. There are also large, open-air markets that sell fresh produce, meat, and fish.

Religious Activities

Services are held in English at the Protestant and Catholic churches.

Education

The American School of Dubai has about 650 (about 55% are American) students from kindergarten to grade 11. Send records in advance to:

The Headmaster
Jumairah International School
P.O. Box 2222
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The school follows the U.S. curriculum and calendar. It is owned by a group of companies and accredited by both the Middle States and Southern States School Associations. Classes are held Sunday through Thursday from 7:50 am to 2:45 pm, September to June.

The National College of Choueifat at Sharjah, some 10 miles from Dubai, has classes for students ages 4-18. An offshoot of the parent school in Beirut, which was founded in 1886, the school prepares students for the International Baccalaureate Degree, O and A levels. The medium of instruction is English, French, and Arabic. The academic year is from September to June. The school week is Saturday through Wednesday from 8 am to 4 pm. For more information, write to:

The Director
National College of Choueifat
P.O. Box 2077
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Sports

Water sports are popular, and, for most people, they are the only outdoor activities during the hottest part of the year. Most sports activities center around five social clubs.

The Hilton Beach Club is popular among the foreign community at large. In addition to beach facilities, it has two swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, squash courts, exercising and fitness center, and a restaurant/bar. Family membership is over $1,100 plus an entrance fee of over $500.

The Metropolitan Beach Club offers tennis, squash, billiards, gymnasium, sauna, windsurfing, and a swimming pool. Annual membership fee is About $900 plus $200 joining fee, and over $600 plus $130 joining fee for singles.

The Emirates Golf Club Dubai offers a 27-hole golf course, tennis courts, squash courts, gymnasium, and a swimming pool. Annual subscription for a family with two children is about $4,100; single man $3,000; single lady $2,100.

The Dubai Country Club has a 36-hole sand golf course, tennis and squash courts, and a swimming pool. The club has a restaurant/bar, which is open daily. Membership is limited to 1,500 people, and waiting periods of several months occur. Family memberships is $1,096 annually; $712 for a single man and $438 for a single woman.

The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club has limited facilities for those who like sailing. Owning a boat is a prerequisite for membership. The Club has three boats for rent by members only. It has a bar, restaurant, moorings, and a small beach with showers and changing rooms. Annual dues are about $410 to join and $136 annually.

Several hotels offer swimming, sports, and health club services at individual rates of about $500 a year.

Entertainment

Dubai has many good restaurants offering Chinese, Japanese, Continental, Indian, Pakistani, and Arab cuisine. Several hotels, including the Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental, and Sheraton, offer extensive luncheon buffets, which feature Arab-style "mezzas" (smorgasbord). Several nightclubs have bands and dancing nightly. Most hotels offer live entertainment in the evenings.

A new cinema, Al-Nask, now shows current English-language movies.

Three lending libraries are available: the Dubai Municipal Library, the British Council Library, and the Dubai Lending Library.

Social Activities

Most of the estimated 4,500 Americans in the U.A.E. live in the Dubai Sharjah area, and many important U.S. firms have offices in Dubai. This American community, coupled with a Consular Corps representing 20 countries, insures an active social life for Americans in Dubai.

Sharjah

Sharjah, chief city in the emirate of the same name, is the third largest city in the U.A.E., with a population of 314,000 (2000 est.). A former British protectorate, the city was the site of a British base until 1971. Once the principal town in the area, Sharjah declined until oil was discovered offshore in 1974. Connected by roads to the northern emirates, Sharjah experienced a construction boom in the mid-1970s. Tourism is also important in Sharjah. In recent years, a deep water port has been constructed at Khor-Fakkan and light industries expanded. The U.A.E.'s fisheries research station is located here.

Education

Two English-language schools are located in Sharjah. The International School of Choueifat at Sharjah, some 10 miles from Dubai, has classes for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 13. An off-shoot of the parent school in Beirut which was founded in 1886, the school offers a British curriculum and prepares students for the International Baccalaureate degree. The medium of instruction is English, French, and Arabic. The academic year is from September to June. School days run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., five days per week, Saturday through Wednesday. Enrollment is 1,300; there are 77 full-time instructors. Facilities include 16 buildings, science and computer laboratories, a covered play area, and a 5,000-volume library. The school's address is: P.O. Box 2077, Sharjah, U.A.E.

OTHER CITY

AL-AIN , (population 226,000, 1995 est.) is the largest city in the Buraimi Oasis, an area which spans the border between Abu Dhabi and Oman. Surrounded by red sand dunes and a breathtaking mountain range, it has earned the nickname "The Garden City Of The Gulf." As the birthplace of Shaikh Zayed, the current ruler of Abu Dhabi, funding for a variety of cultural, educational, and social attractions has been quite substantial and travelers can enjoy all the modern accommodations of a larger city while still experiencing the uniqueness of the Arab culture.

The Al-Ain Zoo and Aquarium is a favorite attraction which showcases such animals as Arabian antelope and deer; oryx, eland, gazelle and lechwe; and big cats, such as lion, tigers, pumas, black and spotted leopards and jaguars. A large Camel Souk (market) can be found in Al-Ain. It's open every Friday, since that is the same day as the famous camel races during the winter months. Tour guides are usually around to arrange camel safaris that range from a short trek of an hour or two to an overnight journey with a stay in a Bedouin tent.

The Al-Ain Museum is a great touring site for those interested in Bedouin history and culture. he museum contains exhibits on life in pre-oil days, as well as jewelry, weaponry, and musical instruments of the Bedouins. he museum also holds the collection of rare and unusual gifts received by the Shaikh, including the Order of Isabel the Catholic and a bullet from a Palestinian commando leader who hijacked three aircraft to Jordan in 1970.

Al-Hili Fun City, the largest theme park in the Gulf area, has been called the Disneyland of the Middle East. Located just northeast of city center, the park has a nice variety of thrill rides ranging from roller coasters to large slides. A Dynamic Motion Theater is also part of the parks attractions. Admission is just about US$3.

There are several small public parks within the city, including, Al-Slmi Park, Al-Jahli Park (for ladies and children only), Al-Basra Park (ladies), and Al-Maqam Park (ladies).

The mountain range above Al-Ain is Jabal Hafit. It is the highest point in the country and tourists can reach the peak along an excellent mountain road. Several picnic and parking areas are located along the road. The slopes around the mountain contain caves that can be explored through group tours. Visitors can also enjoy the hot springs at the bottom of the mountain. The Ain Al-Fayadah Resort, located on the west of the mountain, offers typical tourist accommodations. There are two swimming pools in the resort, one for men and one for women. Other facilities include a bowling center and Western and Eastern style restaurants.

If you have a chance, Buraimi, the Omani sister city to Al-Ain, can be visited without a separate visa. The Buraimi Souk offers a provincial open air market of fruits and vegetables and a small-town atmosphere that is quite different from Al-Ain.

Al-Ain is a two hour drive east from Abu Dhabi. There are plenty of buses and taxis within the city.

RAS AL-KHAIMAH city is an ancient seaport near which archaeo-logical remains have been discovered. The city and the emirate are the most agricultural in the U.A.E., producing vegetables, dates, fruit, and tobacco. The city's industries include cement factories, a lime factory, and an explosives plant. In 1982, oil and gas were discovered offshore. The city's population is about 130,000 (2000 est.). The Ras al-Khaimah English Speaking School, founded in 1976, offers a U.K. curriculum for nursery school through grade six. The school's mailing address is: P.O. Box 975, Ras al-Khaimah, U.A.E.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) became a sovereign, independent country on December 2, 1971, after being a British protectorate. It comprises a federation of seven small Arabian emirates formerly known as the Trucial States: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah, and Fujairah.

The U.A.E. (about the size of Maine) has an area of about 34,000 square miles, with a 386-mile coastline on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. All the main towns, with the exception of the oasis of Al-Ain, are on the coast. Apart from a mountain range in the north and scattered oases, much of the U.A.E.'s territory is sandy desert, and salt marshes. A few offshore islands belong to or are claimed by the U.A.E.

Rainfall is low, but coastal humidity is uncomfortably high. May to October is extremely hot, with shade temperatures of 29°C (85°F) to 50°C (122°F) and frequent 100% humidity. During the cool season (December-February) the weather is damp and seems colder than the 10°C (50°F) the thermometer sometimes indicates. During the rest of the year, the climate is pleasant, except for occasional sandstorms and hot, dry winds, which blow off the Empty Quarter of Arabia.

Population

Figures published in 2000 put the population of the country at more than 2.4 million, with about 60% males and 40% females. Recent population figures show a total of more than 2 million. U.A.E. citizens constituted about 20% of the total. The other 80% represent different nationalities who live here, which include foreign Pakistanis, Indians, and Iranians, Filipinos, and various Arab and European nationalities.

Many men from India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Oman have left their families to seek their fortunes in the U.A.E., working at unskilled and semiskilled jobs, and earning wages higher than any they could hope to earn in their own countries. This influx, coupled with the Arab tradition of secluding women, creates the overwhelmingly male crowds seen on streets in the souk (market place), in restaurants, and in other public places.

Islam is the predominant religion throughout the country, but with such a large foreign population, Hinduism and Christianity are also evident. Churches (which include the Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, and other denominations) conduct their services in English and several other languages. Arabic is the official language, but English, Persian, Hindi, Tagalog, and Urdu are widely spoken.

Public Institutions

The U.A.E. is governed by a Supreme Council composed of the rulers of the seven emirates. There is an executive Council of Ministers and a consultative Federal National Council consisting of 40 nominated members. The Constitution guarantees basic personal, legal, and social rights. It also defines the role of the Federal Government and its relationship to individual emirate governments.

The Federal Government has responsibility for foreign affairs; armed forces and defense; internal security; law and government affairs in the capital; affairs of Federal employees and the judiciary; Federal finance, taxes, fees, and royalties; postal and telegraphic services; road construction and maintenance of main highways; air traffic control and licensing; education; public health and medical services; currency, information; and passport, immigration, and nationality matters.

The U.A.E., whose armed forces consists of 60,000 troops, contributes a few hundred troops to the Gulf Cooperation Council's "Peninsula Shield" force, headquartered in Saudi Arabia. These forces participated in the Gulf War.

In the past, many of these services were performed by the individual emirates. Now, however, the Federal Government, headquartered in Abu Dhabi and organized into functional ministries, is active throughout the country. Ministers are drawn from ruling families and leading citizens of the seven emirates. The individual emirates, however, retain a remarkable measure of control over their own internal and economic affairs, including petroleum concessions, industrial development, public works and utilities, security, customs, and town planning.

Civil and criminal legal systems have been codified. There is a dual system of Sharia (religious) and secular courts, each of which deals with criminal and civil law. Secular Courts fuse Sharia law with legal principles found in Jordanian, Egyptian, Sudanese, and English legal systems. No political parties or organizations exist.

Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society but have not fundamentally altered this traditional political system.

Arts, Science, and Education

The rapid introduction of large amounts of wealth, technology, and foreign workers into the UAE has resulted in the wholesale transformation of social and cultural life. Before this transformation, the Oman Coast's urban culture was influenced by Oman and Iran. What local traditions that existed were often oral, employing poetry, singing, and story-telling. Material culture, from architecture to handicrafts, was at a basic level. Since most settlements were on the coast and relied on the products of the local waters for a livelihood, much of what can be considered traditional UAE culture revolves around pearling, fishing, and seamenship. In addition, Bedouin influences are also strong, and the ruling family's Bedouin origins ensure that the culture and sports of the desert (camel racing, falconry, and Bedouin song and dance, for example) are closely intertwined with the national image and an integral part of national celebrations.

The government supports a number of organizations dedicated to preserving U.A.E. traditional handicrafts and folklore practices. the U.A.E. Women's Association operates a handicraft center in Abu Dhabi where basketry and weaving are carried out. Sharjah, which was the region's most important city in the 19th century, has made a special effort to rebuild its traditional urban quarters. Visitors can get an idea of the way of life before the coming of oil by walking through the city's renovated Old Souq and the Ethnographic Museum, the former house of a wealthy pearling family. Archeologists continue to find evidence of early habitation of the region, and museums in Al Ain and Sharjah, for example, have displays of many artifacts. An as evidence to how far they have come since the coming of oil, the UAE has produced artists in the fields of painting, theater, music, and literature who contribute to the cultural development of their country and the enrichment of Arab culture in general.

The few Western-style cultural outlets include English-language movie theaters, and touring singers and theater troupes whose performances are sponsored by major hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

As in other parts of the Islamic world, for many years mosques served as a center for teaching in Coastal Omanprincipally reading, writing, and recitation of the Quran, Islam's Holy Book. In the early part of the 20th century, leading pearl merchants established schools staffed by foreign teachers in the main coastal towns. The first school offering a comprehensive curriculum was built by the British in 1953. For a period during the 1950s and 1960s, Kuwait and other Arab States contributed to the educational system. (Only recently have UAE nationals begun replacing Arabs as school teachers at all levels.) The founding of the UAE saw a tremendous expansion of education, with spending for this area second only to defense in the first national budgets.

Education through the secondary level is compulsory and free through college for UAE nationals. United Arab Emirates University opened in 1977 in Al Ain and has faculties in arts, science, education, political science, business administration, Islamic jurisprudence, agriculture, medicine, and engineering. Enrollment in 1991-92 was around 10,000, with more than twice as many women as men. Many UAE nationals pursue higher degrees overseas, most going to the U.S. Technical and agricultural training is provided at the Higher Colleges of Technology, which have branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain. There are many private schools (including American Schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai), which cater to the various foreign communities. The literacy rate in 1995 was estimated at 79%.

Commerce and Industry

The U.A.E.'s economy depends on its oil income, estimated at $20.6 billion in 2000, giving its citizens one of the world's highest per capita GDP income figures at about $22,800.

The major centers of economic activity are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Abu Dhabi produces about 85% of the country's oil and imports building materials, machinery, food, electrical appliances, cars, medicines, and almost everything else. Dubai, which produces most of the rest of the U.A.E.'s oil, also engages in a sizable reexport trade. It reexports textiles, consumer electronics, cameras, watches, gold, motorscooters, and perfumes to Iran, India, Pakistan, and other Gulf states. Most reexport trade is carried by motorized dhows (locally built triangular-rigged sailing vessels). Dubai has been called the Hong Kong of the Gulf because of its mercantile and entrepot activity and the atmosphere of free enterprise that prevails there. Dubai also has the Jebel Ali Free Zone, the largest and most successful in the Middle East. Sharjah has become a big gas producer and is the manufacturing center of the U.A.E.

The Abu Dhabi port, Mina Zayid, is being expanded and will have 29 berths. However, it remains under-used. Sharjah and Fujairah have developed ports on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, respectively, which feature facilities for containerized cargo. In addition to Dubai's large central port of Mina Rashid, the Dubai government built a huge 180-berth port in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The demand for goods, most of which must be imported, resulted in rapid inflation during the 1970s and early 1980s. With the later fall in oil prices; however, the economy went into recession, and local prices have now stabilized, although at a level high, by U.S. standards.

The typical Abu Dhabi investor shuns long-term industrial investments in favor of commerce or housing construction projects, which offer more immediate returns. Although houses with Western-style floor plans are still in short supply, apartments in high-rise buildings are readily available. Rents in Abu Dhabi are kept at artificially high levels by a government-run scheme designed to benefit U.A.E. nationals who own rental property.

Industrial development in the U.A.E. is still in its early stages and is concentrated in hydrocarbon-related projects. Dubai has constructed an aluminum plant and a drydock capable of handling the largest supertankers.

In recent years, the U.A.E. has expanded its agricultural production significantly through the extensive application of large, government subsidies, and seasonal surpluses of some vegetables are even exported. A project established by the Arid Lands Research Center of the University of Arizona has produced good results with hydroponic cultivation of vegetables; another team from the same university has a prototype commercial farm based on saltwater irrigation near Fujairah. Other horticultural projects are flourishing in Al-Ain and Digdaga. An import tax on vegetables now exists to protect the market for locally grown vegetables. The government is encouraging livestock and poultry production and expanded commercial fishing. It is unlikely, however, that the U.A.E. will become self-sufficient in foodstuffs.

Transportation

Local

Although getting around by taxi is relatively easy, most travelers prefer the convenience of a personally owned vehicle. Taxis are plentiful and fares reasonable but costly for intercity travel. Meters are used for trips within Abu Dhabi. Taxis are scarce during peak hours, late at night, and in the early hours of the morning, particularly off the main streets. Not all drivers understand English. Al-Ghazal taxis offer round-the-clock service and are similar to a limousine service. They may be booked by telephone or found outside major hotels. Some areas in the cities are served by public buses, but most travelers prefer to use personally owned vehicles.

Regional

Abu Dhabi emirate covers 30,000 square miles, or almost 90% of the U.A.E. land area, with the remaining emirates making up only 4,000 square miles. The bulk of the population is concentrated in eight main townsthe seven emirate capitals and the oasis of Al-Ain in Abu Dhabi emirate. A network of good, hard-surfaced roads connects these cities.

Abu Dhabi proper is linked with Al-Ain and the other emirates by fourlane divided highways. Other highways link the U.A.E. with neighboring Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The U.A.E. has six international airports. The two largest airports are located in the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

The UAE has an excellent telecommunications infrastructure, with direct-dial international links and services such as pagers, mobile phones, faxes, and connection to the Internet. There are locally based operators for AT&T, MCI, and Sprint.

Radio and TV

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al-Khaimah, and Umm Al-Kuwait all have radio stations. Abu Dhabi's AM band broadcasts in Arabic, French, Urdu, Bengali, and Tagalog and 2 hours in English. English is also broadcast on the FM band for 17 hours and on SW for 2 hours. Dubai broadcasts in English on FM and Arabic on AM band. Ras Al-Khaimah and Umm Al-Kuwait broadcast Arabic on the AM band. Many Americans also listen to the BBC and VOA on shortwave radios; however, reception is sometimes poor.

The emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah have TV stations. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have two channels each, one in Arabic, and the other mostly in English. U.A.E. viewers with good antennas can also receive transmissions from neighboring countries.

The U.A.E now abides by intellectual property agreements. Pirated audio and video cassettes, once prevalent in the market, have largely disappeared from store shelves. Selections of legitimately licensed product are only fair, but are improving. Prices for CD's and cassette tapes are roughly equivalent to U.S. prices. Prerecorded video tapes are more expensive, and selection is sparse, though improving. All music and video programs sold in the UAE are subject to Government censorship.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The country has five Arabic daily papers, three in Abu Dhabi, one in Dubai, and one in Sharjah. Abu Dhabi has one English-language daily paper and Dubai has two, all of which are available throughout the U.A.E. All papers feature stories from the Western wire services, such as Reuters, AP, and UPI. News is fairly current, but some may be censored. The International Herald Tribune, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal can be purchased locally 1-3 days after publication. The major British dailies can also be purchased.

Distribution of Time, Newsweek, and the Economist is timely, although articles offending local moral or political sensitivities are censored. Some bookstores carry a wide selection of English-language magazines, but at high prices (i.e., five or more times U.S. prices).

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have several government hospitals, including OB/GYN hospitals, capable of handling emergencies and routine medical care. However, they are not up to Western standards. Personnel at the hospitals are usually recruited from Egypt, Lebanon, India, and the Philippines.

There are several private clinics and laboratories available. Dental clinics staffed by dentists from the U.S., Sweden, U.K., and France are satisfactory.

Local pharmacies are well stocked with medications from Europe. However, bring your own supply of prescription medication.

Community Health

The government is working to improve the water and sewage systems, and residential areas are fumigated regularly.

Preventive Measures

Tap water in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is generally safe to drink; however, tanks and pipes may be rusty or contaminated. Most people prefer to drink bottled water, which is available for inexpensive home delivery. Malaria is a risk only in the mountainous area near the Omani border.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

Most major airlines have daily flights from Europe to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

A passport and visa are required. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Suite 700, 1255 22nd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400.

UAE customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from UAE of items such as firearms, including fireworks, pornographic materials, medications, religious materials and communication equipment. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of UAE in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Americans living in or visiting the UAE are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai, where they can obtain updated information on travel and security within the UAE. the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located on 11th St., also known as Al-Sudan St., P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 443-6691, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 443-5786. The after hours telephone number is (971) (2) 443-4457. The Embassy internet web site is http://www.usembabu.gov.ae. The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 331-3115, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 331-6935. The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday.

Social Customs & Laws

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

The penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal substances are strict in the UAE, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. A variety of drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States are classified as narcotics in the UAE. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country.

In addition, the UAE's tough antinarcotics program also includes poppy seeds on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of any controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

If suspected of being under the influence of drugs, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests so that local authorities may make a determination as to usage. UAE authorities have been known to arrest travelers upon their arrival into the UAE and, based on recent prior drug use, to prosecute these travelers.

Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment, as well as fines. Penalties are generally assessed according to religious law. If imprisoned, bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels. However, this alcoholic beverage service is for those persons who are staying at the hotel. Persons not staying at the hotel who come in to use the facility's bar technically are required to have their own personal liquor license. Liquor licenses are obtainable only by non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense.

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be arrested and imprisoned.

Pets

UAE customs authorities also impose additional requirements for the importation of pets into the country. Prior permission in the form of a permit from the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries must be secured before the pet's travel. To obtain the permit, the following items will need to be submitted to the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at the following address: P.O. Box 213, Abu Dhabi, UAE, telephone number 971-2-662-781 or 971-2-485-438. a). the pet's travel itinerary; b). copies of veterinary health certificates, showing that the animal is free of disease and indicating all shots which have been given to the pet; c). the sex and color of the pet; and d). a completed import permit application form (available from the ministry).

Some American and British brands of pet food and cat litter are stocked in all supermarkets.

Firearms & Ammunition

No weapons or ammunition may be imported or acquired in the country.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

Basic currency is the U.A.E. dirham (DH), which is divided into 100 fils. The dirhams come in 500, 200, 100, 10, and 5-bill denominations, and coins in 1 Dirham, 50, 25, 10, and 5 fils. Exchange generally averages about DH 3.67 = US$1 (1998). Many banks provide full banking services. Dollar and sterling travelers checks are readily available.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan.1 New Year's Day

Aug. 6Sheikh Zayed Accession Day

Dec. 2 & 3 U.A.E. National Day

Mawlid an Nabi*

Id al-Fitr*

Waqfa*

Id al-Adha*

Muharram*

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Abdallah, Muhammad Morsy. The United Arab Emirates: A Modern History. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1978.

Al-Otaiba, Mana Saeed. Petroleum and The Economy of The United Arab Emirates. London: Croom Helm, 1977.

Anthony, John Duke. Arab States of the Lower Gulf: People, Politics, Petroleum. Washington, D.C.: The Middle East Institute, 1975.

Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, latest edition.

Belgrave, Charles. The Pirate Coast. London: Bell, 1966.

Bibby, Geoffrey. Looking for Dilmun. New York: Knopf, 1969.

Bousted, Hugh. The Wind of Morning. London: Chatto & Windus, 1971.

Buharna, Hussain. The Arabian Gulf States, Their Legal and Political Status. Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1975.

Busch, Briton Cooper. Britain and the Persian Gulf, 1894-1914. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967.

Dickson, H.R.P. The Arab of the Desert. London: Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1949.

Fenelon, K.G. The United Arab Emirates. London: Longman, 1976.

Gerard, Bernard. The United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.: Ministry of Information, 1973.

Guillaume Alfred. Islam. Penguin Books: Baltimore, 1961.

Halpern, Manfred. The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Hawley, Donald. The Trucial States. London: Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1970.

Heard-Bey, Frauke. From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. London: Longmans, 1982.

Hitti, Philip K. History of the Arabs. MacMillan: London, 1956.

Hogarth, David George. The Penetration of Saudi Arabia. Beirut: Khayats, 1966.

Holden, David. Farewell to Arabia. London: Faber and Faber, 1966.

Hourani, George Fadlo. Arab Sea-faring. Beirut: Khayats, 1964.

Kelly, J.B. Eastern Arabian Frontiers. London: Faber and Faber, 1964.

Mann, Clarence C. Abu Dhabi: Birth of an Oil Sheikhdom. Beirut: Khayats, 1963.

Mansfield, Peter. The New Arabians. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Co., 1981.

Marlowe, John. The Persian Gulf in the Twentieth Century. London: The Cresset Press, 1962.

Morris, Claud. The Desert Falcon. London: Grosvenor Press, 1974.

Niyes, James H. The Clouded Lens, Persian Gulf Security and U.S. Policy. Stanford University: Hoover Institution Press, 1979.

Nyrop, Richard F., ed. Persian Gulf States, A Country Study (area Handbook Series). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984.

Peck, Malcolm C. United Arab Emirates: A Profile. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985.

. The United Arab Emirates, A Venture In Unity. Colorado: Western Press, 1986.

Philby, H. Sir John B. The Empty Quarter. London: Constable and Co., Ltd., 1933.

Qafishet, Hamdi A. Basic Gulf Arabic. Beirut: Khayats, 1970. Raban, Jonathan. Arabic Through the Looking Glass. London: Collins Harvill, 1979.

Ramahi, Seif A. El-Wady. Economics and Political Evolution in the Arabian Gulf States. New York: Carlton Press, Inc., 1973.

Taryam, A.O. The Establishment of The United Arab Emirates 1950-1985. London: Croom Helm, 1977.

Thesiger, Wilfred. Arabian Sands. New York: Viking Press, 1984.

Tomkinson, Michael. The United Arab Emirates. London: Tomkinson Pub., 1975.

Watt, Montgomery W. Mohammed: Prophet and Statesman. Oxford University Press: Oxford, England, 1961.

Wilson, Sir Arnold F. The Persian Gulf. Westport, CT: Hyperion Pr., 1981.

Zahlan, Rosemarie Said. The Origins of The United Arab Emirates: A Political and Social History of The Trucial States. New York: St. Martin's, 1978.

. Modern Gulf States. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) controls the southeastern portion of the Arabian peninsula south of the states of Bahrain and Qatar. The federation covers 82,820 square kilometers (31,976 square miles) and is bordered on the north by the Persian Gulf and Iran, on the east by Oman, and on the south and west by Saudi Arabia. The UAE separates Oman from the Musandam peninsula and extends 90 kilometers (145 miles) along the Gulf of Oman, an area known as the al-Batinah coast. The UAE is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maine.

POPULATION.

The population of the UAE is between 2.8 million and 3 million. About 85 percent of them live in cities that straddle the country's Arabian/Persian Gulf coastline. UAE cities tend to be ethnically heterogeneous and male, while there are more women and UAE nationals in rural areas. The 3 largest emiratesAbu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjahcollectively govern 84.3 percent of the population. Close to 80 percent of the population is comprised of expatriate nationals and nearly 63 percent of the population is male. Nearly 96 percent of Emiratis are Muslim. South Asians, mainly Indians and Pakistanis, make up 50 percent of the population. The next 3 largest expatriate ethnic groups are Iranians (2.5 percent), Arabs from other parts of the Middle East (13 percent), and Westerners (1 percent).

By all accounts the population is growing very rapidly. According to the UAE's Central Bank, the UAE's population grew by 5.5 percent between 1993 and 1997. The UAE government expects population to double by 2010, whereas Dubai projects the emirate's population to double by 2005. The World Bank projected a 37 percent increase in population, but with 30 percent of the current population under the age of 15, this still represents an important demographic shift. By contrast, the United Nations anticipates the UAE's population to double by 2029.

The principal causes of this rapid population growth are the federation's booming economy and the govern-ment's encouragement of UAE nationals to have large families. The UAE government provides substantial financial incentives for UAE nationals to marry each other and to raise large families. The UAE government hopes that this would help to balance the federation's population, which is overwhelmingly composed of expatriates.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

The UAE is a tribal federation of 7 emirates occupying a portion of the southeastern Arabian peninsula. It is one of the most economically secure states in the world. The UAE controls 98 billion barrels of oil10 percent of the world's proven oil reservesas well as 212 trillion cubic feet of gas, the fourth largest amount in the world after Russia, Iran, and Qatar. The UAE has employed its natural resources and its strategic location to become one of the most modern and wealthiest states in the world. It boasts both large petroleum and non-petroleum sectors. Economic growth in large part has hinged on the price of oil and the ability of UAE governments, whose proceeds come almost entirely from oil sales, to invest in large infrastructure projects.

For much of the last 2 centuries, the inhabitants of the UAE depended on pearling, fishing, commerce, and, allegedly, piracy of commerce in the Indian Ocean. To protect its trade routes to India, Great Britain attacked many communities along the UAE's Arabian/Persian Gulf coast in 1819 and 1820 and for the next 50 years extended an informal protectorate (protection and partial control of one region or dependent country by another country) over the region, which became known as the "Trucial Coast" because of the non-aggression pacts (or truces) that Great Britain forced regional emirates to sign with each other and Britain.

The region "entered" the 20th century in the 1950s with the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi and subsequent discoveries of oil in Dubai and Sharjah in the 1960s. Following Britain's withdrawal from the Trucial Coast in 1971, the UAE became an independent state composed of 7 of the original 9 emirates. The other 2 emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, became separate independent states. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and to a lesser extent, Sharjah, used the proceeds from oil sales to build modern, urban societies. Dubai, with substantially smaller oil supplies than Abu Dhabi, sought to build commercial institutions, leisure industries, manufacturing, port and transportation facilities, and other service industries that were not dependent on oil proceeds. The crown jewel of this project is the Jebel Ali Free Zone , which opened in 1985 and now boasts 1,600 international companies from over 70 different nations. Sharjah too has sought to broaden its economy by investing in manufacturing. Since the early 1980s, Abu Dhabi has invested billions of dollars in nonoil industries, including manufacturing, services, and agriculture. After the Gulf War, the UAE used the glut in the world arms industry to mandate an "offsets" program requiring all firms selling weapons to the federation to invest in its non-oil related industries.

Because the UAE had a relatively poor and unskilled population when oil was discovered there, the federation has depended on expatriate laborers and managers to meet close to 90 percent of its labor demands. The vast majority of these expatriate workers are South Asian, though there are large numbers of Arab and Western expatriate workers. Expatriates earn half as much as UAE nationals but present 3 significant problems. First, expatriate workers may undermine the UAE by promoting their own governments' interests or that of organized crime within the federation. Second, expatriate workers often require high payments for social services and send virtually all of their salary home rather than spending it in the UAE. Third, expatriate workers intensify preexisting social divisions within the UAE since they tend to be the principal workers in non-oil UAE industries, while UAE nationals generally prefer to work for the government.

The federation cannot regularly feed itself or meet its water and electrical needs without significant imports or technological assistance. The UAE's hot and arid climate has few regions hospitable to large-scale farming. While the UAE has invested heavily in new technologies and irrigation systems, the federation's agricultural production cannot produce adequate amounts of the most basic commodities. Nor can the UAE meet the water needs of the federation for much longer due to the gradual poisoning through salinization (to become concentrated with salt) of the federation's extensive underground network of wells. Similarly, the demand for electricity is quickly outpacing supply and forcing the UAE to turn to desalinization plants as a way to provide adequate water and power resources for the federation since they generate energy as a byproduct of turning salt water into fresh water. These problems are particularly acute in the northern emirates, which lack the resources to meet the demand of their population for either water or electricity.

Still, the UAE has the financial and institutional resources to solve these problems. The UAE can depend on the proceeds from the sale of its petroleum and natural gas. Abu Dhabi has US$150 billion in overseas assets that can either cover budget shortfalls due to excessive spending or a sharp decline in oil prices. Equally importantly, the UAE's free market system and open economy has fostered the creation of numerous medium and large corporations that produce highly competitive goods for the regional and world markets.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

The UAE is a federation of 7 tribally-based emirates (Arab royal houses): Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Qawain. Even though it has a central government based in Abu Dhabi, each emirate controls its own economy and retains broad autonomy. The federation's highest constitutional authority, the UAE Supreme Council of Ministers, is composed of the 7 emirate rulers; it establishes federal policies and sanctions legislation. Most council decisions are reached through a consensus of the emirates' rulers and leading families. Since the council meets 4 times a year, the UAE cabinet runs the day-to-day affairs of the federation. Through an informal agreement, the ruler of Abu Dhabi serves as president, and the ruler of Dubai serves as vice president and prime minister. The president chooses the cabinet and members of the federal judiciary. The Federal National Council, composed of representatives appointed by the ruler of each emirate, can comment on legislation proposed by the UAE cabinet. There is also a UAE Supreme Court composed of 5 judges that carries out 3 functions: it settles disputes between different emirates, settles disputes between individual emi-rates and the federal government, and decides on the constitutionality of federal laws.

Throughout the UAE's 3 decades of existence, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Shaykh Zayid al-Nahyan, has served as the federation's president and worked to unite the emi-rates, which had previously been virtual protectorates of Britain (the so-called Trucial States) from the 1820s until the 1970s. Zayid has used his political skills and Abu Dhabi's oil wealth to keep the federation together through times of crisis which strained the sometimes tenuous ties of the 7 emirates. Zayid has been most successful in mediating Abu Dhabi's rivalry with Dubai and convincing Dubai's ruling family to take on key positions in the UAE federal government. In recent years, however, Zayid's advanced age and poor health have forced him to delegate greater responsibility to his eldest son, Shaykh Khalifa. While it is certain that Khalifa will succeed Zayid as UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi, it is not clear how strong of a ruler he will be because of his fierce rivalry with his half brother, Shaykh Muhammad, the chief of staff of the UAE army.

Though the UAE's permanent constitution stipulates that each emirate provide half of its revenues to the federal government, Abu Dhabi annually uses the proceeds from its oil sales to provide between 60 percent to 90 percent of the UAE's federal budget. Dubai and revenues from the UAE ministries generally have covered the remainder. These revenues come from the 20 percent surcharge foreign banks pay on their profits, taxes and royalties from the proceeds on foreign oil companies, and a 4 percent customs duty on all imported products except tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Another key problem is the fact that there is little transparency in UAE budgets, and it is estimated that as much as a third of UAE's oil revenues do not appear on national accounts. Over the last 4 years, the UAE budget has been US$7 to US$8 billion in deficit, but this is not considered a great problem because the income from Abu Dhabi's US$150 billion in overseas investments more than covers budget deficits of that size. In addition, the UAE government maintains an extensive cradle-to-grave social welfare system . There are no income or consumption taxes within the UAE.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

The UAE has a modern infrastructure that has made it a regional transportation center. According to government statistics, the UAE has 1,088 kilometers of roads (676 miles) as of 1998, all of which are paved. The Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway has been upgraded several times, and the links from Dubai to the northern emirates are in

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
United Arab Emirates 156 345 294 N/A 210 21.0 106.2 39.44 400
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Saudi Arabia 57 321 262 N/A 31 N/A 49.6 1.17 300
Iran 28 265 157 0.0 6 N/A 31.9 0.05 100
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

good repair as well. Rashid and Jebel Ali in Dubai are the largest of the UAE's 15 ports; together they handled 2.84 billion 20-foot container equivalent units of cargo in 1999, among the largest volumes in the world. Dubai has also won port and free zone management contracts in Djibouti, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Beirut since 1998. Dubai's airport is the largest of the UAE's 40 airports and, following the completion of the Shaykh Rashid terminal in March 2000, is now widely considered a first-class international airport. A significant expansion of the Abu Dhabi airport is expected to be completed in 2005. There are no railroads in the UAE, nor is there any domestic air transportation network.

Average annual rainfall in the UAE is very low (generally 42 millimeters) and there are few fertile areas except in the north (where annual rainfall is 150 mm per year) and among the oases. The U.S. State Department expects the UAE demand for water to increase by 50 percent by 2015 and warns that the demand will soon outstrip supply. The UAE has addressed this problem through the development of underground wellswhich have rapidly depleted the water tableand desalinization. Many underground wells have gone dry or were rendered unusable because of increased salinity from salt leaching into ground reservoirs. Today, 82 desalinization plants, many of which are also power plants, meet 75 percent of the UAE's total non-agricultural water needs. Due to the depletion of renewable resources through farming and excessive urbanization, there is no alternative to desalinization. Other options, such as importing water from Turkey via pipeline, are not considered viable because of security considerations.

The UAE's desalinization plants are key components of an electrical network that witnessed phenomenal growth in recent decades from 5.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 1980 to 19 billion kWh in 1998. Installed generating capability is 7,466 megawatts, with Abu Dhabi accounting for 45 percent of the total and Dubai 26 percent. Especially acute is the demand for gas; in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, demand doubled from 1996 to 2000. The UAE expects to spend $3.5 billion on new projects over the next 4 years to meet increased demand for electricity, which is expected to be 10 percent annually between 2000-2001. Among the most important of these projects is the $10 billion Dolphin Gas Project which aims to ship gas from Qatar's North Field to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, and Pakistan. A federation-wide electrical network is also being planned and will most likely be connected to the Omani electric grid. This would be the first step towards creating an electrical network throughout all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. In addition, the UAE federal government and the largest emirates have privatized most of the power system along with the water system.

Telecommunications services in the UAE are among the most advanced in the world. They are managed by Etisalat, which is 60 percent owned by the UAE government. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 915,223 main phone lines in use in the UAE and nearly 1 million mobile cellular phones. In 2000, the country had 1 Internet provider but there should be many more by 2005 as the UAE deregulates its telecommunications industry to comply with World Trade Organization guidelines. The management of Dubai Internet City has also confirmed that independent Internet service providers will be allowed to operate in Dubai.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

The UAE is a mixed free-market economy based on oil and natural gas production, and these industries combined take up more than a quarter of UAE gross domestic product (GDP). Over the past 2 decades, the UAE's economic diversification program has led to the rise of several non-oil sectors that now make up a significant percentage of the UAE's GDP: manufacturing (12.6 percent), commerce and hotels (11.4 percent), real estate (9.1 percent), construction (8.6 percent), transportation (7.3 percent), and finance and insurance (6.4 percent). The UAE also has a strong re-export sector. Government services account for nearly 11 percent of GDP. Industrial growth has been assisted by free trade zones, including Jebel Ali in Dubai, which have been magnets for international firms. In recent years Dubai has succeeded in attracting high-profile technology firms to the emirate's "Internet City," including Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, and Cisco Systems.

Nonetheless, the health of the UAE's economy as a whole continues to fluctuate with the world price of hydrocarbons and the economic vitality of its largest trading partners, particularly Japan, which accounts for close to a third of UAE petroleum exports. In part this is due to the large percentage of GDP taken up by petroleum and in part to the fact that government revenues70 to 80 percent of which come from oiland spending are closely linked to oil prices. These links have meant that different sectors of the economy have risen rapidly in recent years as oil prices increased sharply after oil prices hit historic lows in 1998. One exception to this trend is the demand for electricity and power: demand for power grew by nearly 400 percent between 1980 and 1998.

Among the most important corporations based in the UAE is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). It manages the petroleum and gas extraction operations in Abu Dhabi along with the 2 major petroleum refineries in the UAE. Other key corporations are: Dubai state-owned Dubai Aluminum, a leading supplier of aluminum to the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council; Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi state-owned telecommunications firm; and Emi-rates Airlines, Dubai's state-owned airline. The airline has won a plethora of international "Best Airline" awards and maintains one of the most modern airline fleets in the world. It has outclassed "Gulf Air" (a consortium owned by Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman), which remains one of the leading airlines in the Arabian/Persian Gulf region despite experiencing steep losses in the 1990s.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture accounts for only 3 percent of the UAE's GDP due to the federation's severe climatic conditions, although it accounts for 20 percent of all water consumed, much from rapidly-depleting natural water supplies or desalinization projects. The UAE's agricultural sector annually produces about 600,000 tons of produce. The federation's chief crops are cereals. The UAE produces enough poultry and salad to meet its needs for most of the year. Some crops, such as tomatoes, are grown in quantities greater than what the UAE consumes in a whole year. The agriculture sector also produces water-melons, eggs, cucumbers, gherkins, aubergines (egg-plants), green chilies, peppers, and dates.

For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, fishing and pearl diving were mainstays of UAE commerce. Today the government works to conserve fish stocks and protect the economic livelihood of the remaining fishing communities. The annual fish catch96,000 tons slightly exceeds domestic consumption.

Because a high proportion of UAE nationals are employed in fishing and agriculture, these 2 sectors receive a disproportionate amount of federal and local funding. For political reasons, the UAE government will continue to encourage agricultural self-sufficiency but it is aware that this goal is unattainable in either the short-or long-term.

INDUSTRY

MINING.

Oil is the foundation of the UAE's economy and will be so for many years to come. Current estimates suggest that the federation has more than a century of oil supplies. Oil production represented more than a third of GDP in 1999 and virtually all of the government's revenues. These revenues are also important to government spending, on which most non-oil UAE industries are dependent. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras al-Khaimah all have some level of oil production, but Abu Dhabi dominates both the UAE's production and reserves. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), Abu Dhabi has crude reserves of 92.2 billion barrels, or slightly less than 10 percent of the world's total, and 92 percent of UAE reserves. The EIA also reported that total UAE oil production for 2000 reached 2.29 million barrels of oil a day but that Abu Dhabi's recent investments could push production closer to 2.7 to 2.9 million barrels. Generally Abu Dhabi has reduced its production to ensure that the UAE stays within OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) production guidelines.

The UAE is also blessed with the fourth largest gas reserves in the world: 212 trillion cubic feet, which is about 4 percent of the world's total. These reserves are expected to last for about 150 to 170 years. Abu Dhabi controls 92 percent of the UAE total, while Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras al-Khaimah control the rest. The UAE has soaring domestic demands for gas production. Abu Dhabi has initiated a multi-billion-dollar program to address this need. The most ambitious part is the Dolphin gas project, which proposes to ship gas from Qatar's North Field to the UAE (principally Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Oman, and eventually to Pakistan. Significant funding is still needed for the project, but the Economist expected managers will be able to find the necessary funding because the project involves 4 national governments.

Finally, there is copper in Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah, talc in Fujairah, and manganese in all of the northern emirates. It not clear whether there is enough of any of these minerals to justify commercial mining.

MANUFACTURING.

The Economist estimated that the UAE has invested $6.8 billion in industrial development over the last 30 years, spurring the creation of 1,000 factories with more than US$20 billion in direct investment. The dominant industries have been chemicals and plastics (closely connected to UAE crude oil supplies) along with aluminum. Dubai Aluminum is a leading supplier of aluminum to the GCC states and accounts for 60 percent of Dubai's non-oil exports. The UAE government also has made significant investments in petrochemicals and other "downstream" hydrocarbon industries "downstream" meaning those that involve refining petroleum. In addition, the government is encouraging local-foreign ventures to invest in manufacturing and offering low-interest loans through the Emirates Industrial Bank to private financiers willing to invest in manufacturing in the UAE. Fifty percent of all manufacturing centers are in Abu Dhabi, while Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah collectively controlled 93 percent of the UAE's industrial production in 1998.

OFFSETS PROGRAM.

A key source of local-foreign investment in manufacturing is the "offsets" program, launched in 1991. It requires arms manufacturing and military aerospace firms to invest 60 percent of the value of their sales to the UAE in non-oil UAE industries. It is designed to take advantage of the current glut on the world arms market and to escape the traditional dilemma of choosing between spending on guns or food. By law, a UAE citizen must retain 51 percent of the capital in the partnership. Virtually all offset projects must be completed within 7 years. If the obligations are not met by the target dates, the company is penalized 8.5 percent of the unfulfilled portion of the obligation.

FREE TRADE ZONES.

Another key contributor to UAE industry has been free trade zones. The most important free trade zone is Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in Dubai. Jebel Ali in 1999 boasted 1,600 corporations and nearly $2.5 billion in investments. The zone's principal advantage was that it allowed companies investing more than Dh1 million (US$272,479) to be 100 percent foreign owned. It also boasts some of the best transportation facilities in the world and has become a regional transportation center, servicing the U.S. Navy, among others. Since the founding of Jebel Ali in 1985, the other UAE emirates established their own free trade zones, which have sought to replicate Jebel Ali's success.

SERVICES

BANKING. According to the CIA World Factbook, nearly 60 percent of the UAE workforce is involved in the service sector of the economy. The most important of these industries is banking, which has grown far too large. The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce estimated that there were 20 UAE-owned banks with more than 200 branches and 28 foreign banks with 119 branches in the UAE. Much of the industry is controlled by the "big five" commercial banksAbu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emi-rates Bank International, National Bank of Dubai, MashreqBank, and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The UAE Central Bank is responsible for regulating the UAE banking industry and preventing fraud, a continuing problem in the UAE banking system in the 1990s. The UAE was closely involved in the 1991 Bank of Commerce and Credit International scandal and eventually paid nearly US$2 billion in compensation. In 1998 it was revealed that the Dubai Islamic Bank lost US$200 million due to the actions of a corrupt employee. A year later, Madhav Bhagubhai Pater, an Indian businessman, fled from Sharjah, leaving behind debts of US$130.5 million to UAE and foreign creditors.

TOURISM AND RETAIL.

The UAE has a thriving tourist industry centered in Dubai, which has 70 percent of the country's hotels. Dubai features horse races, desert safaris, golf courses, and a number of five-and four-star hotels. The emirate also has shopping festivals, such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, where goods are heavily discounted. The purpose of these festivals is to attract visitors. According to the festivals' organizers, nearly 2.5 million people vacationed in the emirates in 2000: they came mostly from Britain, from surrounding states, and from the states of the former Soviet Union. Fujairah, which faces the Indian Ocean, has witnessed a considerable upsurge in vacationers in recent years. Retail has generally benefited from this upsurge except when a strong yen increases the price of imported Japanese consumer goods .

CONSTRUCTION AND REAL ESTATE.

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, the UAE underwent a building boom with new office buildings rising daily in the UAE's major cities, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In recent years, there have been reports that the boom is slowing, that UAE developers are taking a more reasoned/scientific approach to building, and that there is even a sign of a glut of office space in Dubai. Still, Dubai continues to build new hotels. The Saadiyat project in Abu Dhabi promises 28,000 new homes, a bridge valued at US$220 million, and a new trade center valued at US$95 million.

RE-EXPORT.

Finally, a rapidly emerging sector in the UAE economy is re-export, whose value, according to UAE government statistics, almost doubled between 1990 and 1998. At that time, foreign trade hit US$10.6 billion. The center of UAE re-export trade is Dubai, which accounted for 40 percent of the federation's re-export trade in the late 1990s. Among the most important markets for Dubai's re-export trade are Iran and the southern countries of the former Soviet Union. Reportedly Dubai also served as an entryway for smugglers attempting to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran imposed in the mid-1990s.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Since independence, the UAE has maintained an open, free market system with close links to the international economy. Historically the UAE's prime industries were pearling and fishing. Since the discovery of oil in the 1960s, the federation's closest trading partners have been industrialized nations in Europe and Asia, primarily France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, India, and South Korea. The UAE exchanged crude oil for machinery, cars, transportation equipment, and food. Japan is critical since it usually accounts for a third of UAE petroleum exports: the EIA estimated that 80 percent of the UAE's crude oil exports in 1999 went to Japan and other east Asian countries. The UAE's modern infrastructure and port facilities also have allowed it to serve as an important re-export and transportation hub, particularly for Iran through Dubai.

Generally the health of the UAE's economy has depended on the price of oil and the economic vitality of its leading trading partners. At the same time, the federation's economy also has been impacted adversely by the politics of the Arabian/Persian Gulf region. Because of the UAE's perceived support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran attacked UAE oil tankers in the Arabian/Persian Gulf

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): United Arab Emirates
Exports Imports
1975 7.262 2.685
1980 20.676 8.746
1985 14.043 6.549
1990 23.544 11.199
1995 N/A 20.984
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

and compelled the UAE government to seek the protection of the U.S. Navy through a reflagging operation (UAE ships hoisted the U.S. flag and carried U.S. servicemen). The UAE and Iran also continue to dispute ownership over 3 islands in the Arabian/Persian Gulf: Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. During the Gulf War, the UAE sought a close relationship with the United States as a way to protect the federation's economic assets from Iraqi threats. The UAE also benefited from the relocation of a number of businesses from Kuwait to the federation, especially to Dubai. Still, it is important to remember that the UAE's dependence on desalination plants for power and water ensures that the state's economy is especially vulnerable because economies of scale dictate that desalination plants should be large and located on the coast.

Since the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the UAE has faced new competitors and steadily increased its trade with China, the United States, and the former Soviet republics. Throughout the first two-thirds of the 1990s, large numbers of Russians traveled to the UAE and purchased products for sale at home, often using small transport planes or traveling through the emi-rate of Sharjah. U.S. firms also have made steady inroads into the UAE, helping the United States overtake Japan in 1996 as the leading exporter to the federation. U.S. exports to the UAE increased by 14.5 percent alone in 1999. Finally, erstwhile GCC-ally Saudi Arabia fought hard but ultimately failedto steal the UAE's share of the Japanese petroleum market throughout the late 1990s.

MONEY

Since 1981, the UAE's currency, the Emirian dirham, has been linked directly to the U.S. dollar at a rate of Dh3.67 to $1. The connection reflects the fact that crude oilthe UAE's chief export and the driving force in its economyis denominated and sold in U.S. dollars. It also reflects the desire of the UAE government to ensure that domestic interest rates will move in sequence with those prevailing in the United States.

Exchange rates: United Arab Emirates
Emirian dirhams (Dh) per US$1
2001 3.6725
2000 N/A
1999 N/A
1998 N/A
1997 3.6711
1996 3.6710
Note: Central bank mid-point rate of 3.6725 has been in effect since 1998.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

The UAE has achieved this stability through a tight monetary policy that regulates domestic liquidity under an open exchange and payments system: there are no prohibitions on the import or export of currencies into the UAE except for Israeli currency and countries subject to United Nations sanctions. The UAE Central Bank also adjusts the stock of domestic liquidity through the issuance of certificates of deposit (CDs) to the federation's commercial banks. The UAE is currently considering introducing an auction system for these CDs. The UAE government has no external debt , and its private debt-to-service ratio has been improving steadily since the 1980s.

Generally the dirham linkage has helped the UAE maintain macroeconomic stability and relatively low rates of inflation , generally between 4 percent and 5 percent annually. The principal problem for the system occurred in the late 1980s and again in the mid-1990s as the U.S. dollar dropped in value against the Japanese yen. This process created balance of payments concerns for the UAE since its principal trading partner at the time was Japan. There have been periodic discussions over the last decade of linking the dirham to a "basket" of currencies, including the U.S. dollar, the Japanese yen, and leading European currencies.

Dubai Financial Market (DFM), the UAE's first fully-regulated stock exchange, and its sister exchange, the Abu Dhabi Financial Market, both opened in 2000. Although initial interest in the stock exchanges was light, the UAE Central Bank expects that investors will flock to the 2 markets over the next decade. There have been discussions between representatives of DFM and the U.S. NASDAQ about a possible link up of the bourses (stock exchanges). The UAE Central Bank also has encouraged the development of a local bond market but has been hindered by several high-profile fraud cases involving large UAE investors.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

The United Arab Emirates is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and its citizens enjoy the highest

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
United Arab Emirates 37,520 37,841 24,971 20,989 16,666
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Saudi Arabia 9,658 11,553 7,437 7,100 6,516
Iran 1,611 1,129 1,208 1,056 1,275
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

standard of living in the Middle East: per capita income was estimated at US$17,700 in 1999. Although illiteracy was relatively high for wealthy nations at 25.4 percent in 1998, more than 90 percent of the UAE population has access to safe water, health services, and sanitation. In comparison, nearly 57 percent of the population was illiterate in 1975. The UAE government spends close to 16 percent of its annual budget on schools and has produced one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in the world, 12 pupils per teacher. Generous spending on health care has produced similar results in a number of key health indicators that are far better than the world average: life expectancy, infant mortality rates, births attended by trained physicians, and numbers of doctors per 100,000 people in the population. Overall, UAE citizens can depend on a cradle-to-grave welfare state that has few peers in the world.

There are enormous socio-economic cleavages in the UAE, however, as wealth is not distributed evenly. Collectively, Abu Dhabi and Dubai control 83.2 percent of the UAE's GDP in large part because of Abu Dhabi's large oil production and Dubai's oil supply and commercial base. Sharjah has built its economy on trade and oil but has also depended on manufacturing. It is held back by large loans taken out in the 1970s and 1980s, reportedly receiving annual subsidies from Saudi Arabia. All 3 emirates feature modern cities that are as advanced as any in the major industrialized nations.

The other 4 emirates have little oil. In 1999 together they accounted for only 6.9 percent of GDP. They depend heavily on subsidies from the UAE central government. The economic future of these poorer emirates may revolve mostly around who emerges as the dominant figure in UAE affairs after Zayid's death. The Economist reported that Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaykh Khalifa wants to limit Abu Dhabi's assistance to the poorer emirates and accelerate privatization programs of large state industries. Army Chief of Staff Shaykh Muhammad favors a more federal system in which Abu Dhabi would help develop the economy of the entire federation.

Within individual emirates, there are also clear economic distinctions based on nationality and gender. While many basic social services are provided to expatriates at reduced rates, UAE citizens command salaries roughly double those of expatriates in similar jobs and have access to numerous subsidies, grants, loans, free services, and pensions unavailable to expatriate workers. UAE citizens also receive preferential treatment for many government jobs. Women are routinely discriminated against in hiring decisions. Very infrequently, they are sent abroad for post-secondary education in the United States or Europe. Increasingly, members of the UAE elite are educated in foreign universities rather than in the UAE.

WORKING CONDITIONS

One of the most striking features of the UAE is the demographic composition of its workforce and the striking differences between the working conditions. Nearly 70 percent of the UAE government's workforce is comprised of Emirati nationals, while expatriates overwhelmingly dominate the private sector . There is no minimum wage. All workers are prohibited from organizing unions, bargaining collectively, and going on strike. In 1995 the United States suspended the UAE from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation Insurance Program because of the government's failure to comply with internationally recognized worker rights and standards.

The UAE, however, does regulate workplace health and safety standards rigorously, and injured workers are entitled to fair compensation by law. Forced and compulsory labor is illegal and rare. Children under the age of 15 are not permitted to work, and there are special regulations for workers between the ages of 15 and 18. Most UAE workers work 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and are not required to work outside when the temperature exceeds 44 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit)a key consideration in a climate as hot as that of the UAE. The UAE Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) generally rejects contracts that provide excessively low wages and attempts to investigate all complaints made by workers. Workers also may seek redress in courts, including special labor courts established by the MLSA. Unemployment rates are believed to be very low.

Still, these labor regulations do not cover government employees, domestic servants, agricultural workers, and women. Such groups are at times obliged to work longer than mandatory hours, and domestic servants are often victims of abuse or work conditions approaching indentured servitude. Even expatriate workers, who are covered by labor laws, frequently are not protected because the costs of seeking redress in the courts can be prohibitively high and because the MLSA is understaffed. Expatriate workers also face the threat of immediate deportation because many are in the UAE on temporary work visas. Though not officially sanctioned, discrimination is often practiced against women. As a result, unemployment for female university graduates is far higher than that of their male counterparts.

Child laborers perhaps are in the greatest danger. There have been consistent reports for at least a decade of underage boyssometimes as young as 5-or 8-years oldworking as camel jockeys. Although the government in 1993 prohibited children younger than 15 serving as camel jockeys, the State Department's 1999 Human Rights Report for the UAE speculated that the employers of underage camel jockeys are from powerful Emirati families considered to be above the law. Equally vulnerable are the large number of women from the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia who engage in prostitution and other acts associated with organized crime.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1820. Britain imposes a non-aggression pact on the rulers of the UAE for disrupting Indian-bound trade.

1892. Britain and the local rulers agree to transform the region into a British protectorate.

1958. Large quantities of oil are discovered in Abu Dhabi.

1971. Iran seizes 3 UAE administered islands: Abu Musa and the Tunb islands.

1971. Britain withdraws. The UAE is formed with all of the current emirates except Ras al-Khaimah.

1971. The UAE joins the United Nations and the Arab League.

1972. Ras al-Khaimah joins the UAE.

1973. OPEC raises the price, and cuts the supply, of oil. UAE GDP growth is 10 percent annually in the 1970s.

1981. Iran-Iraq war begins. The UAE financially supports Iraq. The UAE joins the Gulf Cooperation Council and pegs the dirham to the U.S. dollar.

1985. Dubai launches the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

1991. Gulf War begins. The UAE pays US$10 billion to support the anti-Iraq coalition.

1996. The UAE constitution becomes permanent. Abu Dhabi city is recognized as the UAE capital.

1996. The UAE agrees to a defense pact with the United States.

1999. Dubai Internet City and the Dolphin Gas Project are both unveiled.

2000. The first regulated UAE stock market, Dubai Financial Markets, opens for trading.

FUTURE TRENDS

There appears to be little doubt that the UAE has a bright economic future. The UAE controls nearly a century of oil reserves, maintains a modern infrastructure and a stable political system, lacks significant overseas debt, and has the financial resources necessary to address the economic, environmental, and social challenges of demographics, the dominance of oil in the state, and the paucity of water supplies before they become overwhelming. At the same time, the UAE's economic and social problems are very real and will intensify if they are not addressed.

Most of the UAE's proposed solutions to these problems have exacerbated certain aspects of them. The gap in wealth between the poorer and richer emirates could exacerbate tensions in the future. Abu Dhabi has combined its privatization programs with deep cuts in subsidies to the northern emirates, a move that has only enlarged this gap. This issue will be paramount if Shaykh Khalifa emerges as the dominant figure in the UAE government after the death of Shaykh Zayid. Privatization also favors the UAE's service sector, which is dominated by expatriates. This, too, could cause very serious social tensions. In addition, the offset program is contingent upon the UAE's spending billions on arms for decades, an expenditure that is likely to become a great burden. Thus, the UAE's principal challenge in the next century will be to build a viable society whose economic success does not undermine its economic and political stability.

DEPENDENCIES

United Arab Emirates has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cordesman, Anthony. Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE: Challenges of Security. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997.

El-Din, Amin Badr. "The UAE Offsets Program." Middle East Policy. Vol. 5, January 1997.

Economist Intelligence Unit. United Arab Emirates Country Profile. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1998.

Economist Intelligence Unit. United Arab Emirates Country Report. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1997.

Emirate of Dubai Official Trade Statistics and Commerce Statistics. 2000.

Energy Information Agency. Country Analysis Brief: UAE. <http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/uae.html>. Accessed January 30, 2001.

Foley, Sean. "The UAE: Political Issues and Security Dilemmas." Middle Eastern Review of International Affairs. Vol. 3, No. 1, March 1999.

Gause, F. Gregory. Oil Monarchies: Domestic Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994.

International Monetary Fund. Direction of Trade Statistics Yearbook. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund Press, 1999.

Kelly, J.B. Arabia: The Gulf and The West. New York: Basic Books, 1980.

Kemp, Geoffrey, and Robert E. Harkavy. Strategic Geography and the Changing Middle East. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Brookings Institution, 1997.

National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. 2000 Commercial and Economic Guide: UAE. <http://www.nusacc.org/entry/profiles/uae.asp>. Accessed January 14, 2001.

Rugh, William. "The Foreign Policy of the United Arab Emirates." Middle East Journal. Vol. 50, Winter 1996.

. "What Are the Sources of UAE Stability?" Middle East Policy. Vol. 5, September 1997.

Schofield, Richard. "Border Disputes in the Gulf: Past, Present and Future." The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays on Politics, Economics, Security, and Religion, edited by Gary G. Sick and Lawrence G. Potter. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Sick, Gary. "The Coming Crisis in the Persian Gulf." The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays on Politics, Economics, Security, and Religion, edited by Gary G. Sick and Lawrence G. Potter. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

al-Shayeji, Abdullah. "Gulf Views of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Region." Middle East Policy. Vol. 5, September 1997.

United Nations. Human Development Report. London: Oxford University Press, 2000.

. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Projections to 2150. New York: United Nations, 1998.

. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 1998 Revision. New York: United Nations, 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of Commerce. 1997 Country Commercial Guide: United Arab Emirates. Washington, DC: United States Printing Office, 1997.

U.S. Department of State. "1998 Report on Economic Policies and Trade Practices: United Arab Emirates." Tradeport. <http://www.tradeport.org/ts/countries/uae/ecopol.html>. Accessed January 30, 2001.

. "1999 Report on the United Arab Emirates Human Rights Practices." <http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1999_hrp_report/uae.html>. Accessed January 31, 2001.

. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: United Arab Emirates. Washington, DC: United States Printing Office, 2000.

U.S. Library of Congress. United Arab Emirates: A Country Study. <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/aetoc.html>. Accessed January 1, 2001.

World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

World Bank. World Population Projections 1994-1995. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

Sean Foley

CAPITAL:

Abu Dhabi.

MONETARY UNIT:

Emirian dirham (Dh). One Emirian dirham equals 100 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils and 1 and 5 dirhams. Paper notes include 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Crude oil, natural gas, re-exports, dried fish, and dates.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, and food.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$54 billion (2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$46 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$34 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Federation of seven shaykhdoms at the southern end of the Persian Gulf.

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is bounded on the north by a small portion of Qatar, the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, and a detached segment of Oman. The country shares a long, undefined border with Saudi Arabia (west and south) and Oman (east). It has an area of just over 32,000 square miles, about the size of the state of Maine. Abu Dhabi occupies nearly 87 percent of the total; Dubai, less than 5 percent; and Sharjah, just more than 3 percent. The emirates of Raʾs al-Khayma, Fujayra, Umm alQaywayn, and Ajman occupy the remainder. The country has a flat coastal plain; an interior desert, part of the Empty Quarter (Rub al-Khali); an elevated plateau; and the Hajar Mountains, shared with Oman. Principal oasis regions are Liwa and Buraymi. Rainfall is highly seasonal, localized, and scanty. Summer temperatures often reach 115°F on the humid coast, and higher in the dry interior. From October to March the weather is mild and pleasant.

The U.A.E.'s population has risen from about 180,000 in 1968 to approximately 3.1 million in 2000; the influx of expatriate workers and their dependents account for most of the growth and some 80 percent of the total population. The U.A.E. is overwhelmingly urban, and the largest cities are (in descending order) Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Raʾs al-Khaymah. Nearly all U.A.E. nationals and expatriates are Muslims; significant exceptions include some Indians, Filipinos, and Westerners. Sunnis account for about 85 percent of all Muslims. Tribal affiliation remains very important among Emiratis, whose rulers are drawn from the leading families of the dominant tribes.


History

Most of the current ruling families took power in the early part of the nineteenth century when Great Britain imposed a general truce after a series of violent clashes with the Qawasim seafaring forces who had opposed Britain's military and commercial ascendancy in the lower Persian Gulf. A series of treaties between these rulers and Britain codified Britain's predominant position and gave rise to the region being called the Trucial Coast or Trucial Oman. The area was known as Sahil Oman (Oman Coast) by Arabic-speakers. These treaties had a tendency to reinforce the leading role of the local rulers and create a powerful political status quo. However, local politics, mainly in the form of family disputes and alliances, have resulted in some changes. For example, Dubai became independent of Abu Dhabi in 1833, Raʾs al-Khayma seceded from Sharjah in 1869, and Fujayra gained independence from Sharjah in 1952. A treaty in 1892 further codified British power in the region, prohibiting rulers from engaging in diplomacy with non-British powers or ceding their territories to outsiders without British approval. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, fishing, pearling, trade, and agriculture were the main sources of income for the inhabitants of the emirates. However, the world depression of the 1930s and the collapse of the Persian Gulf pearl market plunged the region into great poverty, forcing many to migrate elsewhere.

Britain instigated the first efforts at federation when it established the Trucial Council in 1952, an administrative body made up of the seven rulers. However, rivalries and philosophical differences prevented the rulers from joining in federation until 1971, when all but Raʾs al-Khaymah formed the U.A.E. (Raʾs al-Khaymah joined the federation the following year.) The ruler of Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest emirate, Shaykh Zayid ibn Sultan alNahayyan, became president of the U.A.E., and Dubai's Shaykh Rashid ibn Saʿid al-Maktum became vice president. While much of the political history of the emirates has revolved around relations among the ruling families, it also has been affected by interactions with regional powers such as Oman, the rulers of Najd (later Saudi Arabia), Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran. At its inception Abu Dhabi's dispute with Saudi Arabia and Oman over the Buraymi (al-Ayn) Oasis remained unresolved; traditional rivalries among the seven amirs threatened the federation's viability; and Iran coerced Sharjah into a joint occupation of Abu Musa island (which contributed to a coup attempt that took the life of Sharjah's ruler, Shaykh Khalid ibn Muhammad), and forcibly seized the Tunb Islands from Raʾs al-Khayma.


Economy

Since the early 1960s, when Abu Dhabi began exporting oil, the U.A.E. economy has been dominated by this sector. The country's proven oil reserves, 94 percent of which were located in Abu
Dhabi emirate, amounted to some 98 billion barrels in 2001, more than 9 percent of the world's total. Dubai possesses 4 billion barrels; Sharjah, 1.5 billion; and Raʾs al-Khayma, 100 million. Abu Dhabi also has the bulk of the country's 212 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. The gap in economic development between Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, on the one hand, and the rest of the emirates is considerable, though it is moderated by federal government spending on infrastructure, with most of the funding from Abu Dhabi. Dubai, long the major trading center of the lower Gulf, is the region's leading entrepôt with the most extensive port facilities. Its Jabal Ali free zone has helped expand the U.A.E.'s nonoil sector to 60 percent of total GDP. Promotion of traditional economic activities, including agriculture and fishing, has created employment opportunities in the poorer emirates and achieved significant import substitution.

Government and Politics

The U.A.E.'s constitution provides for federal legislative, executive, and judicial institutions. The political system is a mix of presidential and parliamentary features, with the greatest power in the executive Federal Supreme Council, whose members are the rulers of the seven member states. Zayid has been president since independence, and Rashid served as both prime minister and vice president, posts assumed by his son Maktum in 1986, following Rashid's incapacitation. The legislature, called the Federal National Council, has only consultative powers, despite being given a somewhat greater role in the 1990s. Its forty members are appointed by the rulers: eight each from Abu Dhabi and Dubai,
six each from Sharjah and Raʾs al-Khayma, and four apiece from the remaining emirates. Real legislative authority resides in the Council of Ministers, which initiates most laws, oversees implementation of federal laws, and prepares the federal budget.


Considerable powers are left to the individual emirates, each governed in an essentially traditional manner by a hereditary ruler. Even in foreign affairs, defense, and finance, theoretically federal concerns under the constitution, the individual emirates act autonomously. Each emirate has pursued its own oil policy. Dubai and Sharjah maintained business as usual with Iran while the federal government tilted toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War (19801988). Zayid has championed a centralized U.A.E., whereas others, especially his former rival, Rashid, have favored the loose federal arrangement.


Foreign Relations

The U.A.E. maintains generally friendly relations with its neighbors, although these can be complicated by the independent actions of various emi-rates. It has played an active role in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which promotes economic and security ties to the other five conservative Gulf Arab states. Zayid has assumed a major role in the Arab world as a force for moderation, as in his efforts to promote Egypt's reintegration into the Arab League. Relations with the United States have been friendly, though sometimes strained because of what is seen as a one-sided American policy toward the Arab-Israel conflict. The United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom are the U.A.E.'s major trading partners. After the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, the U.A.E. cooperated closely with the United States and other members of the anti-Iraq coalition. However, during the late 1990s the country modified its stance, sending food and medicine to Iraq, and opposing a U.S. attack on the country. In a dramatic break from precedent among countries in the Arab League, the U.A.E. suggested in early 2003 that Saddam Hussein step down as leader of Iraq as a way to avoid imminent war with the United States.

see also abu dhabi; ajman; buraymi oasis dispute; dubai; fujayra; raʾs al-khayma; rub al-khali; sharjah; trucial coast; umm al-qaywayn.


Bibliography

Anthony, John Duke. Arab States of the Lower Gulf: People, Politics, Petroleum. Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, 1975.

Ghareeb, Edmund, and Abed, Ibrahim al-, eds. Perspectives on the United Arab Emirates. London: Trident Press, 1997.

Heard-Bey, Frauke. From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates: A Society in Transition. New York; London: Longman, 1982.

Lienhardt, Peter. Shaikhdoms of Eastern Arabia, edited by Ahmed Al-Shahi. New York; Houndmills, U.K.: Palgrave, 2001.

Metz, Helen Chapin, ed. Persian Gulf States: Country Studies, 3d edition. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1994.

Peck, Malcolm C. The United Arab Emirates: A Venture in Unity. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; London: Croom Helm, 1986.

Taryam, Abdullah Omran. The Establishment of the United Arab Emirates, 19501985. New York; London: Croom Helm, 1987.


malcolm c. peck
updated by anthony b. toth

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

B asic D ata
Official Country Name: United Arab Emirates
Region (Map name): Middle East
Population: 2,369,153
Language(s): Arabic, Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
Literacy rate: 79.2%

Previously known as the Trucial States, The United Arab Emirates (Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah or UAE) is located just north of Oman and is bordered on the east by the Arabian Sea and on the west by Saudi Arabia. The UAE was formed in 1971 upon gaining its independence from Great Britain; in 1972 the final emirate (imarah ) joined creating the current composition of the country. Composed of seven emiratesAbu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra's al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn each functioning with significant autonomy, the UAE is ruled by a Supreme Council of Rulers composed of one emir from each emirate. The council appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. The president and vice president are elected by the seven council members.

The UAE hosts the region's largest free trade zone in Dubai, seeks to attract tourists, actively tries to diversify its economy, and is considered one of the more liberal/ tolerant countries in the region. Yet there remains much of the rigidity typically found in the Gulf region. For instance, the constitution and a 1996 telecommunications law guarantees freedom of speech, but strong regulatory/ political media content control is practiced. Seeming to contradict the constitution, a 1988 law was implemented requiring the licensing by the Ministry of Education of all publications and also outlines topics of reporting that are allowable. While there are gray areas left open to conjecture, journalists practice self-censorship on subjects concerning members of ruling families, government policy, religion/morals, national security, and neighboring states in order to avoid sanctions.

The press is subsidized by government funding, but is essentially privately owned. Foreign press is censored at point of entryas is typical in the Gulf regionagain seeming contradictory to free speech laws. Notwithstanding, the press is burgeoning.

Newspaper dailies in the country include: Al Bayan (The Official Report, circulation of 68,845), Al Eqtisadiah (75,000), Al Fajr (The Dawn, 28,000), Emirates News (21,150), Gulf News (91,354), The Gulf Today (36,000), Al-Ittihad (Unity, 58,000), Al Khaleej (The Gulf, 114,800), Khaleej Times (66,204), UAE and Abu Dhabi Official Gazette, and Al Wadah (Unity, 20,000). Additionally, there are a plethora of other publications produced spanning the spectrum of commerce (business and consumer), political and religious concerns.

In February 2000 an electronic/broadcast free-zone was created and officially inaugurated in 2001 on the outskirts of Dubai. Within this zone are Dubai Media City (DMC) costing U.S. $817 million to build, and two other projects called Dubai Internet City (DIC) and the Dubai Idea Oasis (DIO). All organizations working from within this zone are not subject to the UAE's press/broadcast laws; they are completely free to practice their trade. This has prompted an enthusiastic response from media organizations. Many are locating an arm of their organization or completely relocating to the area. Included are: Reuters, Microsoft, MasterCard, Oracle, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC, a Saudi-owned organization that is the Arab world's largest satellite television station relocating from London), Sony, Zen TV, Middle East Business News, and the like. A good example of the new freedoms allowed includes Zen TV. Zen TV is being broadcast from the DMC and is one of the most open programs ever to be broadcast in the Arab region. It is aimed at 16-to 35-year-olds and covers topics normally taboo, such as sex, love and politics. The new policies of the DMC are bringing the UAE into competition with Egyptian and Lebanese programs that traditionally have dominated the market.

However, outside of the free-zone, all electronic media remain constrained and subject to the UAE's press laws. Yet, even in traditional UAE space Direct Satellite Broadcasting (DBS) has hampered the government's efforts to control content. Despite this, satellite dishes are legally allowed, with around 70 percent of the population owning one.

Most of the radio (13 AM, seven FM, and two short-wave) and television (15 total) stations available outside the free-zone are owned by the government with a few notable exceptions. These stations broadcast to around 820,000 radios and 310,000 televisions in the country.

Internet users in the UAEestimated at 400,000 or around 17 percent of the populationare the largest number of users by country in the Persian Gulf, but there is only one Internet service provider in the country, the government-operated Etisalat.

Bibliography

All the World's Newspapers. Available from www.webwombat.com.au/intercom/newsprs/index.htm.

BBC News Country Profiles. Available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/ .

Boyd, Douglas. Broadcasting in the Arab World: A Survey of the Electronic Media in the Middle East, 3. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1999.

"Country Index." Atlapedia Online. Available from http://www.atlapedia.com/online/country_index .

Country Studies. Library of Congress. Available from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ .

Kurian, George, ed. World Press Encyclopedia. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1982.

Maher, Joanne, ed. Regional Surveys of the World: The Middle East and North Africa 2002, 48. London: Europa Publications, 2001.

The Middle East, 9th ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2000.

Middle East Archives 2002. Reporters Sans Frontieres. Available from http://www.rsf.fr .

Redmon, Clare, ed. Willings Press Guide 2002, Vol. 2. Chesham Bucks, UK: Waymaker Ltd, 2002.

Russell, Malcom. The Middle East and South Asia 2001, 35th ed. Harpers Ferry, WV: United Book Press, Inc., 2001.

Stat-USA International Trade Library: Country Background Notes. Available from http://www.stat-usa.gov .

Sumner, Jeff, ed. Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, Vol. 5 136th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2002.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Available from http://www.uis.unesco.org.

"United Arab Emirates." Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In The World Factbook 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov/ .

"United Arab Emirates Annual Report 2002." Reporters Sans Frontieres. Available from http://www.rsf.fr .

World Bank. Data and Statistics. Available from http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html.

World Desk Reference. Available from http://www.travel.dk.com/wdr .

World Press Review. International Press Institute. Available from http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/world.html .

Clint B. Thomas Baldwin

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Official name: United Arab Emirates

Area: 82,880 square kilometers (32,000 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Yibir (1,527 meters/5,010 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 4 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 544 kilometers (338 miles) from northeast to southwest; 361 kilometers (224 miles) from southeast to northwest

Land boundaries: 867 kilometers (539 miles) total boundary length; Oman 410 kilometers (255 miles); Saudi Arabia 457 kilometers (284 miles)

Coastline: 1,318 kilometers (819 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The United Arab Emirates is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Persian Gulf. Seven emirates (states) make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE): Abu Dhabi, Dubayy, Ash Shāriqah, Ra's al Khaymah, Al Fujayrah, Umm al Qaywayn, and 'Ajmān. With an area of 82,880 square kilometers (32,000 square miles), the UAE is nearly as large as the state of Maine.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

The United Arab Emirates has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The climate is arid and subtropical. The months between May and October are extremely hot, with shade temperatures of between 39° and 49°C (100° and 120°F). Humidity on the coast can exceed 85 percent. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 2°C (36° F) but average between 17°C and 20°C (63°F and 68°F). It is cooler in the eastern mountains. Normal annual rainfall is from 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches), with considerably more in certain regions; the mountains receive an average of 14 to 20 centimeters (5 to 8 inches) and the eastern coast receives an average of 10 to 14 centimeters (4 to 5 inches). The wettest months are February and March. Prevailing winds, including the cool Shamal from the northeast and the Khamsin from the south, produce sandstorms. Influenced by monsoons, they vary by season and location.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Abu Dhabi, extending along the Persian Gulf coast and into the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, occupies about four-fifths of the UAE's territory. The remaining six emirates are clustered together on the Musandam Peninsula to the northeast. The UAE is mostly a flat, sandy desert except for the easternmost region, where the northern tip of the Al Hajar Mountains stretches into the country from Oman to the east.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

The northern, and longest, part of the UAE's coastline borders the Persian Gulf, with a short section to the east bordering the Gulf of Oman.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

There are coral reefs in the shallow waters off the UAE's eastern coast on the Gulf of Oman. Shoals lie off the UAE's Persian Gulf coast, which has no natural deepwater harbors, unlike the Gulf of Oman coast, which has several.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The UAE is situated at a strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is a vital transit point for global crude oil shipments.

Islands and Archipelagos

The UAE includes more than one hundred islands, most of them owned by Abu Dhabi. The country's capital, the city of Abu Dhabi, is located on an island of the same name. Other islands, including the island of Dās, are used for oil and gas operations related to offshore drilling.

Coastal Features

Six of the emirates have coasts on the Persian Gulf, while the seventh, Al Fujayrah, lies along the Gulf of Oman to the east. The Persian Gulf coast has numerous islands as well as lagoons and other indentations, and the shore is sandy with many salt flats (called sebkhas ). The alluvial flats bordering the Gulf of Oman on the eastern coast are an extension of the fertile coastal strip that runs between the mountains and the sea in Oman, known as the Al Batinah coast.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no lakes in the UAE.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

There are no perennial rivers in the UAE; however, there are small areas of wetlands.

8 DESERTS

More than two-thirds of the UAE's total area is a sandy and largely uninhabited desert, running from the westernmost tip of Abu Dhabi east to the land border with Oman and north to the Musandam Peninsula. Sand dunes in the southeast can reach heights of 100 meters (330 feet). The two major oases are the al-Liwa' Oasis in south-central Abu Dhabi and the Buraimi Oasis at Al 'Ayn, on the border with Oman.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Most of the UAE is very flat, including its coastal lowlands and desert interior.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The UAE's eastern region comprises barren, rugged mountains that are the northernmost extension of neighboring Oman's Al Hajar range. The highest peak in the country, Mount Yibir, which rises to 1,527 meters (5,010 feet), is located in this region.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are many caves in the Al Hajar Mountains in the eastern part of the UAE.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Except for the mountainous area in the east, the UAE is a low-lying country with no significant plateaus.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

All of the UAE's major ports are man-made, including Port Jabal 'Ali and Port Rashid, two of the largest artificial harbors in the Middle East. Irrigation canals support farming near the Buraimi Oasis at Al 'Ayn.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Crocetti, Gina L. Culture Shock! United Arab Emirates. Portland, OR.: Graphic Arts Center, 1996.

Johnson, Julia. United Arab Emirates. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

Kay, Shirley. Seafarers of the Gulf. Dubai: Motivate Pub., 1992.

Web Sites

Etisalat: UAE Pages. http://www.uae.org.ae/general/contents.htm (accessed April 18, 2003).

Ministry of Information and Culture: UAE Interact. http://www.uaeinteract.com/default.asp (accessed April 18, 2003).

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates, federation of sheikhdoms (2005 est. pop. 2,563,000), c.30,000 sq mi (77,700 sq km), SE Arabia, on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The federation, commonly known as the UAE, consists of seven sheikhdoms: Abu Dhabi (territorially the largest of the sheikhdoms), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. The city of Abu Dhabi (1991 est. pop. 798,000) in Abu Dhabi is the capital.

Land and People

The land is largely hot, dry desert. Located in the eastern portion of the federation is a portion of the Jabal al Akhdar Mts. Less than half of the inhabitants of the UAE are Arabs, while South Asians make up about 40%, and there are also Iranians, East Asians, and Westerners. Only about 20% of the UAE's population are native citizens. The nonindigenous population was first attracted by the employment provided by the UAE's petroleum boom. Muslims comprise 96% of the population (80% of these are Sunni, the balance Shiite) and the remaining 4% are largely Christian or Hindu. The official language is Arabic, but Farsi and English are widely used, and Hindi and Urdu are spoken by many of the South Asians.

Economy

Industries involving the area's oil and natural-gas deposits are still critical to the economy, and provide the bulk of export earnings. However, the country's increasingly diversified economy relies also on international banking, financial services, regional corporate headquarters, and tourism. The traditional occupations of fishing and pearling are still practiced, and there is some agriculture (dates, vegetables, watermelon, poultry). Aluminum, fertilizer, and textiles are manufactured, and there is commercial ship repair. Imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, and food; trading partners are Japan, India, Great Britain, South Korea, and China. The UAE has a large trade surplus.

Government

The UAE is governed under the constitution of 1971, which was made permanent in 1996. A Federal Supreme Council (FSC), composed of the seven emirate rulers, is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the FSC for a five-year term, with no term limits. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The highest legislative body is the unicameral Federal National Council, with 40 members. The members were previously all appointed by the rulers of the constituent states, but beginning in 2006 elections (initially participated in only by a select group of voters) were held for half the members; the rest are still appointed. Local matters are dealt with by the sheikhs. Administratively, the country is divided into the seven emirates.

History

The states that comprise the UAE were formerly known as the Trucial States, Trucial Coast, or Trucial Oman. The term trucial refers to the fact that the sheikhs ruling the seven constituent states were bound by truces concluded with Great Britain in 1820 and by an agreement made in 1892 accepting British protection. Before British intervention, the area was notorious for its pirates and was called the Pirate Coast. After World War II the British granted internal autonomy to the sheikhdoms. Discussion of federation began in 1968 when Britain announced its intended withdrawal from the Persian Gulf area by 1971.

Originally Bahrain and Qatar were to be part of the federation, but after three years of negotiations they chose to be independent. Ras al-Khaimah at first opted for independence but reversed its decision in 1972. After the 1973 rise in oil prices, the UAE was transformed from an impoverished region with many nomads to a sophisticated state with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and a broad social welfare system. In 1981 the UAE joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The fall of the shah of Iran in 1979, the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, and the Iran-Iraq War threatened the stability of the UAE in the 1980s. In 1990, Iraq accused the UAE and Kuwait of overproduction of oil. The UAE participated with international coalition forces against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War (1991). Since the Gulf War the UAE has expanded its international contacts and diplomatic relations. A dispute erupted with Saudi Arabia in 1999 over relations with Iran, a traditional enemy; while Saudi Arabia appeared willing to seek improved ties, the emirates still regarded Iran as a foe.

Sheikh Zaid ibn Sultan al-Nahayan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, was president of the UAE from the founding of the federation until his death in 2004, when his son and heir, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zaid Al Nahayan, was elected to succeeded him. The financial crisis that resulted in Dubai in 2009, as the speculative bubble there collapsed and the government-owned Dubai World conglomerate struggled with huge debts, affected all the sheikhdoms to some degree and shook the banking system, and Dubai was forced to seek significant financial aid from Abu Dhabi.

In 2011 Emirati forces aided Bahrain in suppressing prodemocracy demonstrations. The UAE itself did not experience Arab Spring protests, but in 2013 more that 60 people were convicted of plotting the government's overthrow. An Islamist group that has called for political reforms and engaged in social service work was said to be behind the plot.

Bibliography

See D. Hawley, The Trucial States (1971); E. Mallakh, The Economic Development of the United Arab Emirates (1981); M. Peck, The United Arab Emirates (1986); A. O. Taryam, The Establishment of the United Arab Emirates (1987).

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

area:

83,600sq km (32,278 sq mi)

population:

2,411,041

capital (population):

Abu Dhabi (942,463)

Federation of the seven independent sheikhdoms of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. It is bordered by the Persian Gulf (n), Oman (e), Saudi Arabia (w and s), and Qatar (nw). The terrain is flat, consisting mainly of desert. Abu Dhabi is more than six times the size of the other states put together, has the largest population, is the biggest oil producer, and provides the federal capital, the city of Abu Dhabi. The other significant populations are Dubai and Sharjah. The population is almost exclusively Muslim (mostly Sunni), although the great majority of inhabitants are expatriate workers. Formerly known as the Trucial States, the area was a British Protectorate from 1892. After World War 2, the Sheikhdoms gained autonomy. In 1971, British troops withdrew from the Arabian Gulf and the United Arab Emirates was formed. Crude oil and natural-gas production dominate the economy, accounting for about 50% of its GDP. Oil was first discovered in Abu Dhabi in the early 1960s, and the 1973 rise in oil prices transformed a relatively impoverished region into one of the world's wealthiest (2000 GDP per capita, US$22,800). Sheikh Zahid succeeded his brother as ruler in 1966. The UAE was part of the coalition against Iraq in the Gulf War (1991).

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.uae.gov.ae

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Culture Name

Emirati (in Arabic, Al-Thaqafa Al-Emaratiya )

Orientation

Identification. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of the seven small emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, and Fujairah, which were united as a federal state on 2 December 1971. Before the establishment of the oil economy in the early 1960s, two main orientations shaped traditional Emeriati culture: the nomadic desert-oriented Bedouins with small oasis farming within the broader context of the desert economy and culture, and the sea-oriented culture that revolved around pearling and sea trading. These subcultures were economically, politically, and socially interdependent, creating a common culture and social identity. The UAE shares significant aspects of its culture with neighboring Arab countries and the larger Arab culture.

Location and Geography. The UAE covers 32,278 square miles (83,600 square kilometers) and is located on the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. It shares land borders with Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The seven emirates vary greatly in size. Abu Dhabi represents 85 percent of the land, and the smallest emirate is Ajman. Each emirate is named after its capital city, and Abu Dhabi City is the permanent capital of the nation. The inland area is mostly desert with a few oases, and the barren Hajar Mountains run through the country. The UAE has a dry climate with very high temperatures and humidity in the summer.

Demography. Relative to its size and oil wealth, the UAE has a small population, estimated at 2,624,000 in 1997. Before 1970, the local population was tiny (estimated at eighty-six thousand in 1961) and lacked most of the technical skills needed for a modern society. The commercial production of oil triggered rapid population growth as a result of an increase in the national population from improvements in diet, health care, and living standards and the importation on a large scale of mostly male foreign laborers. The latter factor has generated a dependence on expatriate labor; the UAE has become a multiethnic society, and Emirati nationals account for only about 20 percent of the population. This has created an imbalanced population composition in favor of males; in 1997, there were 1,755,000 males and 869,000 females.

About two-thirds of the immigrants are Asians, mainly from India, Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. The remainder are Arabs, Europeans, and Americans.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Arabic. Among the immigrant population, English, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and Filipino are spoken. English is the language of commerce.

Symbolism. National Day symbolizes one of the most successful experiments in unity in the modern Arab world. The main metaphor is that of the family, with the president referred to as a father. The colors of the national flaggreen, red, white, and blackare shared with other Arab countries. Other cultural symbols are the falcon, camel, Arabian horse, pearling boat, coffeepot, and date palm. They are used to invoke a historical community that survived harsh conditions and now enjoys the benefits of unity and prosperity. These emblems appear on banknotes, coins, and stamps.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Before 1971 the seven emirates were collectively known as the Trucial States, a name that originated from maritime agreements between the British and the leading sheikhs of the tribes inhabiting the southern coast between Qatar and Oman in the first half of the nineteenth century. The economic life of the UAE depended heavily on pearl diving and sea trade in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. This led to the settlement of different ethnic groups from countries along the trade routes, such as Iran and India. Trade activities with east Africa led to the importation of Africans as laborers in the pearling industry in the late nineteenth century. The African and Iranian ethnic populations have been fully integrated as citizens.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Before 1960, the only settlements were small towns and villages. Oil resources have enabled massive modernization. Towns have been transformed from mud-walled communities into commercial capitals integrated in the global economy. Because of the small population and harsh desert interior, 80 percent of the population lives in the coastal capital cities, leading social scientists to describe them as city-states.

Urbanization has been characterized by unparalleled growth. Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern cities in the world. UAE cities have been heavily influenced by the global city type. Dominant urban features include skyscrapers in the commercial city centers, multistory residential buildings, large shopping malls, wide boulevards, an extensive network of highways, and sprawling new suburbs.

The cities have a multiethnic composition, with segregated housing areas for nationals and the immigrants. Housing is subdivided further according to class, social power, ethnicity, and nationality.

To create a balance between their global and local aspects, in municipalities have adopted policies projecting Arab-Islamic architectural design, particularly arched windows, gates, and decorative stucco. Recently, more urban settings have exhibited decorative designs with local themes related to the national heritage. Preservation of the urban heritage also is seen in the renovation of old forts, palaces, souks (marketplaces), and mosques. Date palm trees, symbols of the local culture, have been planted extensively along city roadsides.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Before the 1960s, food consisted mainly of fish, rice, bread, dates, yogurt, homegrown vegetables, and meat from sheep, goats, and camels. The diet has improved in quality and variety, with modern supermarkets offering imported foods.

Lunch is the main family meal and is eaten at home at around two o'clock. It usually consists of fish, rice, meat, and a vegetable dish. Many Emiratis prefer the traditional style of eating with the right hand. There are strict Muslim taboos against pork and alcohol, and meat must be slaughtered according to the Islamic halal method.

Emiratis are known for their hospitality; they feel honored when receiving guests and socializing with friends and relatives. Guests are welcomed with coffee and fresh dates. Incense is passed around so that guests can catch the fragrance in their headwear. With the immigrant population have come restaurants offering a wide variety of ethnic foods, and fast-food restaurants have also become popular.

Basic Economy. Income is among the highest in the world, but there are large differences between the emirates, with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah producing the most oil. The other emirates have benefitted from oil wealth through the federal welfare system and employment in state institutions.

With declining oil prices, the government has attempted to diversify the national economy. This has led to the growth of industry, construction, commerce, free trade zones, transportation, tourism, farming, fisheries, and communications. The rapid development of these sectors has reduced the nation's dependence on oil. In 1998, the gross domestic product was estimated at $45,590 million, 70 percent from the nonoil sector.

The national currency name is called the Emirian Dirham.

Major Industries and Trade. The UAE is the third largest exporter of crude oil and gas in the Gulf. It is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Division of Labor. Citizens account for 10 percent of the total labor force. Almost all nationals (99 percent) work in the state sector because of the attractive benefits and are employed mainly in nontechnical jobs in education, the army, the police, and the civil service. They also own all Emirati businesses. Immigrants are employed in both the public and private sectors in manual, technical, and professional occupations.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Emirati society is divided into two social categories: the nationals (Al-Muwateneen ) and the foreign immigrants, referred to as the incomers (Al-Wafedeen ). Citizens are subdivided into four main social classes: (1) the ruling sheikhly families, whose members hold the highest political positions and power and have immense wealth and prestige, (2) the merchant class, known as al-tujjar, traditionally pearling merchants who now sell international consumer goods, (3) the new middle class, represented by increasing numbers of professionals who have benefitted from free state education, and (4) the low-income groups, represented by newly settled Bedouin nomads and former pearl divers and oasis farmers.

Among the immigrants there are hierarchical groups that receive different economic and social rewards: (1) top professionals and technocrats with international contracts, who earn high salaries and other benefits, (2) middle-range professionals such as school teachers, skilled technicians, and company salesmen, and (3) low-paid semi-skilled and unskilled workers, primarily Asian. In general, nationals are a privileged minority, and benefit from state laws and business regulations.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The symbol of a male national as a distinct social category is seen most visibly in the traditional dress of a white robe (kandoura ) and white head cloth (ghutrah ) with a black rope (aqal ). Men grow short beards and mustaches. Women wear long dresses with a head cover (hijab ) and black cloak (abayah ).

Political Life

Government. The UAE has a federal government that is made up of several organs: the president and his deputy, the Supreme Council, the cabinet, the Federal National Council, and an independent judiciary with a federal supreme court. The Supreme Council has both legislative and executive powers and includes the rulers of the seven emirates. The cabinet consists of ministers drawn mainly from the ruling families of the emirates.

Leadership and Political Officials. The fact that the traditional tribal system of government each emirate was based on similar political principles facilitated the establishment of the UAE. Hereditary dynastic family rule still operates in each emirate as a local government system under the umbrella of the federal system. Members of the ruling families occupy the most important positions in their political administrations. While the political system continues to retain some of its traditional values at formal and informal levels, it has been able to keep pace with economic and social change. The sheikhs are highly regarded for performing the dual roles of modernizers and guardians of the cultural heritage. They still have traditional majlis where citizens have access to their leaders.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The development of the infrastructure has been impressive. The welfare system offers womb-to-tomb free state services for all nationals, including high-quality health care, education up to the tertiary level, social security, family allowances, subsided electricity and water, and housing for low-income groups. This is a major way of distributing oil wealth among the national population. The immigrant population also benefits to some extent, particularly in regard to medical care.

NonGovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There were 103 Associations of Public Benefit in 1999, serving interests of many groups and identified with heritage preservation, immigrant communities, professional groups, culture, women, religion, sports, and general humanitarian services. Their role is seen as complementary to that of governmental institutions.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Modern economic roles and social status reflect both change and continuity for women. Schools and universities are segregated, and levels of enrollment of girls and their performance are impressive. In higher education, female students outnumber males two to one. However, women's participation in the labor force remains one of the lowest in the world at 6 percent in 1990. In spite of new employment opportunities, most women opt for marriage and raising children. UAE society places a high value on those roles. Conservative cultural attitudes lead women to seek jobs that do not involve mixing with men or commuting far from home. Subsequently, most women are employed in education, health, and civil service.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Official statements affirm that men and women have equal rights and opportunities to advance themselves and the nation, yet patriarchy as a generalized ideology is still visible in social life. Men continue to receive employment preferences in high state administration and private businesses. Women do not play a significant role in politics and religious life, as these areas are considered male domains.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Arranged endogamous marriage within the kinship (tribal) units was the preferred pattern in the preoil period, but this pattern has changed somewhat. Individuals now have greater choice, yet many nationals still prefer arranged marriages. Emiratis are strongly discouraged from marrying nonnationals, and a young man receives $19,000 from the Marriage Fund if he marries a national. As prescribed by Islam, a man is allowed up to four wives, but most men have only one wife.

Domestic Unit. The traditional household unit of the extended family has been undermined, as over 80 percent of national households live as nuclear families in their own houses. Large families are encouraged by the state as a national policy, and family size is six to eight children. The husband's authority is declining, while the wife is gaining importance as a mother and the manager of the domestic unit. On average, each household employs two live-in domestic servants, usually Asian.

Kin Groups. UAE society is family- and kin-oriented. Tribal kinship units play a significant role in social identification and one's standing in the community. Most families prefer to live in the same neighborhood as their kin.

Socialization

Child Rearing and Education. Children are showered with care, affection, and physical contact. They are raised to be respectful toward their parents and elders and grow up to be skilled in interaction with a large number of relatives. Up to age 5, a child is referred to as jahel ("the one who does not know"), and there is a tolerant attitude toward children's behavior. Most families employ maids to share child caretaking, and this has introduced a foreign cultural element to child socialization, although a maid's influence is viewed as negative. The school system has undertaken a greater role in children's socialization, significantly reducing the family's role in this process.

Higher Education. The government views higher education as a major instrument for development. The UAE has one of the highest ratios of students entering higher education in the world. There are seven universities and eleven higher colleges of technology.

Etiquette

Social customs are shared throughout the Gulf Arab countries. An Islamic greeting (al-salam alaykom )is the most appropriate, and men follow this with a quick nose-to-nose touch while shaking hands. Women greet each other by kissing several times on both cheeks. Men normally do not shake hands with women in public. It is customary to ask about the health of a person and his or her family several times before beginning light conversation. Refreshments usually are served before serious matters are discussed.

It is customary not to use first names but to say "father or mother of (oldest son)." Respect and courtesy are shown to elders, and in their presence young men are expected to listen more and speak less. Sex segregation is still evident in social life. Men are entertained in majlis (large living rooms, often with a separate entrance), while women entertain friends in the home. It is customary to take off one's shoes before entering a private house.

Emiratis stand close to each other when interacting. It is acceptable for men or women to hold hands. The presence of many ethnic groups has led Emiratis to be tolerant of other social customs, yet they remain conscious of their own customs as markers of cultural identity.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Islam dominates all aspects of life. Most Emiratis are members of the Sunni sect. Matters relating to marriage, divorce, inheritance, economics, politics, and personal conduct are affected by Sharia (Islamic) law.

Emaritis are tolerant toward other religions, and immigrants of other faiths are allowed to have their own places of worship. Large numbers of Asian and Arab immigrants also follow Islam.

Rituals and Holy Places. The main Muslim religious ritual is prayer five times a day. This requires wodou (ablution) for purification. Usually people go to the nearest mosque or pray at home. The rituals involved in the pilgrimage (Haj ) to Mecca are the most elaborate. One must remove the shoes before entering a mosque. In large mosques, there are separate areas for women.

Medicine and Health Care

Before 1960, there were few hospitals, and the population relied on traditional folk medicine. Cautery, bloodletting, and the use of herbs were common, and a religious teacher (muttawe ) dealt with cases of mental illness. Life expectancy was around forty-five years. Today Emiratis have a free modern health care system with numerous hospitals, primary health care centers, and private clinics staffed primarily by immigrants. With improved diet and health care, life expectancy is now seventy-two years, and there has been a reduction in infant mortality. The extended family provides its sick members with support in the form of frequent hospital visits, and traditional medical practices are still used to deal with mental illnesses.

Secular Celebrations

The UAE national day, 2 December, is the most important secular celebration. Cities are decorated with colored lights, and folklore troops perform in heritage villages. 1 January is a holiday but is not celebrated by nationals. Expatriate communities celebrate their own religious and secular holidays.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The state generously supports writers, painters, actors, and folk dancers. Sharjah is particularly active in promoting culture and was chosen by UNESCO as the Arab Cultural Capital in 1998.

Literature. The oral tradition remains strong, particularly storytelling and poetry, and most state events are accompanied by poetry readings. Written literature is increasing in popularity.

Performance Arts. Conservative elements of the society still impede women's participation in performance arts. In 1999, the first college for theater arts opened in Sharjah. Emiratis rely on theater and television programs produced in other Arab countries.

Bibliography

Abdul Rahman, Abdullah. The Emirates in the Memory of Her Sons (in Arabic), 1990.

Abdulla, Abdul Khaliq, et al. Civil Society in the United Arab Emirates (in Arabic), 1995.

Al-Alkim, Hassan. The Foreign Policy of the United Arab Emirates, 1989.

Al-Faris, Abdul Razzaq. Higher Education and the Labor Market in the UAE (in Arabic), 1996.

Al-Gurg, Easa. The Wells of Memory, 1998.

Al-Hassan, Yusuf. The Welfare State in the United Arab Emirates (in Arabic), 1997.

Al-Mur, Mohammad. National Aspirations: Essays about the Emirates (in Arabic), 1997.

Al-Otaiba, Mana. Petroleum and the Economy of the United Arab Emirates, 1977.

Codrai, Ronald. The Seven Sheikhdoms: Life in the Trucial States before the Federation of the United Arab Emirates,1999.

Corderman, Anthony. Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, 1997.

Crystal, Jill. Oil and Politics in the Gulf: Rulers and Merchants in Kuwait and Qatar, 1990.

Drake, Diana. Discovery Guide to the United Arab Emirates, 1998.

Dubai: A Pictorial Tour, 1999.

Dyck, Gertrude. The Oasis: Al-Ain, Memoirs of Doctora Khalifa, 1995.

Encyclopedia of the Emirates, vol. 1: Dubai, 19931994.

Facey, William, and Gillian Grant. The Emirates by the First Photographers, 1996.

Ghobash, Moaza. Immigration and Development in the United Arab Emirates: A Sociological View (in Arabic), 1986.

Heard-Bey, Frauke. From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates, 1996.

Kay, Shirley. Emirates Archaeological Heritage, 1986.

. Land of the Emirates, 6th ed., 1992.

Khalaf, Sulayman. "Gulf Societies and the Image of Unlimited Good." Dialectical Anthropology 17: 5384, 1992.

Matthew, Jane. UAE: A MEED Practical and Business Guide, 5th ed., 1999.

Mohammed Al-Fahim. From Rags to Riches, 1995.

National Atlas of the United Arab Emirates, 1993.

Nowell, John. Now and Then: The Emirates, 1998.

Owen, Roger. "Migrant Workers in the Gulf." Minority Rights Report 68: 1985.

Progress of UAE Women. Association of Popular Heritage Revival.

Robinson, Gordon. Arab Gulf States, 1996.

Spectrum Guide to the United Arab Emirates, 1998.

Studies in Emirates Society (in Arabic), 1997.

Thesiger, Wilfred. Arabian Sands, 1959.

UAE in Focus: A Photographic History of the United Arab Emirates, 1998.

Zahlan, Rosemarie. The Making of Modern Gulf States, 1989.

Sulayman Najm Khalaf

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

EMIRIANS 117

South Asians (Asian Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans) account for about 45 percent of the population of the UAE, followed by Arabs (about 33 percent), and Iranians (17 percent). Westerners (Americans and Western Europeans) account for about 5 percent. Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis, and Bahrainis are employed throughout the government bureaucracy.

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emirate

e·mir·ate / əˈmi(ə)rˌāt; əˈmi(ə)rit; ˈemərit/ • n. the rank, lands, or reign of an emir.

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emirate

emirate •gamut •imamate, marmot •animate •approximate, proximate •estimate, guesstimate, underestimate •illegitimate, legitimate •intimate •penultimate, ultimate •primate • foumart • consummate •Dermot •discarnate, incarnate •impregnate • rabbinate •coordinate, inordinate, subordinate, superordinate •infinite • laminate • effeminate •discriminate • innominate •determinate • Palatinate • pectinate •obstinate • agglutinate • designate •tribunate • importunate • Arbuthnot •bicarbonate • umbonate • fortunate •pulmonate •compassionate, passionate •affectionate •extortionate, proportionate •sultanate • companionate •principate • Rupert • episcopate •carat, carrot, claret, garret, karat, parrot •emirate • aspirate • vertebrate •levirate •duumvirate, triumvirate •pirate • quadrat • accurate • indurate •obdurate •Meerut, vizierate •priorate • curate • elaborate •deliberate • confederate •considerate, desiderate •immoderate, moderate •ephorate •imperforate, perforate •agglomerate, conglomerate •numerate •degenerate, regenerate •separate • temperate • desperate •disparate • corporate • professorate •commensurate • pastorate •inveterate •directorate, electorate, inspectorate, protectorate, rectorate •illiterate, literate, presbyterate •doctorate • Don Quixote • marquisate •concert • cushat • precipitate

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
DEFENSE
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-U.A.E. RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the June 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

United Arab Emirates

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.

Cities: (2002 est.) Capital—Abu Dhabi (pop. 1,000,000); Dubai (pop. 860,000).

Terrain: Largely desert with some agricultural areas.

Climate: Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—U.A.E., Emirati.

Population: (2007 est.) 4.4 million.

Population growth rate: (2007 est.) 4.0%.

Ethnic groups: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Filipino, other Arab; (15-20% of residents are U.A.E. citizens).

Religions: Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.

Languages: Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy (U.A.E. citizens)—about 80%.

Health: Life expectancy—about 76 yrs.

Work force: (2006) 2.968 million (93% foreign in 15-64 age group) Agriculture—2.3%; industry—61.9%; services—35.8%.

Government

Type: Federation of emirates.

Independence: December 2, 1971.

Constitution: December 2, 1971.

Government branches: Executive—7-member Supreme Council of Rulers, which elects president and vice president. Legislative—40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial—Islamic and secular courts.

Political subdivisions: Seven largely self-governing city-states.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: State-nominated electors chose half of the Federal National Council seats in 2006.

Budget: (2006) $7 billion.

Economy

GDP: (2006 est.) $163 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2006 est.) 9.7%.

Per capita GDP: (2006 est.) $37,000.

Inflation rate: (2006 est.) 10-13%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Agriculture: (2005 est., 2.0% of GDP) Products—vegetables, dates, dairy products, poultry, fish. Petroleum (2005 est.) 36%.

Manufacturing: (2005 est.) 13%.

Services: (44% of 2003 GDP) Trade, government, real estate.

Trade: (2006 est.) Exports—$157 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets—Japan, South Korea, Thailand, India. Imports—$126.6 billion: machinery, chemicals, food. Major suppliers—Western Europe, Japan, U.S., China, India.

Foreign economic aid: (2004) In excess of $5.25 billion.

PEOPLE

Only 15-20% of the total population of 4.4 million is U.A.E. citizens. The rest include significant numbers of other Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians, Afghans, Filipinos, and west Europeans.

The majority of U.A.E. citizens are Sunni Muslims with a very small Shia minority. Many foreigners also are Muslim, although Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the U.A.E.'s foreign population.

Educational standards among U.A.E. citizens population are rising rapidly. Citizens and temporary residents have taken advantage of facilities throughout the country. The UAE University in Al Ain had roughly 17,000 students in 2004. The Higher Colleges of Technology, a network of technical-vocational colleges, opened in 1989 with men's and women's campuses in each emirate. Zayed Univer-

sity for women opened in 1998 with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Zayed University will establish separate male campuses for the 2007-2008 academic year. American University Sharjah had over 4,500 students enrolled in 2007. Many foreign universities, including ones from the U.S., U.K., and Australia, also have campuses in the U.A.E.

HISTORY

The U.A.E. was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula Sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the Seventh century; for centuries it was embroiled in dynastic disputes. It became known as the Pirate Coast as raiders based there harassed foreign shipping, although both European and Arab navies patrolled the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. Early British expeditions to protect the India trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast in 1819. The next year, a general peace treaty was signed to which all the principal sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the “Trucial Sheikhdoms”) agreed to a “perpetual maritime truce.” It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement. Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the U.K. with other Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help out in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the U.A.E. Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999. Since that time, the U.A.E. has constructed a border fence along the entire length with both Oman and Saudi Arabia. The new fence and checkpoints will likely be finished by 2008-2009.

In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were unable to agree on terms of union, even though the termination date of the British treaty relationship was the end of 1971. Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of them entered into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The seventh, Ras al-Khaimah, joined in early 1972.

The U.A.E. sent forces to help liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf War. U.A.E. troops have also participated in peacekeeping missions to Somalia, Lebanon, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, and Kuwait.

In 2004, the U.A.E.'s first and only president until that time, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded him as Ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the Constitution, the U.A.E.'s Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as U.A.E. Federal President. Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In January 2006, Sheikh Makotum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, U.A.E. Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, passed away and was replaced by his brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MbR), Ruler of Dubai and U.A.E. Minister of Defense. On February 9, 2006, the U.A.E. announced a cabinet reshuffle. Several ministries were eliminated or renamed, while others were created.

GOVERNMENT

Administratively, the U.A.E. is a loose federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. The pace at which local government in each emirate evolves from traditional to modern is set primarily by the ruler. Under the provisional constitution of 1971, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (notably oil and gas) and revenues. In this milieu, federal powers have developed slowly. The constitution established the positions of President (Chief of State) and Vice President, each serving 5-year terms; a Council of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister (head of government); a supreme council of rulers; and a 40-member Federal National Council (FNC). The FNC is a consultative body with half its members appointed by the emirate rulers and half elected.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: KHALIFA bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Vice Pres.: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Prime Min.: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Dep. Prime Min.: SULTAN bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Dep. Prime Min.: HAMDAN bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Culture, Youth, & Community Development: Abd al-Rahman Muhammad al-UWAIS

Min. of Defense: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Min. of Economy: LUBNA al-Qasimi

Min. of Education: Hanif Hassan ALI

Min. of Energy: Muhammad bin Dhain al-HAMILI

Min. of Environment & Water: Muhammad Said al-KINDI

Min. of Finance & Industry: HAMDAN bin Rashid al-Maktum

Min. of Foreign Affairs: ABDALLAH bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Governmental Sector Development: Sultan bin Said al-MANSURI

Min. of Health: Humaid Muhammad Ubayd al-QATAMI

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: NUHAYYAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Interior: SAIF bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Justice: Muhammad Nakhira al-DHAHIRI

Min. of Labor: Ali bin Abdallah al-KABI

Min. of Presidential Affairs: MANSUR bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Public Works: HAMDAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Social Affairs: Mariam Muhammad Khalfan al-RUMI

Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs: Muhammad Abdallah al-GARGAWI

Min. of State for Federal National Council Affairs: Anwar Muhammad al-GARGASH

Min. of State for Finance & Industry: Muhammad bin Khalfan al-KHARBASH

Min. of State for Foreign Affairs: Muhammad Husayn al-SHALI

Governor, Central Bank: Sultan bin Nasir al-SUWAYDI

Ambassador to the US: Saqr Ghobash Said GHOBASH

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Ahmad Abd al-Rahman al-JARMAN

The U.A.E. maintains an embassy in the United States at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC, 20008 (tel. 202-243-2400). The U.A.E. Mission to the UN is located at 747 3rd Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-371-0480).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The relative political and financial influence of each emirate is reflected in the allocation of positions in the federal government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose emirate is the U.A.E.'s major oil producer, is president of the U.A.E. The ruler of Dubai, which is the U.A.E.'s commercial center, is vice president and prime minister.

Since achieving independence in 1971, the U.A.E. has worked to strengthen its federal institutions. Nonetheless, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy, and progress toward greater federal integration has slowed in recent years. A basic concept in the U.A.E. Government's development as a federal system is that a significant percentage of each emirate's revenues should be devoted to the U.A.E. central budget.

The U.A.E. has no political parties. The rulers hold power on the basis of their dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus. Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society. In December 2006, the U.A.E. held its first-ever limited elections to select half the members of the FNC. Ballots were cast by electors selected by the emir of each emirate. One woman was elected to the FNC and seven additional women were appointed to be council members.

DEFENSE

The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast and commanded by British officers, were turned over to the U.A.E. as its defense forces in 1971. The U.A.E. armed forces, consisting of 48,800 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.

Although small in number, the U.A.E. armed forces are equipped with some of the most modern weapon systems, purchased from a variety of outside countries. The military has been reducing the number of foreign nationals in its ranks, and its officer corps is composed almost entirely of U.A.E. nationals. The U.A.E. air force has about 4,000 personnel. The Air Force has advanced U.S. F-16 BLOCK 60 multi-role fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 2000-9 fighters, British Hawk trainer aircraft, 36 transport aircraft and U.S. Apache and French Puma helicopters. The Air Defense Force is linked into a joint air defense system with the other six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations aimed at protecting the airspace of the allied states. The U.A.E. Navy is small—about 2,500 personnel—and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile boats. Although primarily concerned with coastal defense, the Navy is constructing a six-unit class of blue water corvettes in conjunction with French shipbuilder CMN. The U.A.E.'s Land Forces are equipped with several hundred French LeClerc tanks and a similar number of Russian BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles. The U.A.E. Special Operations Command (SOC) is a small but effective force centered on the counter-terrorism mission within the country. SOC is well-financed, trained, and equipped and is capable of executing its mission with a level of expertise equal to, or above, the rest of the GCC.

The U.A.E. contributes to the continued security and stability of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in the campaign against global terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas since September 11, 2001

ECONOMY

Prior to the first exports of oil in 1962, the U.A.E. economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in 1973, however, petroleum has dominated the economy, accounting for most of its export earnings and providing significant opportunities for investment. The U.A.E. has huge proven oil reserves, estimated at 98.8 billion barrels in 2003, with gas reserves estimated at (212 trillion cubic feet); at present production rates, these supplies would last well over 150 years. In 2006, the U.A.E. produced about 2.8 million barrels of oil per day.

Major increases in imports occurred in manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, which together accounted for 70% of total imports. Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest emirate—manages an estimated $600 billion in overseas investments.

More than 6,000 companies from more than 120 countries operate at the Jebel Ali complex in Dubai, which includes a deep-water port and a free trade zone for manufacturing and distribution in which all goods for re-export or transshipment enjoy a 100% duty exemption. A major power plant with associated water desalination units, an aluminum smelter, and a steel fabrication unit are prominent facilities near the complex.

Except in the free trade zone, the U.A.E. requires at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses operating in the country as part of its attempt to place Emiratis into leadership positions.

As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the U.A.E. participates in a wide range of GCC activities that focus on economic issues. These include regular consultations and development of common policies covering trade, investment, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, and other technical areas, including protection of intellectual property rights.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

The U.A.E. is a member of the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and most western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.

Substantial development assistance has increased the U.A.E.'s stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Following Iraq's 1990 invasion and attempted annexation of Kuwait, the U.A.E. has sought to rely on the GCC, the United States, and other Western allies for its security. The U.A.E. believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

In 2007, the U.A.E. pledged and delivered $300 million to Lebanon, and was the first country to fulfill its pledge. The U.A.E. has provided significant monetary and material support to the Iraqi Government, including a pledge of $215 million in economic and reconstruction assistance, and has also provided substantial aid to Afghanistan and the Palestinian Authority.

The U.A.E. is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized 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.

U.S.-U.A.E. RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed friendly relations with the U.A.E. since 1971. Private commercial ties, especially in petroleum, have developed into friendly government-to-government ties which include security assistance. The breadth, depth, and quality of U.S.-U.A.E. relations increased dramatically as a result of the U.S.-led coalition's campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. In 2002, the U.S. and the U.A.E. launched a strategic partnership dialogue covering virtually every aspect of the relationship. The U.A.E. has been a key partner in the War on Terror. U.A.E. ports host more U.S. Navy ships than any port outside the U.S. The United States was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the U.A.E. and has had an ambassador resident in the U.A.E. since 1974.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

ABU DHABI (E) P.O. Box 4009, APO/FPO Unit 6010, APO/AE 09825, +971-2-414-2200, Fax + 971-2-414-2575, Workweek: Sunday-Thursday 0830-1700, Website: http://uae.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Carol Bourne
AMB OMS:Kam Wong
CG OMS:Jennifer Johnson
DHS/ICE:Ransom Avilla
ECO:Oliver John
FCS:Christian Reed
FM:Michael Duprez
HRO:Jeff Ogren
MGT:Stewart T. Devine
CG:Paul Sutphin
CON:Robert Dolce
DCM:Martin Quinn
PAO:Steve L. Pike
GSO:Kaweem Koshan
RSO:James Aj Rowe
AFSA:David Zwach
ATO:David Williams
CLO:Nancy Dolce
DAO:Bret Rider
EEO:Carol Bourne
FAA:Roy Barnett
FAA/CASLORoy Barnett
FMO:Laura Danylin
ICASS:Chair Bret Rider
IMO:James B. Davidson
IRS:Kathy J. Beck
ISSO:James Davidson
LEGATT:Gary S. Price
POL:Alfred Magleby

DUBAI (CG), APO/FPO unit 6020, APO/AE 09825, 971-4-311-6000, Fax 971-4-311-6166, Workweek: Sun-Thurs, 0830-1700, Website: http://dubai.usconsulate.gov.

CG OMS:Jean Atkinson
DHS/ICE:Chris Walker
FCS:Patrick Wall
MGT:Marika Zadva
POL ECO:Susan Unruh
CG:Paul R. Sutphin
CON:Cynthia Ebeid
PAO:Marion Ram
GSO:Bradley Page
RSO:David Noonan
AFSA:Christina Cheshier
ATO:David J Williams
CLO:Mary Hudon
DEA:Richard Hudon
IPO:Janet Stevenson
IRS:Kathy J. Beck

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 6, 2007

Country Description: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry Requirements: A passport is required. For stays of less than 60 days, U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400. Visit the web site of the UAE's Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Unlike other countries in the region that accept U.S military ID cards as valid travel documents, the UAE requires U.S. military personnel to present a valid passport for entry/ exit.

UAE authorities will confiscate any weapons, weapon parts, ammunition, body armor, handcuffs, and/or other military/police equipment transported to or through a civilian airport. Americans have been arrested and jailed for transporting such weapons and equipment without the express written authorization of the UAE government, even though air-line and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a US-originating flight.

U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.

Safety and Security: Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

Taking photographs of potentially-sensitive UAE military and civilian sites, or foreign diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy, may result in arrest, detention and/or prosecution by local authorities. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping which includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences.

On several occasions in the past three years, small groups of expatriate recreational boaters were detained by the Iranian Coast Guard for alleged violation of Iranian territorial waters while fishing near the island of Abu Musa, approximately 20 miles from Dubai. The UAE and Iran have had a long-standing dispute concerning jurisdiction of Abu Musa. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. Obtaining consular assistance in Iran is difficult and can only be done through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which acts as a Protecting Power, providing limited U.S. consular services.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State Internet site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert and the Middle East and North Africa Travel Alert, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers out-side the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended. Although vehicle break-ins in the UAE are rare, U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that unattended vehicles are locked and that valuables are not left out in plain sight.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://ww.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the United Arab Emirates is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The police emergency number and ambulance number is 999. Mobile phones are widely used throughout the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate. However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.

Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consumption of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail, until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other vehicle is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as “dhiyya”), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver's license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should any-one drive without a valid license.

You may also visit the web site of the UAE's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates’ air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals in the past. This act does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. In addition to being subject to all UAE laws, U.S. citizens who also hold UAE citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the UAE. For additional information, please refer to our Dual Nationality flyer.

U.S. citizens have at times become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen's passport. Travel bans may also be enforced against U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. Such travel bans, which are rigidly enforced, effectively prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country's Islamic traditions and are more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention to them. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report such incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai.

American citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE may have to present personal documents authenticated by the Department of State's Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. This can be a complex process involving local, state and federal offices and requiring several weeks to complete. For procedural information, the Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636, or by e-mail at [email protected] In order to meet UAE government requirements for school registrations and residency sponsorship for family members, Americans intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will need to have their marriage certificate and children's birth certificates, or custody/adoption decrees, if appropriate, authenticated by the Department of State in Washington, DC. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General cannot authenticate U.S. local- and state-issued personal, academic or professional documents; they will only be able to authenticate the final authentication document from the Department of State. Additional information on authentication of documents can be found at http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth. In terms of employment, a recent change to UAE labor law requires local sponsors to have employees’ diplomas, academic and/or occupational/professional certificates validated through a “Degree Verification” process established in the UAE. Prospective employees will be required to submit photocopies of such documents for verification to a firm under contract to the Ministry of Labor.

In addition, persons in the education and health professions reportedly have to meet two requirements for validation of their educational credentials at this time—the formal “chain” authentication of academic/ professional credentials in the U.S. and the “Degree Verification” process in the UAE. Different UAE Ministries have different requirements in this regard. Determining these requirements with one's prospective employer is strongly recommended before arrival in the UAE.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating UAE laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the UAE are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Since January 2006, possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs has resulted in sentences of four years imprisonment for foreign citizens transiting the UAE. Some drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States, and even some over-the-counter U.S. drugs and medications, are classified as narcotics in the UAE and are illegal to possess. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country. A person may be subject to arrest and prosecution if possession of prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine and similar narcotic-like ingredients) comes to the attention of local authorities. The U.S. Embassy's web site includes an unofficial list of such medicines, obtained from the UAE Ministry of Health. Most medications available in the U.S. are also available by doctors’ prescription through hospitals and pharmacies in the UAE.

In addition, the UAE's tough antinarcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.

Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment and/or fines. Bail generally is not available to non-resi-dents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned or deported.

If arrested, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General for assistance. The U.S. Consul will provide information on the local judicial system and a list of local attorneys. In Dubai, the U.S. Consul can also arrange for U.S. citizen detainees to meet with an ombudsman from the Human Rights Department of the Dubai police headquarters, if the detainee believes he or she is not being treated fairly.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living or traveling in the United Arab Emirates are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the United Arab Emirates. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located at Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2200, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 414-2241. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The after-hours telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2500. The Embassy Internet web site is http://uae.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000 (for after-hours emergencies, contact the Embassy at (971)(2) 414-2200 for the Dubai Duty Officer, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 311-6213. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The web site for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is http://dubai.usconsulate.gov.

The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai is Sunday through Thursday.

International Adoption

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

The American Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been informed by the Sharia Court that Sharia law does not permit adoption in the United Arab Emirates. The Sharia Court may grant a guardianship, but such a guardianship is insufficient for the filing of an 1-130 petition for U.S. immigration purposes, according to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Specific questions regarding adoption issues may be addressed to:

U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi
11th St. (also known as Al-Sudan St.)
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (2) 436-691
Fax: (971) (2) 435-786
After-hours telephone:
(971) (2) 434-457
Internet:
http://www.usembabu.gov.ae

U.S. Consulate General in Dubai
21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center
P.O. Box 9343
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (4) 313-115
Fax: (971) (4) 316-935

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
1255 22nd Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: (202) 955-7999

For further information on international adoption, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the UAE and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to the UAE are subject to the jurisdiction of UAE courts, as well as to the country's laws and regulations. American citizens planning a trip to the UAE with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: When child custody disputes arise between parents, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Sharia) law. Non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or non-UAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE. Non-residents of the UAE may also file custody cases in the UAE, but may need to authorize a UAE resident and/or a lawyer practicing in the UAE to act on their behalf for the duration of the case.

Non-Muslims are also permitted to file cases in the UAE family courts, under Sharia law. In determining issues of custody, UAE courts may take into consideration the parents” religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother's subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim. As a basic starting point under Sharia law, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody may be transferred to the father. If a child has attained an “age of discretion,” that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. A UAE lawyer should be contacted to discuss the definition of “age of discretion.”

If the court finds the mother “incompetent,” custody of a child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child's grandmother on the father's side. A finding of incompetence is left fully to the discretion of the Sharia judge. Sharia courts consistently find parents incompetent if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Further, a mother may lose her rights of custody should she remarry. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children may be given to the child's paternal grandparents.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a UAE court may wish to retain an attorney in the UAE. The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai maintain a list of attorneys practicing in the area. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in the UAE. UAE courts will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in the UAE to pay child support. An American parent with a U.S. court order granting him or her custody can present that order to the court, and the court may take it into consideration, but it will not be binding in a custody proceeding in the UAE.

Visitation Rights: Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities. In some cases the custodial parent and family have been very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the non-custodial parent to visit and maintain contact with the child, but in other cases the custodial parent and family have not been so accommodating.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under UAE law. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where the child was born. In certain circumstances, UAE mothers can also transmit citizenship. UAE citizens must enter and exit the country on UAE passports.

Travel Restrictions: Exit visas are not required to leave the UAE. However, all persons exiting the country must exit on the passport that shows proof of the person's legal status in the UAE, meaning either their residence or entry visa. A parent can obtain a court order that places a travel ban on a child, and this ban will be enforced at all the airports in the country. If a parent attempts to leave with a child who has been placed under a travel ban, this could potentially lead to new legal issues concerning the custody of the child.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Compiled from the September 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
United Arab Emirates


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.

Cities (2002 est.):

Capital—Abu Dhabi (pop. 1,000,000); Dubai (pop. 860,000).

Terrain:

Largely desert with some agricultural areas.

Climate:

Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—UAE, Emirati.

Population (2003 est.):

4.041 million.

Annual growth rate:

6.9%.

Ethnic groups:

Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Filipino, Other Arab, (15-20% of residents are UAE citizens).

Religion:

Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.

Language:

Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian.

Education:

Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy (UAE citizens)—about 80%.

Health:

Life expectancy—About 74 yrs.

Work force (2003) 2.485 million (93% foreign in 15-64 age group):

Agriculture—8%; industry—32%; services—60%.

Government

Type:

Federation of emirates.

Independence:

December 2, 1971. Provisional constitution: December 2, 1971.

Branches:

Executive—7-member Supreme Council of Rulers, which elects president and vice president. Legislative—40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial—Islamic and secular courts.

Administrative subdivisions:

Seven largely self-governing city-states.

Political parties:

None.

Suffrage:

None.

Central government budget (2004):

$6.5 billion.

Economy

GDP (2004):

$102 billion.

Annual growth rate:

7%.

Per capita GDP (2004):

$21,600.

Inflation rate (2004 est.):

4.6%.

Natural resources:

Oil and natural gas.

Agriculture (3.0% of GDP):

Products—vegetables, dates, dairy products, poultry, fish.

Petroleum:

31.9% of 2003 GDP.

Other industry:

25% of 2002 GDP.

Services (44% of 2003 GDP):

Trade, government, real estate.

Trade (2004 est.):

Exports—$82.3 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets—Japan, India, Singapore, Iran. Imports—$54.2 billion: machinery, consumer goods, food. Major suppliers—western Europe, Japan, U.S. (6.5%), China, India.

Foreign economic aid (2003):

In excess of $5.25 billion.


PEOPLE

Only 15-20% of the total population of 4.041 million are UAE citizens. The rest include significant numbers of other Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Afghanis, Filipinos, and west Europeans.

The majority of UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims with a small Shi'a minority. Most foreigners also are Muslim, although Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the UAE's foreign population.

Educational standards among UAE citizens population are rising rapidly. Citizens and temporary residents have taken advantage of facilities throughout the country. The UAE University in Al Ain had roughly 17,000 students in 2004. The Higher Colleges of Technology, a network of technical-vocational colleges, opened in 1989 with men's and women's campuses in each emirate. Zayed University

for women opened in 1998 with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


HISTORY

The UAE was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula Sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the 7th century; for centuries it was embroiled in dynastic disputes. It became known as the Pirate Coast as raiders based there harassed foreign shipping, although both European and Arab navies patrolled the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. Early British expeditions to protect the India trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast in 1819. The next year, a general peace treaty was signed to which all the principal sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the "Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce." It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the U.K. with other Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help out in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.

In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were unable to agree on terms of union, even though the termination date of the British treaty relationship was the end of 1971. Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of them entered into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The seventh, Ras al-Khaimah, joined in early 1972.

The UAE sent forces to liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf War.

In 2004, the UAE's first and only president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded him as Ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the Constitution, the UAE's Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as UAE Federal President. Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.


GOVERNMENT

Administratively, the UAE is a loose federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. The pace at which local government in each emirate evolves from traditional to modern is set primarily by the ruler. Under the provisional constitution of 1971, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (notably oil) and revenues. In this milieu, federal powers have developed slowly. The constitution established the positions of President (Chief of State) and Vice President, each serving 5-year terms; a Council of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister (head of government); a supreme council of rulers; and a 40-member National Assembly, a consultative body whose members are appointed by the emirate rulers.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/5/2006

President: KHALIFA bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Vice President: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum
Prime Minister: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum
Dep. Prime Min.: SULTAN bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Dep. Prime Min.: HAMDAN bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Agriculture & Fisheries: Said Muhammad al-RAQABANI
Min. of Communications: Sultan bin Said al-MANSURI
Min. of Defense: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum
Min. of Economy & Planning: LUBNA al-Qasimi
Min. of Education: NUHAYYAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Energy: Muhammad bin Dhain al-HAMILI
Min. of Finance & Industry: HAMDAN bin Rashid al-Maktum
Min. of Foreign Affairs: RASHID bin Abdallah al-Nuaymi
Min. of Health: Hamad bin Abd al-Rahman al-MADFA
Min. of Information & Culture: ABDALLAH bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Interior: SAIF bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Justice, Islamic Affairs, & Awqaf: Muhammad Nakhira al-DHAHIRI
Min. of Labor & Social Affairs: Ali bin Abdallah al-KABI
Min. of Presidential Affairs: MANSUR bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Public Works: HAMDAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan
Min. of Supreme Council & GCC Affairs: FAHIM bin Sultan al-Qasimi
Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs: Said Khalfan al-GHAYTH
Min. of State for Finance & Industry: Muhammad bin Khalfan al-KHARBASH
Min. of State for Foreign Affairs: HAMDAN bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan
Governor, Central Bank: Sultan bin Nasir al-SUWAYDI
Ambassador to the US: Asri Said Ahmad al-DHAHIRI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir al-SHAMSI

The UAE maintains an embassy in the United States at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC, 20008 (tel. 202-243-2400). The UAE Mission to the UN is located at 747 3rd Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-371-0480).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The relative political and financial influence of each emirate is reflected in the allocation of positions in the federal government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose emirate is the UAE's major oil producer, is president of the UAE. The ruler of Dubai, which is the UAE's commercial center, is vice president and prime minister.

Since achieving independence in 1971, the UAE has worked to strengthen its federal institutions. Nonetheless, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy, and progress toward greater federal integration has slowed in recent years. A basic concept in the UAE Government's development as a federal system is that a significant percentage of each emirate's revenues should be devoted to the UAE central budget.

The UAE has no political parties. There is talk of steps toward democratic government, but nothing concrete has emerged. The rulers hold power on the basis of their dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus. Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society but have not fundamentally altered this traditional political system.


DEFENSE

The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast and commanded by British officers, were turned over to the UAE as its defense forces in 1971. The UAE armed forces, consisting of 65,500 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.

The UAE military relies heavily on troop force from other Arab countries and Pakistan. The officer corps, however, is composed almost exclusively of UAE nationals. The air force is linked into a joint air defense system with the other six national of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) aimed at protecting the airspace of the allied states.

The UAE air force has about 4,000 personnel. The air force has begun receiving the first of its 80 advanced U.S. F-16 multirole fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 2000-9s, British Hawk aircraft, 36 transport aircraft and U.S. Apache and French Puma helicopters. The UAE has taken delivery of two of five Triad I-Hawk batteries. The UAE navy is small—about 2,500 personnel—and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile crafts. Although primarily concerned with coastal defense, the navy is currently expanding and modernizing its force to include blue water capabilities.

The UAE contributes to the continued security and stability of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in the campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas since September 11, 2001. The UAE military currently provides humanitarian assistance to Iraq.


ECONOMY

Prior to the first exports of oil in 1962, the UAE economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in 1973, however, petroleum has dominated the economy, accounting for most of its export earnings and providing significant opportunities for investment. The UAE has huge proven oil reserves, estimated at 98.8 billion barrels in 2003, with gas reserves estimated at (212 trillion cubic feet); at present production rates, these supplies would last well over 150 years.

In 2004, the UAE produced about 2.4 million barrels of oil per day—of which Abu Dhabi produced approximately 94%—with Dubai, and Sharjah to a much lesser extent, producing the rest.

Major increases in imports occurred in manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, which together accounted for 70% of total imports. Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest emirate—manages an estimated $250 billion in overseas investments.

More than 200 factories operate at the Jebel Ali complex in Dubai, which includes a deep-water port and a free trade zone for manufacturing and distribution in which all goods for re-export or transshipment enjoy a 100% duty exemption. A major power plant with associated water desalination units, an aluminum smelter, and a steel fabrication unit are prominent facilities in the complex.

Except in the free trade zone, the UAE requires at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses operating in the country as part of its attempt to place Emiratis into leadership positions.

As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE participates in the wide range of GCC activities that focus on economic issues. These include regular consultations and development of common policies covering trade, investment, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, and other technical areas, including protection of intellectual property rights.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

The UAE joined the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and most western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.

Substantial development assistance has increased the UAE's stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Following Iraq's 1990 invasion and attempted annexation of Kuwait, the UAE has sought to rely on the GCC, the United States, and other Western allies for its security. The UAE believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

The UAE is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.


U.S.-UAE RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed friendly relations with the UAE since 1971. Private commercial ties, especially in petroleum, have developed into friendly government-to-government ties which include security assistance. The breadth, depth, and quality of U.S.-UAE relations increased dramatically as a result of the U.S.-led coalition's campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. In 2002, the U.S. and the UAE launched a strategic partnership dialogue covering virtually every aspect of the relationship. The UAE has been a key partner in the war on terror after September 11, 2001. The United States was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador resident in the UAE since 1974.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

ABU DHABI (E) Address: P.O. Box 4009; APO/FPO: Unit 6010, APO AE 09825; Phone: +971-2-414-2200; Fax: +971-2-414-2469; Workweek: 0830 - 1700; Website: usembassy.state.gov/uae.

AMB:Michele J. Sison
AMB OMS:Kam Wong
DCM:Martin Quinn
DCM OMS:Carol Bourne
POL:Joel Maybury
CON:Robert Dolce
MGT:Debra Smoker-Ali
ATO:Mike Henney
CLO:Nejla B. Zary
DAO:Brian Kerins
ECO:Oliver John
EEO:Carol Bourne
FAA:Paul Bartko
FAA/CASLO:Paul Bartko
FCS:Christian Reed
FMO:Laura Danylin
GSO:Mary Davis
IMO:Bruce Chaplin
ISO:Christopher Gilbertson
ISSO:Bruce Chaplin
LEGATT:Daniel Roggenbuck
PAO:Hilary Olsin-Windecker
RSO:Thomas Barnard
Last Updated: 12/30/2005

DUBAI (CG) Address:; APO/FPO: yes (DPO); Phone: 971-4-311-6000; Fax: 971-4-311-6166; Workweek: Sat-Wed, 0830-1700; Website: usembabu.gov.ae.

PO:Jason Davis
POL:Jillian Burns
COM:Patrick Wall
CON:Cynthia Ebeid
MGT:Marika Zadva
AGR:Mike Henney
CLO:Ezahra Humenansky
CUS:Bud Adada
ECO:Kent Morris
FCS:Patrick Wall
GSO:Suzanne Gordon
ISO:Stephen Flora
OMS:Jennifer Johnson
PAO:Peter Neisuler
RSO:Frank Theus
Last Updated: 9/7/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 21, 2005

Country Description:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport is required. For stays of less than 60 days, U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 3522 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400. In addition, visit the website of the UAE's Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Unlike other countries in the region that accept U.S. military ID cards as valid travel documents, the UAE requires U.S. military personnel to present a valid passport for entry/exit.

UAE authorities will confiscate any weapons transported to or through a civilian airport. Americans have been arrested and jailed for transporting weapons without the express written authorization of the UAE government, even though airline and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a US-originating flight.

U.S. citizens, and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.

Safety and Security:

Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

Taking photographs of potentially-sensitive military or civilian sites, and/or engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping which includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may result in arrest, detention and/or prosecution by local authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and other Public Announcements can be found.

Crime:

Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the United Arab Emirates is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The police emergency number is 999; the ambulance number is 998. Mobile phones are widely used throughout the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate. However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.

Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consumption of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other vehicle is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively-minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver's license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.

In addition, visit the website of the UAE's Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates' air carrier operations.

As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf Air flight in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Department of Defense has recommended that military commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for official travel.

Special Circumstances:

The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have in the past confiscated U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. In addition to being subject to all UAE laws, U.S. citizens who also hold UAE citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the UAE. For additional information, please refer to our Dual Nationality flyer available on the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. citizens may become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that prompt local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen's passport. Travel bans may also be enforced for U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country's Islamic traditions and are more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention to them. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report such incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai.

American citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE should have various their personal, academic and professional documents authenticated by the Department of State's Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. This can be a complex process involving local, state and federal offices and requiring several weeks to complete. For procedural information, the Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636, or by e-mail at [email protected] In order to meet UAE government requirements for employment and school registrations, Americans intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will also need to have their marriage certificate and children's birth certificates authenticated by the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

UAE labor law requires local sponsors to produce employees' academic and/or occupational/professional certificates, duly authenticated by the Foreign Ministry of the individual's country (for the U.S., the Department of State), before a work permit can be issued. The US Embassy and Consulate General cannot authenticate U.S. local- and state-issued personal, academic or professional documents; they will only be able to authenticate the final authentication document from the Department of State. Additional information on authentication of documents can be found at http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating United Arab Emirates laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the United Arab Emirates are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Some drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States, and even some over-the-counter U.S. drugs and medications, are classified as narcotics in the UAE and are illegal to possess. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country. A person may be subject to arrest and prosecution if possession of prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine and similar narcotic-like ingredients) comes to the attention of local authorities. The U.S. Embassy's website (http://usembassy.state.gov/uae) includes an unofficial list of such medicines, obtained from the UAE Ministry of Health. Most medications available in the U.S. are also available by doctors' prescription through hospitals and pharmacies in the UAE.

In addition, the UAE's tough antinarcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.

Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment and/or fines. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for fraud crimes.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned.

If arrested, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The U.S. Consul will provide information on the local judicial system and a list of local attorneys. In Dubai, the U.S. Consul can also arrange for U.S.-citizen detainees to meet with an ombudsman from the Human Rights Department of the Dubai police headquarters, if the detainee believes he or she is not being treated fairly.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in the United Arab Emirates are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the United Arab Emirates. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located at Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2200, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 414-2241. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The afterhours telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2500. The Embassy Internet web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/uae/

The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 331-8594. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The website for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai can be accessed through the Embassy website. The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel. The American Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been informed by the Sharia Court that Sharia law does not permit adoption in the United Arab Emirates. The Sharia Court may grant a guardianship, but such a guardianship is insufficient for the filing of an I-130 petition for U.S. immigration purposes, according to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Specific questions regarding adoption issues may be addressed to:

U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi
11th St. (also known as Al-Sudan St.)
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (2) 436-691
Fax: (971) (2) 435-786
After-hours telephone: (971) (2) 434-457
Internet: http://www.usembabu.gov.ae

U.S. Consulate General in Dubai
21st floor of the
Dubai World Trade Center
P.O. Box 9343
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (4) 313-115
Fax: (971) (4) 316-935

Note:

The work week for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Embassy of the United Arab
Emirates
1255 22nd Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: (202) 955-7999

For further information on international inter-country adoption issues, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to:

Office of Children's Issues
SA-29, 4th Floor
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Phone: 1-888-407-4747
Fax: (202) 312-9743

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General Information:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the UAE and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to the UAE are subject to the jurisdiction of UAE courts, as well as to the country's laws and regulations. American citizens planning a trip to the UAE with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes:

When child custody disputes arise between parents, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Shari'a) law. Non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or non-UAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE. Non-residents of the UAE may also file custody cases in the UAE, but may need to authorize a UAE resident and/or a lawyer practicing in the UAE to act on their behalf for the duration of the case. Non-Muslims are also permitted to file cases in the UAE family courts, under Shari'a law. In determining issues of custody, UAE courts may take into consideration the parents' religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother's subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim.

As a basic starting point under Shari'a law, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody may be transferred to the father. If a child has attained an "age of discretion," that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. A UAE lawyer should be contacted to discuss the definition of "age of discretion." If the court finds the mother "incompetent," custody of a child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child's grandmother on the father's side. A finding of incompetence is left fully to the discretion of the Shari'a judge. Shari'a courts consistently find parents incompetent if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Further, a mother may lose her rights of custody should she remarry. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children may be given to the child's paternal grandparents. Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a UAE court may wish to retain an attorney in the UAE.

The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai maintain a list of attorneys practicing in the area. A copy of this list may be obtained by contacting any of these offices, but the Embassy and the Consulate cannot recommend any specific attorney, and make no claim as to the ability or the integrity of the attorneys on the list. The Embassy and the Consulate cannot pay for any legal expenses incurred. U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi P.O. Box 4009 Abu Dhabi, UAE Phone: 971 2 443 6691 After hours emergency phone number: 971 2 443 4457 Fax: 971 2 443 5786 Workweek: Saturday through Wednesday U.S. Consulate General Dubai P.O. Box 9343 Dubai, UAE Phone: 971 4 311 6000.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments:

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in the UAE. UAE courts will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in the UAE to pay child support. An American parent with a U.S. court order granting him or her custody can present that order to the court, and the court may take it into consideration, but it will not be binding in a custody proceeding in the UAE.

Visitation Rights:

Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities. In some cases the custodial parent and family have been very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the non-custodial parent to visit and maintain contact with the child, but in other cases the custodial parent and family have not been so accommodating.

Dual Nationality:

Dual nationality is not recognized under UAE law. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where the child was born. In certain circumstances, UAE mothers can also transmit citizenship. UAE citizens must enter and exit the country on UAE passports.

Travel Restrictions:

Exit visas are not required to leave the UAE. However, all persons exiting the country must exit on the passport that shows proof of the person's legal status in the UAE, meaning either their residence or entry visa. A parent can obtain a court order that places a travel ban on a child, and this ban will be enforced at all the airports in the country. If a parent attempts to leave with a child who has been placed under a travel ban, this could potentially lead to new legal issues concerning the custody of the child.

Criminal Remedies:

For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department website on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Emirians

35 Bibliography

United Arab Emirates Al-Imarat al-’Arabiyah al-Muttahidah

CAPITAL: Abu Dhabi (Abu Zaby)

FLAG: The flag consists of a red vertical stripe at the hoist and three equal horizontal stripes of green, white, and black.

ANTHEM: The National Anthem is an instrumental piece without words.

MONETARY UNIT: The United Arab Emirates dirham (ud), introduced as the currency in May 1973, is divided into 100 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils and 1 and 5 dirham and notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams. ud1 = $0.27337 (or $1 = ud3.658) as of January 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system and imperial and local measures are used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Accession of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi only), 6 August; National Day, 2 December; Christmas, 25 December. Muslim religious holidays include Lailat al-Miraj, ‘Id al-Fitr, ‘Id al-’Adha’, Hijra New Year, and Milad an-Nabi.

TIME: 4 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Comprising a total area of approximately 82,880 square kilometers (32,000 square miles), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located on the eastern Arabian Peninsula. It consists of seven states, or emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai (Dubayy), Ash Shariqah, Ra’s al-Khaymah, Al Fujayrah, Umm al-Qaywayn, and ‘Ajman. Comparatively, the area occupied by the UAE is slightly smaller than the state of Maine. The country shares borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia, with a total land boundary length of about 867 kilometers (539 miles) and a coastline (Persian Gulf) of 1,318 kilometers (819 miles).

In 1974, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi reportedly reached a boundary agreement that gave a narrow corridor of land to Saudi Arabia, thus allowing Saudi Arabia access to the Gulf and eliminating the UAE border with Qatar. In 2003, a border agreement was signed and ratified, but the contents of the agreement had not been published as of late 2005.

The UAE’s capital city, Abu Dhabi, is located on the Persian Gulf.

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 82,880 sq km (32,000 sq mi)

Size ranking: 113 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,527 meters (5,010 feet) at Mount Yibir (Jabal Yibir)

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Persian Gulf

Land Use*

Arable land: 1%

Permanent crops: 2%

Other: 97%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 13 centimeters (5.1 inches)

Average temperature in January: 14–28°C (57–82°F)

Average temperature in July: 28–41°C (82–106°F)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

2 Topography

The United Arab Emirates consists mainly of sandy desert. It is bounded on the west by an immense sebkha, or salt flat, extending southward for nearly 112 kilometers (70 miles). The eastern boundary runs northward over gravel plains and high dunes until it almost reaches the Hajar Mountains in the Ra’s Musandam near Al ‘Ayn. The highest point is Mount Yibir, at an elevation of 1,527 meters (5,010 feet).

The flat coastal strip that makes up most of the United Arab Emirates has an extensive area of sebkha that is subject to flooding. Some sand spits and mud flats tend to enlarge lagoons, while others enclose them. Far to the south, the oases of Al-Liwa’ are aligned in an arc along the edge of dunes that rise above 90 meters (300 feet).

The country also includes many islands, most of which are owned by Abu Dhabi. Two of these are Das, the site of oil operations, and Abu Musa, which is exploited for its oil and red oxide.

3 Climate

The months between May and October are extremely hot, with shade temperatures ranging between 38 and 49°c (100 and 120°F) and high humidity near the coast. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 2°c (36°F) but average between 17 and 20°c (63 and 68°F). The average annual rainfall is 13 centimeters (5.1 inches).

4 Plants and Animals

Apart from cultivated plants, there are two categories of plant life in the United Arab Emirates: the restricted, salt-loving vegetation of the marshes and swamps, including the dwarf man-grove, and the desert plant community, which includes a wide range of flora that is most abundant after it rains.

Animal and reptile life is similar to that of Bahrain, with the addition of the fox, wolf, jackal, wildcat, and lynx. Hedgehogs also have been seen. More than 250 species of small birds have been reported in the United Arab Emirates, along with many of the larger birds-kites, buzzards, eagles, falcons, owls, and harriers. Sea birds include a variety of gulls, terns, ospreys, waders, and flamingos. Popular game birds include the houbara (ruffed bustard), as well as various species of ducks and geese.

5 Environment

The clearing of natural vegetation, livestock overgrazing on range lands, and extensive deforestation have led to desertification (transformation of fertile land to desert). Overpumping of groundwater has brought a rise in soil salinity (salt) levels, and emissions from the oil industry have contributed to air pollution. The United Arab Emirates have been ranked among the countries with the world’s highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

As of 2001, the nation had two land areas that were protected by environmental legislation. The Al ‘Ayn zoological gardens contain some 280 species of wildlife, including the gazelle, which had been on the verge of extinction in the region. In 2006, threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 11 species f birds, 1 type of reptile, and 6 species of fish. Endangered species in the United Arab Emirates are the peregrine falcon, South Arabian leopard, hawksbill turtle, gray wolf, Arabian oryx, Arabian tahr, green sea turtle, and desert monitor.

6 Population

The population was estimated at 4.6 million in 2005. The projected population for the year 2025 is 6.8 million. The population density in 2005 was 52 people per square kilometer (143 per square mile). Abu Dhabi had a population of 475,000 in 2005.

7 Migration

About 80% of the UAE’s population originates from outside its borders. In the early 1980s, the government tried to reduce the immigration rate by limiting the number of visas issued to foreign workers. In 2003, foreigners still made up about 90% of the work force. The government has begun to prohibit foreign workers in some jobs and the institute cultural diversity policies that favor Arabic-speaking workers over Asians.

In 2000, there were some 1,922,000 migrants living in the United Arab Emirates, including a small number of refugees. The estimated net migration rate for 2005 was 0.84 migrants per 1,000 population.

8 Ethnic Groups

South Asians (Asian Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans) account for about 50% of the population. The native Emirati account for only about 19% of the population, while other Arabs and Iranians made up 23%. Other expatriates, including Westerners and East Asians, totaled 8%. Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis, and Bahrainis are employed throughout the government, including the educational system.

9 Languages

Arabic is the official and universal language. Hindi and Urdu are minority languages. English is widely used in business. Farsi is spoken in Dubai.

10 Religions

Islam is the official religion of all seven emirates. As such, about 76% of the population is Muslim. Most Muslims are Sunnis, but there are Shiites as well. The government does not recognize all non-Muslim religions. In emirates that officially grant legal identity to non-Muslim groups, only a limited number of Christian groups receive this recognition. About 9% of the population are Christians. There are also Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Baha’is, and Sikhs.

11 Transportation

In 2002 there were 4,835 kilometers (3,004 miles) of paved highways. In 2003, there were 240,573 registered passenger cars and 70,000 commercial vehicles. There are no railways or inland waterways in the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai’s Port Rashid is one of the largest artificial harbors in the Middle East. Other ports are the Jabal ‘Ali complex and Abu Dhabi’s Port Zayid. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 56 ships with a capacity totaling 578,477 gross registered tons (GRT).

In 2005, there were 35 airports, of which 22 had paved runways. In 2003, scheduled domestic and international airline flights carried over 11.3 million passengers.

12 History

Abu Dhabi island was settled by its present ruling family, Al-Nahyan, toward the end of the 18th century, and Dubai was founded by an off-shoot of the same family in 1833. The late 18th and 19th centuries brought about the division of the area between the Nahyan and the Qawasim, who ruled Ra’s al-Khaymah and neighboring territories.

Treaties signed in 1820 and 1835 established a formal relationship between the states of the southern Persian Gulf and Britain that lasted until 1971. In 1892, the United Kingdom promised to protect the coast from aggression by sea and land. In 1955, it intervened on the side of Abu Dhabi in its dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Al Buraymi oasis, near Al ‘Ayn, control of which is now shared by Abu Dhabi and Oman.

When, in 1968, the United Kingdom announced the withdrawal of its forces from the area, an agreement was reached to establish a federation of Arab emirates. The federation included the seven states of the present-day UAE, along with Bahrain and Qatar. In 1971, six of the seven present-day UAE states agreed on the establishment of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE was officially proclaimed a sovereign, independent nation on 2 December 1971, with the seventh state, Ra’s al-Khaymah, joining in early 1972.

UAE’s independence created problems between the new state and its two powerful neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia claimed a group of oases (fertile areas in deserts) in the south of the UAE. In 1974, a border agreement on the oases was signed with Saudi Arabia, but it has not been fully recognized by the UAE government.

During the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), the UAE gave aid to Iraq but also maintained diplomatic relations with Iran while seeking to mediate the conflict. In the Persian Gulf War (1991), forces from the UAE participated with troops allied against Iraq and the government gave some $4.5 billion to the coalition war effort.

A dispute with Iran over the offshore islands became tense when Iranian forces asserted control over the UAE section of Abu Musa (a tiny island west of Ra’s al-Khaymah) in 1992. In 1996, Iran rejected a proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC—founded in 1981 with the UAE as one of the original members) to put the dispute over the islands to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration. As of 2006, Iran still occupied the islands.

The UAE’s generosity with foreign aid to Arab states and cooperation with other countries and international organizations make it a significant player in the affairs of the region. During civil unrest in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the UAE airlifted wounded Bosnian women and their families to Abu Dhabi, where they were given free medical care, housing, and financial support for one year. The country has also given heavily to the Red Crescent (Red Cross) relief organizations in Bosnia.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States called upon the nations of the world to implement counterterrorism measures. In November 2001, the United Arab Emirates ordered financial institutions in the country to freeze the assets of 62 organizations and individuals suspected by the United States of supporting terrorist movements.

During 2002 and into 2003, when confronted with a potential U.S.-led war with Iraq, UAE president Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan Al Nahyan called upon Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to give up power and leave Iraq in exchange for immunity from prosecution. His proposal would have placed Iraq under the rule of the United Nations and the Arab League until a new government could be formed. But these diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis in Iraq ended on 19 March 2003, however, when war against Hussein began.

Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the UAE, died on 2 November 2004. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan.

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed

Position: President of a federation

Took Office: 3 November 2004

Birthdate: 1948

Of interest: He is interested in the traditional sports of the UAE, such as horse and camel racing.

13 Government

The executive branch of government consists of the Federal Supreme Council, headed by the president, and the Council of Ministers. The Federal Supreme Council, composed of the hereditary rulers of the seven emirates, has responsibility for formulation and supervision of all UAE policies, ratification of federal laws, and oversight of the union’s budget.

The president is assisted by the Council of Ministers, or cabinet, headed by the prime minister. The Federal National Council has 40 delegates appointed for 2-year terms by the rulers of the member emirates. The Federal National Council has no legislative power, but does have the right the question cabinet members and make recommendations to the Federal Supreme Council.

Most of the individual emirates (states) are governed according to tribal traditions, including open meetings in which citizens express themselves directly to their rulers. Municipalities are the major institutions of local government.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

14 Political Parties

No political parties exist in the UAE.

15 Judicial System

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Ash Shariqah have developed relatively sophisticated judicial systems based, as in other Persian Gulf states, on a combination of Shariah (Islamic) law and modern legal codes. The 1971 constitution established a Supreme Court and an unspecified number of lower courts. There are also courts of appeals. There are no jury trials.

16 Armed Forces

In 2005, the combined forces totaled 50,500 personnel. The army had 44,000 soldiers, including the Royal Guard. The navy was comprised of 2,500 personnel and the air force had 4,000 personnel. The defense budget for 2005 was about $2.65 billion.

17 Economy

Traditionally, the economy of the UAE centers primarily on oil and oil-based industries. With its strategic location, modern communications and transportation facilities, and strong banking system, however, the UAE also has become the major trading center in the Gulf region.

In Abu Dhabi, by far the wealthiest of the seven emirates (states), oil revenues are supplemented by income from a huge investment fund. Dubai is a center for trade that plays a major role in its economy.

Although there are small industries in ‘Ajman and Umm al-Qaywayn, these poorer areas depend on federal aid. Oil production in Ash Shariqah began in July 1974 and manufacturing and tourism there have been expanded. Ra’s al-Khaymah has cement plants, a pharmaceutical factory, a lime kiln, and the gulf’s first explosives plant. Fujayrah remains predominantly agricultural.

18 Income

In 2004, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United Arab Emirates was $51 billion, or about $21,100 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 9% in 2005. The average inflation rate in 2000 was 4.5%.

19 Industry

Manufacturing is the second largest contributor to the economy (after oil production). Manufacturing includes aluminum, cement, pharmaceuticals, fabricated metals, processed

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services. Components of the Economy

foods, fertilizer, and explosives. The industrial complex in Abu Dhabi includes an oil refinery, with a processing capacity of 120,000 barrels per day; a fertilizer factory, with a production capacity of 1,000 tons of ammonia and 1,500 tons of urea per day; and a gas liquefaction installation. The UAE has five other smaller oil refineries. The National Chlorine Industries produce salt, chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrochloric acid. In 2002, industry made up about 59% of the economy.

20 Labor

In 2005, the workforce was estimated at 2.8 million. As of 2001, the service sector offered job for 78% of the workforce, 15% worked in industry, and 7% worked in agriculture. In 2003, it was estimated that about 90% of the workforce were foreign workers. A 1984 decree guarantees UAE nationals priority in hiring in order to reduce dependence on foreign labor. Unionization is prohibited by law. There is no minimum wage, but labor contracts are reviewed by the Ministry of Labor to ensure that the pay will satisfy the employee’s basic needs and secure a means of living.

21 Agriculture

About 24% of cultivate land is used to grow vegetables, 30% fruits, 10% feed crops, and 36% for other crops. The most productive region is Ra’s al-Khaimah. In 2004, the nation produced about 506,400 million tons of vegetables and melons and 786,000 tons of fruit. Produce includes citrus, mangos, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peppers, and fodder crops. Dates, traditionally grown on oases by nomads, are becoming less important because of vegetable and fruit production. The UAE produced approximately 760,000 tons of dates in 2004. The UAE satisfies about 60% of its domestic fruit and vegetable demand. Roses and chrysanthemums are grown for export to Europe.

22 Domesticated Animals

In 2005, the livestock population included about 1.5 million goats, 570,000 sheep, 250,000 camels, and 115,000 head of cattle. Dairy farming is centered in Ra’s al-Khaymah, with other dairy farms in ‘Ajman, Umm al-Qaywayn, Ash Shariqah, and Dubai. The UAE produces about 90% of its dairy needs, 27% of its poultry needs, and 40% of its demand for eggs. Five major producers account for 75% of the domestic chicken production. The poultry farm at Fujairah has the capacity to supply over 15% of domestic demand for broilers and eggs. Ra’s al-Khaymah and ‘Ajman are other centers of poultry production. Production of poultry meat reached 36,000 tons in 2005, with imports of poultry meat bought from France, Denmark, the United States, and Brazil. The UAE also re-exports poultry meat, mostly to Oman, former Soviet republics, and Iran.

23 Fishing

Fishing is an important source of domestic food and animal feed. Per-capita annual consumption of fish and shellfish in the UAE is higher than that of any other country in the Middle East. UAE coastal waters abound in fish and shellfish and the country borders two high-potential fishing regions, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Many varieties of fish are caught, including rock cod, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, jack, marlin, red mullet, bream, and snapper. More than 70% of the catch typically is dried and processed into animal feed and fertilizer. The fish catch in 2003 was 97,450 tons, which supplied about 50% of local demand.

Modern fishing techniques have been introduced with government assistance. The government also provides free facilities for ship maintenance, as well as interest-free loans for the purchase of fishing boats and equipment. Annually, more than 3,000 fishing vessels operate in UAE waters. Umm al-Qaywayn is the site of a marine farm that does research for fish breeding. A fish-meal plant is in operation in Ra’s al-Khaymah.

24 Forestry

Natural woodland is scarce, except for groves along the northern and eastern coasts. In 2000, forested areas covered 321,000 hectares (793,000 acres), or about 3.8% of the total land area. The Forestry Department planted 80 million trees between 1980 and 1995, at a cost of more than $3 billion.

25 Mining

Other than oil and natural gas, the minerals sector includes fertilizer production and production of construction materials, marble, and stone quarried from the Hajar Mountains. Copper and chromium have been found in Al Fujayrah and Ra’s al-Khaymah. In 2003, about 11,023 tons of chromium were produced, as were 464,073 tons of ammonia and 440,924 tons of urea. Lime, gypsum, hydraulic cement, common clays, diabase, gravel, limestone, sand, and shale are also produced.

26 Foreign Trade

Crude oil, natural gas, dried fish, and dates are primary commodity exports. The primary imports are machinery, vehicles, electrical equipment, aircraft, cosmetics, tobacco, food, and other consumer goods. The primary export partners are Japan, South Korea, India, and Thailand. Primary import partners include China, India, Japan, and Germany.

27 Energy and Power

Total reserves of crude oil were estimated at 97.8 billion barrels in 2005. Oil production was estimated at about 2.76 million barrels per day in 2004. The UAE is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and, therefore, is subject to OPEC crude oil production quotas. The UAE’s proven natural gas reserves total about 6 trillion cubic meters (212 trillion cubic feet) as of 2005 and net production amounted to 36.2 billion cubic meters (1.28 tril-

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

lion cubic feet) in 2002. All electricity is thermally generated from oil or natural gas. Electric power production was 39.6 billion kilowatt-hours in 2002.

28 Social Development

There is no social security law in the UAE, but many welfare benefits are available to citizens, among them free hospital treatment and medical care and subsidies for education. Relief is available from a disaster fund for any domestic catastrophe. If the father of a family is unable to work because of illness, disability, or old age, he receives help under the National Assistance Law; should he die or divorce his wife, the woman’s future is secured.

Female employment is growing in government service and in occupations such as education

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorUnited Arab Emirates Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$24,090 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate6.4% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land52 803032
Life expectancy in years: male77 587675
female81 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people2.0 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)15 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)77.9% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people252 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people319 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)9,707 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)23.62 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

and health. A married woman can work outside the home, but only with her husband’s permission. Females are not permitted to leave the country without the permission of a male relative. Men may have more than one wife, but not more than four at one time.

29 Health

Modern hospitals have been built in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and other locations. As of 2004, there were an estimated 202 physicians, 418 nurses, and 33 dentists per 100,000 people. Average life expectancy in 2005 was 79 years, and the infant mortality rate was 14 per 1,000 live births.

Typhoid fever and tuberculosis are rare, but malaria remains a problem. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence rate in 2003 was 0.18 per 100 adults.

The federal government is attempting to make modern low-cost homes available to poorer families by supplying the dwellings with piped water, sewage systems, and electricity. At the 1995 census, there were 413,178 housing units in the nation. About 37% were located in Abu Dhabi and 27% were in Dubai.

31 Education

Education is compulsory for six years at the primary level and is free to all UAE citizens, as are school uniforms, books, equipment, and transportation. Arabic is a compulsory subject and

segregation of classes by sex is required. At the secondary level, children attend six years of education in two stages. In 2003, approximately 83% of primary-school-aged children enroll in school, while 71% of those eligible were enrolled in secondary school. The student-teacher ratio for primary school was about 15 to 1. The student-teacher ratio at secondary school was about 14 to 1.

United Arab Emirates University is the major state sponsored institute. Dubai University College, a private institution, was founded in 1997. As of 2003, it was estimated that about 35% of the adult population were enrolled in some type of continuing education program. In 2004, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 77.9%.

32 Media

Telecommunications operations in the emirates are all handled by ETISALAT. In 2003, the UAE had 281 mainline telephones and 736 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Nearly all television and radio stations are operated by the government. As of 2004, there were 13 AM and 8 FM radio stations and 15 television stations. In 2005, there were an estimated, 309 radios and 252 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 129 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 319 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

Arabic-language dailies published in the UAE in 2002 include: Al-Khalij (2002 circulation, 85,000), Al-Ittihad (Unity, 58,000), Al-Fajr (The Dawn, 50,000), Al-Wahdah (30,000), and Al-Bayan (32,650). There were three English-language dailies: the Gulf News (91,530) and Khaleej Times (72,000), published in Dubai, and the Emirates News (21,150), published in Abu Dhabi.

The constitution provides for free expression; however, in practice the government restricts expression. All published materials must be licensed by the Ministry of Education, which governs content and allowable subjects. The media practice self-censorship on the subjects of government policy, the ruling families, national security, religion, and international relations.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is encouraged in all areas. The UAE’s varied scenery includes mountains, beaches, deserts, and oases. Tourist activities include visits to Bedouin markets, museums, zoos, and aquariums. Many large world-class hotels have opened in recent years. Tourists numbered 5,871,023 in 2003.

34 Famous Emirians

Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004) was the ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966 and president of the UAE from 1971 until his death. His son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan (1948–), became president in the UAE in his place.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Augustin, Byron. United Arab Emirates. New York: Children’s Press, 2002.

Higgins, Kevin. The Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ajman. Reading, PA: Garnet Publishing, 1995.

Johnson, Julia. U.A.E.: United Arab Emirates. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000.

McCoy, Lisa. United Arab Emirates. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

Miller, Debra A. United Arab Emirates. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2004.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/untd_arab_em/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Analysis Briefs. www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/UAE/Background.html. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c2422.htm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.government.ae. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Compiled from the October 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
United Arab Emirates

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

DEFENSE

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-U.A.E. RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.

Cities: (2002 est.) Capital—Abu Dhabi (pop. 1,000,000); Dubai (pop. 860,000).

Terrain: Largely desert with some agricultural areas.

Climate: Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—U.A.E., Emirati.

Population: (2004 est.) 4.3 million.

Annual growth rate: 6.9%.

Ethnic groups: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Filipino, Other Arab, (15-20% of residents are U.A.E. citizens).

Religions: Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.

Languages: Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy (U.A.E. citizens)—about 80%.

Health: Life expectancy—About 74 yrs.

Work force: (2003) 2.485 million (93% foreign in 15-64 age group) Agriculture—8%; industry—32%; services—60%.

Government

Type: Federation of emirates.

Independence: December 2, 1971.

Provisional constitution: December 2, 1971.

Government branches: Executive—7-member Supreme Council of Rulers, which elects president and vice president. Legislative—40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial—Islamic and secular courts.

Political subdivisions: Seven largely self-governing city-states.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: None.

Budget: (2006) $7 billion.

Economy

GDP: (2004) $102 billion.

Annual growth rate: 7%.

Per capita GDP: (2004) $21,600.

Inflation rate: (2004 est.) 4.6%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Agriculture: (3.0% of GDP) Prod-ucts—vegetables, dates, dairy products, poultry, fish.

Petroleum: 31.9% of 2003 GDP.

Other industry: 25% of 2002 GDP.

Services: (44% of 2003 GDP) Trade, government, real estate.

Trade: (2004 est.) Exports—$82.3 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets—Japan, India, Singapore, Iran. Imports—$54.2 billion: machinery, consumer goods, food. Major suppliers—western Europe, Japan, U.S. (6.5%), China, India.

Foreign economic aid: (2003) In excess of $5.25 billion.

PEOPLE

Only 15-20% of the total population of 4.041 million are U.A.E. citizens. The rest include significant numbers of other Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Afghanis, Filipinos, and west Europeans. The majority of U.A.E. citizens are Sunni Muslims with a small Shi’a minority. Most foreigners also are Muslim, although Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the U.A.E.’s foreign population.

Educational standards among U.A.E. citizens population are rising rapidly. Citizens and temporary residents have taken advantage of facilities throughout the country. The UAE University in Al Ain had roughly 17,000 students in 2004. The Higher Colleges of Technology, a network of technical-vocational colleges, opened in 1989 with men’s and women’s campuses in each emirate. Zayed University for women opened in 1998 with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

HISTORY

The U.A.E. was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula Sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the Seventh century; for centuries it was embroiled in dynastic disputes. It became known as the Pirate Coast as raiders based there harassed foreign shipping, although both European and Arab navies patrolled the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. Early British expeditions to protect the India trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast in 1819. The next year, a general peace treaty was signed to which all the principal sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the “Trucial Sheikhdoms”) agreed to a “perpetual maritime truce.” It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the U.K. with other Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help out in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter’s dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the U.A.E. Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.

In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were unable to agree on terms of union, even though the termination date of the British treaty relationship was the end of 1971. Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of them entered into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The seventh, Ras al-Khaimah, joined in early 1972. The U.A.E. sent forces to liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf War.

In 2004, the U.A.E.’s first and only president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded him as Ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the Constitution, the U.A.E.’s Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as U.A.E. Federal President. Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In January 2006, Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid Al Maktum, U.A.E. Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, passed away and was replaced by his brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defense. On February 9, 2006, the U.A.E. announced a cabinet reshuffle.

GOVERNMENT

Administratively, the U.A.E. is a loose federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. The pace at which local government in each emirate evolves from traditional to modern is set primarily by the ruler. Under the provisional constitution of 1971, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (notably oil) and revenues. In this milieu, federal powers have developed slowly. The constitution established the positions of President (Chief of State) and Vice President, each serving 5-year terms; a Council of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister (head of government); a supreme council of rulers; and a 40-member National Assembly, a consultative body whose members are appointed by the emirate rulers.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/8/2006

President: KHALIFA bin Zayid alNuhayyan

Vice President: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Prime Minister: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Dep. Prime Min.: SULTAN bin Zayid alNuhayyan

Dep. Prime Min.: HAMDAN bin Zayid alNuhayyan

Min. of Culture, Youth, & Welfare: Abd al-Rahman Muhammad al-UWAIS

Min. of Defense: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum

Min. of Economy & Planning: LUBNA alQasimi

Min. of Education: Hanif Hassan Ali alQASIMI

Min. of Energy: Muhammad bin Dhain al-HAMILI

Min. of Environment & Water: Muhammad Said al-KINDI

Min. of Finance & Industry: HAMDAN bin Rashid al-Maktum

Min. of Foreign Affairs: ABDALLAH bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Health: Humaid Muhammad Ubayd al-QATAMI

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: NUHAYYAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Interior: SAIF bin Zayid alNuhayyan

Min. of Justice: Muhammad Nakhira alDHAHIRI

Min. of Labor: Ali bin Abdallah al-KABI

Min. of Presidential Affairs: MANSUR bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Public Sector & Development: Sultan bin Said al-MANSURI

Min. of Public Works: HAMDAN bin Mubarak al-Nuhayyan

Min. of Social Affairs: Mariam Muhammad al-RUMI

Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs: Muhammad Abdallah al-GARGAWI

Min. of State for Finance & Industry: Muhammad bin Khalfan alKHARBASH

Min. of State for Foreign Affairs: Muhammad Husayn al-SHALI

Min. of State for National Council Affairs: Anwar Muhammad al-GARGASH

Governor, Central Bank: Sultan bin Nasir al-SUWAYDI

Ambassador to the US: Saqr Ghobash Said GHOBASH

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir alSHAMSI

The U.A.E. maintains an embassy in the United States at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC, 20008 (tel. 202-243-2400). The U.A.E. Mission to the UN is located at 747 3rd Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-371-0480).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The relative political and financial influence of each emirate is reflected in the allocation of positions in the federal government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose emirate is the U.A.E.’s major oil producer, is president of the U.A.E. The ruler of Dubai, which is the U.A.E.’s commercial center, is vice president and prime minister.

Since achieving independence in 1971, the U.A.E. has worked to strengthen its federal institutions. Nonetheless, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy, and progress toward greater federal integration has slowed in recent years. A basic concept in the U.A.E. Govern-ment’s development as a federal system is that a significant percentage of each emirate’s revenues should be devoted to the U.A.E. central budget.

The U.A.E. has no political parties. There is talk of steps toward democratic government, but nothing concrete has emerged. The rulers hold power on the basis of their dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus. Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society but have not fundamentally altered this traditional political system.

DEFENSE

The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast and commanded by British officers, were turned over to the U.A.E. as its defense forces in 1971. The U.A.E. armed forces, consisting of 65,500 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.

The U.A.E. military relies heavily on troop forces from other Arab countries and Pakistan. The officer corps, however, is composed almost exclusively of U.A.E. nationals. The air force is linked into a joint air defense system with the other six national of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) aimed at protecting the airspace of the allied states.

The U.A.E. air force has about 4,000 personnel. The air force has begun receiving the first of its 80 advanced U.S. F-16 multirole fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 2000-9s, British Hawk aircraft, 36 transport aircraft and U.S. Apache and French Puma helicopters. The U.A.E. has taken delivery of two of five Triad I-Hawk batteries. The U.A.E. navy is small—about 2,500 personnel—and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile crafts. Although primarily concerned with coastal defense, the navy is currently expanding and modernizing its force to include blue water capabilities.

The U.A.E. contributes to the continued security and stability of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in the campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas since September 11, 2001. The U.A.E. military currently provides humanitarian assistance to Iraq.

ECONOMY

Prior to the first exports of oil in 1962, the U.A.E. economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in 1973, however, petroleum has dominated the economy, accounting for most of its export earnings and providing significant opportunities for investment. The U.A.E. has huge proven oil reserves, estimated at 98.8 billion barrels in 2003, with gas reserves estimated at (212 trillion cubic feet); at present production rates, these supplies would last well over 150 years.

In 2005, the U.A.E. produced about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day—of which Abu Dhabi produced approximately 94%—with Dubai, and Sharjah to a much lesser extent, producing the rest.

Major increases in imports occurred in manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, which together accounted for 70% of total imports. Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest emirate—manages an estimated $250 billion in overseas investments.

More than 200 factories operate at the Jebel Ali complex in Dubai, which includes a deep-water port and a free trade zone for manufacturing and distribution in which all goods for re-export or transshipment enjoy a 100% duty exemption. A major power plant with associated water desalination units, an aluminum smelter, and a steel fabrication unit are prominent facilities in the complex.

Except in the free trade zone, the U.A.E. requires at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses operating in the country as part of its attempt to place Emiratis into leadership positions.

As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the U.A.E. participates in the wide range of GCC activities that focus on economic issues. These include regular consultations and development of common policies covering trade, investment, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, and other technical areas, including protection of intellectual property rights.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

The U.A.E. is a member of the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, and most western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.

Substantial development assistance has increased the U.A.E.’s stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Following Iraq’s 1990 invasion and attempted annexation of Kuwait, the U.A.E. has sought to rely on the GCC, the United States, and other Western allies for its security. The U.A.E. believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

The U.A.E. is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.

U.S.-U.A.E. RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed friendly relations with the U.A.E. since 1971. Private commercial ties, especially in petroleum, have developed into friendly government-to-government ties which include security assistance. The breadth, depth, and quality of U.S.-U.A.E. relations increased dramatically as a result of the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. In 2002, the U.S. and the U.A.E. launched a strategic partnership dialogue covering virtually every aspect of the relationship. The U.A.E. has been a key partner in the War on Terror. The United States was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the U.A.E. and has had an ambassador resident in the U.A.E. since 1974.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

ABU DHABI (E) Address: P.O. Box 4009; APO/FPO: Unit 6010, APO AE 09825; Phone: +971-2-414-2200; Fax: + 971-2-414-2469; Workweek: Sunday-Thursday 830am–5:00pm; Web-site: usembassy.state.gov/uae.

AMB:Michele J. Sison
AMB OMS:Kam Wong
DCM:Martin Quinn
DCM OMS:Carol Bourne
CG:Paul Sutphin CG
OMS:Jennifer Johnson
POL:Alfred Magleby
CON:Robert Dolce
MGT:Debra Smoker-Ali
AFSA:David Zwach
ATO:David Williams
CLO:Nancy Dolce
DAO:Brian Kerins
ECO:Oliver John
EEO:Carol Bourne
FAA:Paul Bartko
FAA/CASLO:Paul Bartko
FCS:Christian Reed
FMO:Laura Danylin
GSO:Mary Davis
ICASS Chair:Brian Kerins
IMO:Bruce Chaplin
IRS:Kathy J. Beck
ISO:Christopher Gilbertson
ISSO:Bruce Chaplin
LEGATT:Daniel Roggenbuck
PAO:Hilary Olsin-Windecker
RSO:Thomas Barnard
State ICASS:Hilary Olsin-Windecker

Last Updated: 1/29/2007

DUBAI (CG) Address:; APO/FPO: unit 6000, APO AE 09825; Phone: 971-4-311-6000; Fax: 971-4-311-6166; Workweek: SunThurs, 0830-1700; Website: http://dubai.usconsulate.gov.

CG:Paul R. Sutphin
CG OMS:Jennifer B. Johnson
POL/ECO:Kent Morris
CON:Cynthia Ebeid
MGT:Marika Zadva
AFSA:Valerie Chittenden
ATO:David J Williams
CLO:Larry R Bosley
CUS:Bud Adada
DEA:Richard Hudon
FCS:Patrick Wall
GSO:Bradley Page
IPO:Stephen Flora
IRS:Kathy J. Beck
PAO:Marion Ram
RSO:Chase H Boardman

Last Updated: 1/25/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : December 8, 2006

Country Description: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country’s customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport is required. For stays of less than 60 days, U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 3522 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400. Visit the website of the UAE’s Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Unlike other countries in the region that accept U.S. military ID cards as valid travel documents, the UAE requires U.S. military personnel to present a valid passport for entry/exit.

UAE authorities will confiscate any weapons, weapon parts, ammunition, body armor, handcuffs, and/or other military/police equipment transported to or through a civilian airport. Americans have been arrested and jailed for transporting such weapons and equipment without the express written authorization of the UAE government, even though airline and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a U.S.-originating flight.

U.S. citizens, and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.

Safety and Security: Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

Taking photographs of potentially-sensitive UAE military and civilian sites, or foreign diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy, may result in arrest, detention and/or prosecution by local authorities. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping which includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences.

In the Fall of 2005, British, French and German boaters were detained by the Iranian Coast Guard for alleged violation of Iranian territorial waters while engaging in recreational fishing near the island of Abu Musa, approximately 20 miles from Dubai. The UAE and Iran have had a longstanding dispute concerning jurisdiction of Abu Musa. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. Obtaining consular assistance in Iran is difficult and can only be done through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which acts as a Protecting Power, providing limited U.S. consular services.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended. Although vehicle break-ins in the UAE are rare, U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that unattended vehicles are locked and that valuables are not left out in plain sight.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the United Arab Emirates is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The police emergency number is 999; the ambulance number is 998. Mobile phones are widely used throughout the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate. However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site.

Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.

Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consumption of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other vehicle is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as “dhiyya”), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver’s license. Foreign driver’s licenses are not recognized. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver’s license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver’s licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.

Visit the website of the UAE’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates’ air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals in the past. This act does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

In addition to being subject to all UAE laws, U.S. citizens who also hold UAE citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the UAE.

U.S. citizens have at times become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen’s passport. Travel bans may also be enforced against U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. Such travel bans, which are rigidly enforced, effectively prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee’s passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country’s Islamic traditions and are more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention to them. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report such incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai.

American citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE may have to present personal documents authenticated by the Department of State’s Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. This can be a complex process involving local, state and federal offices and requiring several weeks to complete. For procedural information, the Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636, or by e-mail at [email protected] In order to meet UAE government requirements for school registrations and residency sponsorship for family members, Americans intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will need to have their marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates, or custody/adoption decrees, if appropriate, authenticated by the Department of State in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General cannot authenticate U.S. local- and state-issued personal, academic or professional documents; they will only be able to authenticate the final authentication document from the Department of State. Additional information on authentication of documents can be found at http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/. In terms of employment, a recent change to UAE labor law requires local sponsors to have employees’ diplomas, academic and/or occupational/professional certificates validated through a “Degree Verification” process established in the UAE. Prospective employees will be required to submit photocopies of such documents for verification to a firm under contract to the Ministry of Labor.

In addition, persons in the education and health professions reportedly have to meet two requirements for validation of their educational credentials at this time – the formal “chain” authentication of academic/professional credentials in the U.S. and the “Degree Verification” process in the UAE. Different UAE Ministries have different requirements in this regard. Determining these requirements with one’s prospective employer is strongly recommended before arrival in the UAE.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating UAE laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the UAE are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Since January 2006, possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs has resulted in sentences of four years imprisonment for foreign citizens transiting the UAE. Some drugs normally taken under a doctor’s supervision in the United States, and even some over-the-counter U.S. drugs and medications, are classified as narcotics in the UAE and are illegal to possess. A doctor’s prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country. A person may be subject to arrest and prosecution if possession of prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine and similar narcotic-like ingredients) comes to the attention of local authorities. The U.S. Embassy’s website includes an unofficial list of such medicines, obtained from the UAE Ministry of Health. Most medications available in the U.S. are also available by doctors’ prescription through hospitals and pharmacies in the UAE.

In addition, the UAE’s tough anti-narcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.

Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment and/or fines. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel.

Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned or deported.

If arrested, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General for assistance. The U.S. Consul will provide information on the local judicial system and a list of local attorneys. In Dubai, the U.S. Consul can also arrange for U.S. citizen detainees to meet with an ombudsman from the Human Rights Department of the Dubai police headquarters, if the detainee believes he or she is not being treated fairly.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living or traveling in the United Arab Emirates are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the United Arab Emirates. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located at Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2200, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 414-2241. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The after-hours telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2500. The Embassy Internet website is http://uae.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000 (for after-hours emergencies, contact the Embassy at (971)(2) 414-2200 for the Dubai Duty Officer, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 311-6213.

The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is dubaiwarden @state.gov. The website for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is http://dubai.usconsulate.gov. The work week for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai is Sunday through Thursday.

International Adoption : February 2007

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel. The American Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been informed by the Sharia Court that Sharia law does not permit adoption in the United Arab Emirates. The Sharia Court may grant a guardianship, but such a guardianship is insufficient for the filing of an I-130 petition for U.S. immigration purposes, according to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Specific questions regarding adoption issues may be addressed to:

U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi
11th St. (also known as Al-Sudan St.)
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (2) 436-691
Fax: (971) (2) 435-786
After-hours telephone: (971) (2) 434-457
Internet: http://www.usembabu.gov.ae

U.S. Consulate General in Dubai
21st floor of the Dubai
World Trade Center
P.O. Box 9343
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971) (4) 313-115
Fax: (971) (4) 316-935

Embassy of the
United Arab Emirates
1255 22nd Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: (202) 955-7999

For further information on international inter-country adoption, contact the Office of Children’s Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children’s Issues, 2401 E Street, N.W., Room L127, Washington, D.C. 20037; Phone: (202) 736-7000; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the UAE and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction.

American citizens who travel to the UAE are subject to the jurisdiction of UAE courts, as well as to the country’s laws and regulations. American citizens planning a trip to the UAE with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: When child custody disputes arise between parents, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Shari’a) law. Non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or nonUAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE. Non-residents of the UAE may also file custody cases in the UAE, but may need to authorize a UAE resident and/or a lawyer practicing in the UAE to act on their behalf for the duration of the case. Non-Muslims are also permitted to file cases in the UAE family courts, under Shari’a law.

In determining issues of custody, UAE courts may take into consideration the parents’ religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother’s subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim.

As a basic starting point under Shari’a law, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody may be transferred to the father.

If a child has attained an “age of discretion,” that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. A UAE lawyer should be contacted to discuss the definition of “age of discretion.”

If the court finds the mother “incompetent,” custody of a child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child’s grandmother on the father’s side. A finding of incompetence is left fully to the discretion of the Shari’a judge.

Shari’a courts consistently find parents incompetent if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Further, a mother may lose her rights of custody should she remarry. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children may be given to the child’s paternal grandparents.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a UAE court may wish to retain an attorney in the UAE. The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai maintain a list of attorneys practicing in the area.

A copy of this list may be obtained by contacting any of these offices, but the Embassy and the Consulate cannot recommend any specific attorney, and make no claim as to the ability or the integrity of the attorneys on the list.

The Embassy and the Consulate cannot pay for any legal expenses incurred. Specific questions regarding child custody in the UAE should be addressed to an attorney practicing in the UAE or to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates at:

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates:
3522 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 243-2400
Fax: (202) 243-2432

Enforcement of Foreign Judgements: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in the UAE. UAE courts will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in the UAE to pay child support.

An American parent with a U.S. court order granting him or her custody can present that order to the court, and the court may take it into consideration, but it will not be binding in a custody proceeding in the UAE.

Visitation Rights: Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities. In some cases the custodial parent and family have been very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the non-custodial parent to visit and maintain contact with the child, but in other cases the custodial parent and family have not been so accommodating.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under UAE law. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where the child was born. In certain circumstances, UAE mothers can also transmit citizenship. UAE citizens must enter and exit the country on UAE passports.

Travel Restrictions: Exit visas are not required to leave the UAE. However, all persons exiting the country must exit on the passport that shows proof of the person’s legal status in the UAE, meaning either their residence or entry visa. A parent can obtain a court order that places a travel ban on a child, and this ban will be enforced at all the airports in the country.

If a parent attempts to leave with a child who has been placed under a travel ban, this could potentially lead to new legal issues concerning the custody of the child.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Information is also available on the Internet at the website of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State at (202) 736-9090 or visit its website on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Type of Government

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates—Islamic states ruled by an emir—each having once been a sheikdom under British protection. The hereditary rulers of the individual emirates comprise the Federal Supreme Council (FSC), which oversees the budget and enacts policies. The UAE federal government has specified authority and responsibility, particularly for foreign affairs, with other powers reserved to its member states.

Background

In December 1971, upon gaining independence from Britain, six Arab states—Abu Dhabi, ʿAjmān, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shāriqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn—merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The union was joined two months later by Raʾs al Khaymah. Each emirate is named after its principal city. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and is its largest and wealthiest city, followed by Dubayy, which is transforming itself into a cosmopolitan city for business, high-end tourism, and luxury living. At about 52,000 square miles—most of it vast, rolling sand dunes—the UAE is slightly smaller than Maine.

The UAE is located on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf and the western coast of the Gulf of Oman; its land borders are with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The UAE’s strategic location, along the southern coast of the Strait of Hormuz, makes it a vital transit point for world crude oil.

Although the lands currently occupied by the UAE and neighboring Oman have been settled since 3000 BC, its more recent history can be traced to the Middle Ages, when the area was part of the Persian Kingdom of Hormuz, which controlled the approaches to the Persian Gulf. By the sixteenth century the coastal region was a main trade route between Asia and Europe. Portugal was an occupying power for much of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, followed for a time by the Netherlands and then, during the nineteenth century, Britain. However, piracy was so rampant that the region came to be called the “Pirate Coast.” Rivalries also raged between the Qawasim sheiks, who ruled the Raʾs al Khaymah region (frequently challenging the British at sea) and the al-Nahyan, founders of Abu Dhabi and Dubayy. In 1820 the largest sheikdoms signed agreements whereby the sheiks would not challenge British interests in the region and the British would provide the sheikdoms with external protection and internal autonomy over their own lands and people. While under British rule in the nineteenth century these emirates were called the Trucial States. Over time the various sheikdoms, which included the seven UAE emirates as well as Bahrain and Qatar, came to be called the Federation of Arab Emirates. In 1968 Britain announced it would be removing its military forces from the area. When the British left in 1971, Bahrain and Qatar declared their independence. The remaining emirates came to organize themselves as the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE’s first president was Abu Dhabi’s leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan (1918–2004). He ruled until his death in 2004, when his son Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan (1948–) was chosen by the rulers of the seven emirates to take his place.

Government Structure

The UAE is a federation composed of seven autonomous city-states, each with a hereditary ruler. Those seven rulers, called the Federal Supreme Council (FSC), are responsible for creating and supervising UAE policies, laws and the federation’s budget. The seven members of the FSC elect from among themselves a president and a vice president, each of whom serves for five years. Since 2004, the UAE’s president, its chief of state, has been Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayid al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi. The vice president and prime minister is Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum (1949–) of Dubayy.

Upon the formation of the UAE in 1971, an interim constitution was created. That constitution was reaffirmed every five years, over the next twenty-five years, until it was made permanent in 1996. Under the constitution, the seven rulers of the FSC also appoint a Council of Ministers, which has budgetary and legislative responsibilities. That council shares its work with the forty members of the Federal National Council (twenty members appointed by the FSC and twenty elected to two-year terms) as well as with the citizen-run National Consultative Council. However, the FNC and NCC do not possess authority to enact laws.

Although there are elective seats on the Federal National Council, in 2006 the UAE’s electorate amounted to just 6,689 Emiratis (including 1,189 women) who are appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates. (That is roughly 1 percent of the UAE’s Emirati citizenry.) In that year’s elections, 456 candidates including 65 women ran for 20 contested FNC seats; one woman from Abu Dhabi won a seat.

Although the UAE is a federated nation, each emirate retains significant autonomy. The rulers of each emirate hold power based on their family history and, in keeping with tribal traditions, citizens in each emirate can communicate directly with their rulers. The evolution of the local governments in each emirate from a traditional to modern structure varies depending upon its local ruler. Under the constitution, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (oil) and revenues. Such local authority means that laws and practices can differ greatly between regions of the UAE.

A federal court system introduced in 1971 applies to all emirates except Dubayy and Raʾs al Khaymah. The Federal Supreme Court is made up of a president and up to five judges, each appointed by the UAE’s president with approval of the Federal Supreme Council. The judiciary is considered to be independent of the executive and legislative branches. All emirates have secular courts to adjudicate criminal charges, civil, and commercial disputes and Islamic courts to review family and religious matters. There are no jury trials.

Political Parties and Factions

As the leaders of the country are the hereditary rulers of each emirate, the United Arab Emirates has no national elections or official political parties or organizations.

The people of the United Arab Emirates are called Emirati(s) and the official language is Arabic, with English often being used as a second language. Islam is the state religion, with the population of Sunni Muslims (96 percent of the population) vastly exceeding that of Shia Muslims and other religions. Unlike in many other Muslim countries, where alcohol is prohibited, all but one of the emirates (Ash Sharjah) does allow alcohol consumption by non-Muslims. Although the UAE is very modern and in many aspects westernized, the emirates are religiously conservative about public behavior, especially between the sexes, and most locals still dress in traditional clothing.

In 2007 the population of the UAE was believed to be about 4,400,000, with less than a quarter of the population being native Emiratis, and as such UAE citizens. Due to an influx of labor for the country’s many construction projects and the domestic needs of its many wealthy households, the vast majority of the UAE population consists of less wealthy Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Afghanis, Filipinos, and Eastern Europeans.

Major Events

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE in the late 1930s, and its commercialization after World War II, the UAE has been transformed from an impoverished region of small desert principalities into a modern nation with an extremely high standard of living. Prior to being an oil exporter, the UAE’s economy was dependent on pearling, fishing, farming, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in the 1970s, the petroleum industry has dominated the economy. The UAE has huge proven oil reserves and is estimated to be the sixth-largest oil exporter in the world.

Twenty-First Century

After the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government froze the bank assets of nations and individuals believed to have assisted in the attacks or of funding terrorist activities. As a banking hub for the Middle East, many UAE financial institutions fell under international scrutiny. However, when the United States launched its assault against Iraq in 2003, the UAE permitted the U.S. military to station troops and operations within the emirates.

Even though the UAE has huge amounts of oil, the nation is diversifying its economy so as not to be entirely dependent on petrodollars. The UAE aspires to create a sophisticated service economy and become a leader in Islamic and international finance. Abu Dhabi and Dubayy are growing cities, each busy with construction projects of architecturally distinctive hotels, high rise towers, and luxury waterfront communities geared toward wealthy residents and tourists. Abu Dhabi is working to transform itself into a destination for arts and culture in the Middle East, and its government has secured the rights to open branches of Paris’s Louvre Museum and New York’s Guggenheim Museum as part of a development project called the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island (“Island of Happiness”).

While many of the UAE’s regional neighbors suffer from war, religious conflict, and extreme poverty, Emiratis shop in high-end, air-conditioned, western-style malls with designer boutiques. They can also ski at an indoor ski lodge (complete with manufactured snow) and cool off in a massive water amusement park. The UAE has been compared to Las Vegas, without the gambling.

In 2006 legislation was approved by the UAE’s Cabinet to address the problem of human trafficking. In part due to its expansive growth, the United Arab Emirates is a destination country for adults and children trafficked from Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and poorer Middle Eastern nations for involuntary servitude and sexual exploitation. Many other underprivileged people who come for what they believe are legitimate jobs have been imprisoned by their employers or have had their passports confiscated. In a related measure, the practice of using children as camel jockeys was outlawed in 2005.

In its 2006–07 sessions, the National Consultative Council passed advisory recommendations relating to religious leadership, environmental protection, health and safety standards, and infrastructure improvements. The Cabinet ministers remained focused on six areas outlined in a government strategy developed in December 2005 that established goals and initiatives in such areas as social development, economic development, government sector development, justice and safety, infrastructure, and rural development.

Davidson, Christopher M. The United Arab Emirates: A Study in Survival . Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005.

Rugh, Andrea B. The Political Culture of Leadership in the United Arab Emirates . Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

UAE Ministry of Information and Culture. United Arab Emirates Yearbook 2007 . http:www.uaeinteract.com (accessed August 15, 2007).

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

  • Area: 32,000 sq mi (82,880 sq km) / World Rank: 116
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, in the Middle East, bordered on the east by Oman and the Gulf of Oman, on the north by the Persian Gulf, and on the west and south by Saudi Arabia.
  • Coordinates: 24°00′N, 54°00′E
  • Borders: 539 mi (867 km) / Oman, 255 mi (410 km); Saudi Arabia, 284 mi (457 km)
  • Coastline: 819 mi (1,318 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Mount Yibir, 5,010 ft (1,527 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 338 mi (544 km) NE-SW / 224 mi (361km) SE-NW
  • Longest River: There are no perennial rivers
  • Natural Hazards: Sand and dust storms
  • Population: 2,407,460 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 137
  • Capital City: Abu Dhabi, on the Persian Gulf coast
  • Largest City: Abu Dhabi, population 928,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Seven emirates (states) make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE): Abu Dhabi, Dubayy, Ash Shariqah, Ra's al Khaymah, Al Fujayrah, Umm al Qaywayn, and 'Ajman. The location and status of the UAE's boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final. The UAE's boundary with Oman has not been bilaterally defined; the northern section in the Musandam Peninsula is an administrative boundary.

The UAE consists mainly of sandy inhospitable desert. On the west an enormous sebkha, or salt flat, extending southward for almost 70 mi (112 km) delimits it. The Trucial Coast in the east is made up of mud flats, sand spits, shallow seas, and lagoons. The eastern boundary runs northward over gravel plains and high dunes until it almost reaches the Hajar Mountains. The UAE is located on the Arabian Tectonic Plate.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains

The UAE's eastern region comprises barren, rugged mountains, part of neighboring Oman's Hajar Range. The highest peak in the country, Mount Yibir with a height of 5,010 ft (1,527 m), is located in this region. Behind Ra's al Khaymah and separating Al Fujayrah from the Persian Gulf the northern ridges of Hajar rise rapidly to 3,000 ft (900m), then go down to a narrow coastal plain along the Gulf of Oman.

Plateaus

The main gravel plain extends inland and southward from the coast of Ra's al Khaymah to Al-'Ayn and beyond.

INLAND WATERWAYS

There are no perennial lakes or rivers in the UAE, as not enough water falls to support them. However, there are small areas of wetlands. The Oases of al-Liwa' run in an arc along the dunes in the south at the edge of the vast Rub'al-Kali, the Empty Quarter. The flora of coastal marshes, swamps, and mangroves stands are salt-loving vegetation.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

The UAE is at a strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is a vital transit point for world crude oil. The UAE is well provided with port facilities. Dubayy's Port Rashid is one of the largest artificial harbors in the Middle East.

Major Islands

There are many islands, most of which are owned by Abu Dhabi. These include Das, the site of oil operations, and Abs Mssá in the Persian Gulf exploited for oil and red oxide. Abs Mssá is jointly claimed and administered by Iran and the UAE. Iran occupies two other islands in the Persian Gulf that are also claimed by the UAE, Lesser Tunb (Ţunb aş Şughrá) and Greater Tunb (Ţunb al Kubrá). The UAE has garnered significant diplomatic support in the region protesting these Iranian actions.

The Coast and Beaches

The flat coastal strip that makes up most of the UAE has an extensive area of sebkha subject to flooding. The alluvial flats on the Gulf of Oman south of Sharjah are a continuous, well-watered fertile littoral strip, known as the Batinah Coast. The Batinah runs between the mountains and the sea and continues into Oman.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

The climate is arid and subtropical. The months between May and October are extremely hot, with shade temperatures of between 100° and 120°F (39° and 49°C). Humidity on the coast can exceed 85 percent. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 36°F (2°C) but average between 63° and 68°F (17° and 20°C). It is cooler in the eastern mountains.

Rainfall

Normal annual rainfall is from 2 to 4 in (5 to 10 cm), with considerably more in the mountains. Annual average rainfall in the mountain region is 5 to 8 in (14 to 20 cm) and along the east cost 4 to 5 in (10 to 14 cm). The wettest months are February and March. Prevailing winds, including the cool Shamal from the northeast and

Population Centers – United Arab Emirates
(1995 CENSUS OF POPULATION)
Name Population
Dubayy (Dubai) 669,181
Abu Dhabi (capital) 398,695
Sharjah 320,095
al-Ain 225,970
Ajman 114,395
SOURCE : Ministry of Planning, UAE.
Emirates – United Arab Emirates
2000 POPULATION ESTIMATES
Name Area (sq mi) Area (sq km) Population Capital
Abu Dhabi 26,000 67,350 1,186,000 Abu Dhabi
Ajman 100 250 174,000 Ajman
Dubai 1,500 3,900 913,000 Dubayy (Dubai)
Fujairah 450 1,150 98,000 Fujairah
Ras al-Khaimah 650 1,700 171,000 Ras al-Khaimah
Sharjah 1,000 2,600 520,000 Sharjah
Umm al-Quwain 300 750 46,000 Umm al-Quwain
SOURCE: Ministry of Planning, United Arab Emirates.

the Khamsin from the south, produce sandstorms. Influenced by monsoons, they vary by season and location.

Deserts

More than two thirds of the total area of the UAE is sandy desert land, running from the westernmost tip of Abu Dhabi east to the land border with Oman and the Gulf of Oman. The desert foreland extends from Ra's al Khaymah and Al-Ayn towards the west to the coast. The Westerly Desert is located in the northern edge of the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia and extends towards the borders of Abu Dhabi.

HUMAN POPULATION

In 2000 it was estimated that 86 percent of the population lived in urban areas, concentrating in each emirate's capital. About 80 percent of the UAE's population originate from outside its borders. This population is very unevenly distributed. Of the emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubayy, and Ash Shariqah are by far the most populous, with about 84 percent of the entire population—the city of Abu Dhabi alone has about 40 percent of the population. Settlements are concentrated in the coastal region, with a few also scattered on the Saudi Arabian border. The interior is largely uninhabited.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Petroleum and natural gas are the United Arab Emirates natural resources. Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. At present levels of production, oil and gas reserves should last more than 100 years. These fuel resources have brought the country wealth; the UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income: $22,800 (2000 est.). However, the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of oil and gas.

FURTHER READINGS

Crocetti, Gina L. Culture Shock! United Arab Emirates. Portland, Oreg.: Graphic Arts Center Pub. Co., 1996.

Etisalat. UAE Pages.http://www.uae.org.ae/general/contents.htm (accessed May 11, 2002).

Johnson, Julia. United Arab Emirates. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

Kay, Shirley. Seafarers of the Gulf. Dubai: Motivate Pub., 1992.

Ministry of Information and Culture. UAE Interact.http://www.uaeinteract.com/default.asp (accessed May 9, 2002).

Trident Press Ltd. Arabian Wildlife. http://www.arabianwildlife.com/main.htm (accessed May 9,2002).

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

At a Glance

Official Name: United Arab Emirates

Continent: Asia

Area: 31,969 square miles (82,880 sq. km)

Population: 2,407,460

Capital City: Abu Dhabi

Largest City: Abu Dhabi (928,360)

Unit of Money: Emirian dirham

Major Languages: Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu

Literacy: 80%

Land Use: 2% permanent pastures, 98% other

Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas

Government: Federation

Defense: 1.9 billion

The Place

United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a group of 7 independent states in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Its 7 states are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al Quaiwain and Fujairah. The Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia Gulf, Oman, and the Gulf of Oman border the UAE.

The UAE covers 31,969 square miles (82,880 square kilometers), most of which are desert. The highest point is the Al Hajar al Gharbi, which stands 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level.

There are no rivers or lakes in the UAE. Wells and recycled wastewater are used for irrigation. Ocean water is desalinized for drinking and industrial purposes.

The weather is sometimes extreme during the summer months, when interior temperatures can reach 120° F (49° C). Annual rainfall varies from 1.7 inches (43 mm) in Abu Dhabi to 5.1 inches (130 mm) in Ra's al Khaymah. Sandstorms occur frequently in UAE.

The UAE is a major exporter of crude oil and natural gas. Mina Jabal Ali, located in Dubai, is the world's largest human-made port.

The People

The UAE has a population of more than 2 million people. The native people of the UAE are Arabic; approximately two-thirds of its non-native population are Asians and Iranians.

Arabic is the UAE's official language, however English, Hindi, Urdu, and Persian are also spoken there.

Islam is the official religion of the country.

Most of the people of the United Arab Emirates live in cities along both coasts, although Al-'Ayn has become increasingly popular.

Less than one-fifth of the people living in the emirates are citizens. The rest are mostly primarily foreign workers and their families. South Asians, mainly Indians and Pakistanis, make up almost half of the population.

Because of the country's oil wealth, citizens of the UAE have extensive health, education, and social services.

The birth rate in the United Arab Emirates is the lowest of all Persian Gulf states. Life expectancy in the UAE is 75 years.

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
United Arab Emirates


PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL
DEFENSE
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-UAE RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.

Cities: (2002 est.) Capital—Abu Dhabi (pop. 1,000,000); Dubai (pop. 860,000).

Terrain: Largely desert with some agricultural areas.

Climate: Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—UAE, Emirati.

Population: (2002 est.) 3.8 million.

Annual growth rate: 1.6%.

Ethnic groups: Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, Filipino (27% of residents are UAE citizens).

Religions: Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.

Languages: Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy (UAE citizens)—about 80%.

Health: Life expectancy—About 74 yrs.

Work force: (2000) 1.4 million (75% foreign in 15-64 age group) Agriculture—8%; industry—32%; services—60%.

Government

Type: Federation of emirates.

Independence: December 2, 1971. Provisional constitution: December 2, 1971.


Branches: Executive—7-member Supreme Council of Rulers, which elects president and vice president. Legislative—40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial—Islamic and secular courts.

Administrative subdivisions: Seven largely self-governing city-states.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: None.

Central government budget: (2002) $6.3 billion.


Economy

GDP: (2002)$71 billion.

Annual growth rate: 1.8%.

Per capita GDP: (2002)$18,600.

Inflation rate: (2002 est.) 2.9%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Agriculture: (3% of 2001 GDP) Products—vegetables, dates, dairy products, poultry, fish.

Petroleum: 27.7% of 2002 GDP.

Other industry: 66% of 2002 GDP.

Services: (51% of 2000 GDP) Trade, government, real estate.

Trade: (2002 est.) Exports—$46 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets—Japan, India, Singapore. Imports—$34 billion: machinery, consumer goods, food. Major suppliers—western Europe, Japan, U.S. (8%).

Foreign economic aid: (1973 through 1989) In excess of $15 billion.



PEOPLE

Only 27% of the total population of 3.8 million are UAE citizens. The rest include significant numbers of other Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Filipinos, and west Europeans.


The majority of UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims with a small Shi'a minority. Most foreigners also are Muslim, although Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the UAE's foreign population.


Educational standards among UAE citizens population are rising rapidly. Citizens and temporary residents have taken advantage of facilities throughout the country. The UAE University in Al Ain had roughly 16,000 students in 2000. A network of technical-vocational colleges opened in 1989.



HISTORY

The UAE was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula shaikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the 7th century; for centuries it was embroiled in dynastic disputes. It became known as the Pirate Coast as raiders based there harassed foreign shipping, although both European and Arab navies patrolled the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. Early British expeditions to protect the India trade from raiders at Rasal-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast in 1819. The next year, a general peace treaty was signed to which all the principal shaikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the shaikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the shaikhs (the "Trucial Shaikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce." It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among shaikhs were referred to the British for settlement.

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Shaikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the U.K. with other Gulf principalities. The shaikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help out in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE Government and is not recognized by the Saudi Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.


In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Shaikhdoms which had been, tog ether with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were unable to agree on terms of union, even though the termination date of the British treaty relationship was the end of 1971. Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Shaikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of them entered into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The seventh, Rasal-Khaimah, joined in early 1972.



GOVERNMENT

Administratively, the UAE is a loose federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. The pace at which local government in each emirate evolves from traditional to modern is set primarily by the ruler. Under the provisional constitution of 1971, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (notably oil) and revenues. In this milieu, federal powers have developed slowly. The constitution established the positions of president (chief of state) and vice president, each serving 5-year terms; a Council of Ministers (cabinet), led by a prime minister (head of government); a supreme council of rulers; and a 40-member National Assembly, a consultative body whose members are appointed by the emirate rulers. President Shaikh Zayyed bin Sultan Al Nahyyan has been president of the UAE since it was founded.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 8/1/01


President: Nuhayyan, ZAYID, bin Sultan Al

Vice President: Maktum, MAKTUM, bin Rashid al-

Prime Minister: Maktum, MAKTUM, bin Rashid al-

Dep. Prime Min.: Nuhayyan, SULTAN, bin Zayid Al

Min. of Agriculture & Fisheries: Raqabani, Said Muhammad al-

Min. of Communications: Tayir, Ahmad bin Humayd al-

Min. of Defense: Maktum, MUHAMMAD, bin Rashid al-

Min. of Economy & Commerce: Qasimi, FAHIM, bin Sultan al-

Min. of Education & Youth: Sharhan, Ali Abd al-Aziz al-, Dr.

Min. of Electricity & Water: Uways, Humayd bin Nasir al-

Min. of Finance & Industry: Maktum, HAMDAN, bin Rashid al-

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Nuaymi, RASHID, bin Abdallah al-

Min. of Health: Madfa, Hamad bin Abd al-Rahman al-

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Nuhayyan, NUHAYYAN, bin Mubarak Al

Min. of Information & Culture: Nuhayyan, ABDALLAH, bin Zayid Al

Min. of Interior: Badi, Muhammad Said al-, Lt. Gen.

Min. of Justice & Islamic Affairs & Awqaf: Dhahiri, Muhammad Nakhira al-

Min. of Labor & Social Affairs: Tayir, Matar bin Humayd al-

Min. of Petroleum & Mineral Resources: Nasiri, Ubayd Saif al-

Min. of Planning: Mualla, Humayd bin Ahmad al-

Min. of Public Works & Housing: Raqad, Raqad bin Salim al-

Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs: Ghayth, Said Khalfan al-

Min. of State for Financial & Industrial Affairs: Kharbash, Muhammad Khalfan bin, Dr.

Min. of State for Foreign Affairs: Nuhayyan, HAMDAN, bin Zayid Al

Min. of State for Supreme Council Affairs: Nuaymi, MAJID, bin Said al-

Governor, Central Bank: Suwaydi, Sultan bin Nasir al-

Ambassador to the US: Dhahiri, Asri Said Ahmad al-

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Shamsi, Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir al-



The UAE maintains an embassy in the United States at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC, 20008 (tel.202-243-2400). The UAE Mission to the UN is located at 747 3rd Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-371-0480).



POLITICAL

The relative political and financial influence of each emirate is reflected in the allocation of positions in the federal government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose emirate is the UAE's major oil producer, is president of the UAE. The ruler of Dubai, which is the UAE's commercial center and a significant oil producer, is vice president and prime minister.


Since achieving independence in 1971, the UAE has worked to strengthen its federal institutions. Nonetheless, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy, and progress toward greater federal integration has slowed in recent years. A basic concept in the UAE Government's development as a federal system is that a significant percentage of each emirate's revenues should be devoted to the UAE central budget.


The UAE has no political parties. There is talk of steps toward democratic government, but nothing concrete has emerged. The rulers hold power on the basis of their dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus. Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society but have not fundamentally altered this traditional political system.



DEFENSE

The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast and commanded by British officers, were turned over to the UAE as its defense forces in 1971. The UAE armed forces, consisting of 65,000 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.


The UAE military relies heavily on troop force from other Arab countries and Pakistan. The officer corps, however, is composed almost exclusively of UAE nationals.


The UAE air force has about 3,500 personnel. The air force agreed in 1999 to purchase 80 advanced U.S. F-16 multirole fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 3s and 5s and Mirage 2000s, British Hawk aircraft, and French helicopters. The air defense has a Hawk missile program for which the United States is providing training. The UAE has taken delivery of two of five Triad I-Hawk batteries. The UAE navy is small—about 1,500 personnel—and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile crafts.


The UAE sent forces to liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf War. In addition, it continues to contribute to the continued security and stability of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in the campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas. The UAE military provides humanitarian assistance to Iraq.



ECONOMY

Prior to the first exports of oil in 1962, the UAE economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in 1973, however, petroleum has dominated the economy, accounting for most of its export earnings and providing significant opportunities for investment. The UAE has huge proven oil reserves, estimated at 98.2 billion barrels in 1998, with gas reserves estimated at 5.8 billion cubic meters; at present production rates, these supplies would last well over 150 years.


In 2003, the UAE produced about 2.3 million barrels of oil per day—of which Abu Dhabi produced approximately 85%—with Dubai, and Sharjah to a much lesser extent, producing the rest.


Major increases in imports occurred in manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, which together accounted for 70% of total imports. Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi investment authority—which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest emirate—manages an estimated $150 billion in overseas investments.


More than 200 factories operate at the Jebel Ali complex in Dubai, which includes a deep-water port and a free trade zone for manufacturing and distribution in which all goods for reexport or transshipment enjoy a 100% duty exemption. A major power plant with associated water desalination units, an aluminum smelter, and a steel fabrication unit are prominent facilities in the complex.


Except in the free trade zone, the UAE requires at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses operating in the country as part of its attempt to place Emiratis into leadership positions.


As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE participates in the wide range of GCC activities that focus on economic issues. These include regular consultations and development of common policies covering trade, investment, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, and other technical areas, including protection of intellectual property rights.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

The UAE joined the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and most western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.


Substantial development assistance has increased the UAE's stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.


Following Iraq's 1990 invasion and attempted annexation of Kuwait, the UAE has sought to rely on the GCC, the United States, and other Western allies for its security. The UAE believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.


The UAE is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.




U.S.–UAE RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed friendly relations with the UAE since 1971. Private commercial ties, especially in petroleum, have developed into friendly government-to-government ties which include security assistance. The breadth, depth, and quality of U.S.-UAE relations increased dramatically as a result of the U.S.-led coalition's campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The relationship has strengthened since UAE's The United States was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador resident in the UAE since 1974.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Abu Dhabi (E), * Al-Sudan St. • P.O. Box 4009, Pouch: Dept. of State, 6010 Abu Dhabi Pl., Wash., D.C. 20521-6010, Tel [971] (2) 443-6691 or 443-6692, after-hours Tel 443-4457, Fax 443-4771; ADM Fax 443-5441; CON Fax 443-5786; PAO Fax 443-4802; USLO Fax 443-4604; COM:Blue Tower Bldg., 8th Fl., Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed St., Tel 627-3666, Fax 627-1377. Workweek: Sat–Wed. E-mail: [email protected]


*Note:Neither post has access to APO/FPO.

AMB: Marcelle M. Wahba
AMB OMS: Karen A. Heinrich
DCM: Richard A. Albright
POL: Joel F. Maybury
ECO: Oliver John
COM: Nancy Charles-Parker
CON: Mark Marrano
MGT: C. Alison Barkley
RSO: John F. Rooney
PAO: Hilary Olsin-Windecker
ATO: Michael Henney
IMO: Michael L. McDonald
DAO: COL Brian Kerins
USLO: COL Robert Simm
IRS: Larry LeGrand (res. Rome)
FAA: Lynn Osmus (res. Brussels)
LEGATT: Wilfred Rattigan (res. Riyadh)
DEA: Robert Clark (res. Islamabad)

Dubai (CG), * Dubai World Trade Center, 21st Fl. • P.O. Box 9343, Pouch: Dept. of State, 6020 Dubai Pl., Wash., D.C., 20521-6020, Tel [971] (4) 311-6000, Fax 311-6166; COM Tel 311-6000, Fax 311-6140; PAO Tel 311-6000, Fax 311-6165; ATO Tel 311-6000, Fax 311-6189; NRCC Tel 3311-888, Fax 3315-764 Workweek: Sat–Wed. E-mail: [email protected]

CG: Jason Davis
MGT: Johanna Schoeppl
RSO: Frank Theus
COM: John Lancia
CON: Donna R. Visocan
ATO: Michael Henney
POL/MIL: Bernard Hudson
NCIS: Mark Prugh
NRCC: LCDR David H. Kao


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003




TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet
November 25, 2003


Country Description: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.


Entry and Exit Requirements: A passport is required. For a stay of less than 60 days, U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitors visas at the port of entry for no fee. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 3522 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400.


U.S. citizens, and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams (equivalent to 5.45 U.S. dollars) and is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of the relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Dual Nationality: The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have in the past confiscated the U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. Dual nationals may be subject to UAE laws that impose special obligations. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov and click on "Search the Home Page," then search for "dual nationality."


Safety and Security: Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.


Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use tollfree numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime: Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended.


The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.g po.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, please consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http: //www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the UAE is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Good

Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance:

Excellent Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good

Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good


Mobile phones are widely used throughout the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate. However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.


Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines, and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other car is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of 41,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized, and temporary UAE licenses are no longer issued. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver's license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should any one drive without a valid license.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.


Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed UAE's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: UAE customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from UAE of items such as firearms, fireworks, pornographic materials, medications, religious materials and communication equipment. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of UAE in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.


UAE customs authorities impose additional requirements for the importation of pets into the country. Permission in the form of a permit from the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries must be secured before the pet's travel. To obtain the permit, submit four documents to UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at the following address: P.O. Box 213, Abu Dhabi, UAE, telephone number 971-2-66-62-781 or 971-2-50-55-707/Airport Branch: 1) the pet's travel itinerary; 2) copies of veterinary health certificates, showing that the animal is free of disease and indicating all shots which have been given to the pet; 3) the sex and color of the pet; and 4) a completed import permit application form (available from the ministry).


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the UAE laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. The penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal substances are strict in the UAE, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. A number of drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States are classified as narcotics in the UAE. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country.

In addition, the UAE's tough anti-narcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.


If suspected of being under the influence of drugs, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests. UAE authorities have been known to arrest travelers upon their arrival into the UAE and, based on recent prior drug use, to prosecute these travelers.


Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment and/or fines. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for fraud crimes.


Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons not staying at the hotel who come in to use the bar technically are required to have their own personal liquor license. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.


While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned.

If arrested, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy of Consulate for assistance. The U.S. Consul will provide information on the local judicial system and a list of local attorneys. In Dubai, the U.S. Consul can also arrange for U.S. citizen detainees to meet with an ombudsman from the Human Rights Department of the Dubai police headquarters, if the detainee believes he or she is not being treated fairly.


Special Circumstances: U.S. citizens may become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that prompt local firms or courts to take possession of the American citizen's passport. Travel bans may also be enforced for U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.


Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country's Islamic traditions and are more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced.


Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention to them. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report significant incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai.


Travelers intending to reside and work in the UAE should have their academic and occupational certificates authenticated by the Department of State's Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. The Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636, or by e-mail at [email protected] UAE labor law requires local sponsors to produce employees' academic and/or professional certificates, duly authenticated by the Foreign Ministry of the individual's country, before a work permit can be issued. Travelers intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will also need to have their marriage certificate and children's birth certificates authenticated by the State Department in Washington, D.C.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use tollfree numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living in or visiting the UAE are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai, where they can obtain updated information on travel and security within the UAE.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located on 11th St., also known as Al-Sudan St., P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 443-6691, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 443-5786. The email address for American Citizen Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The after hours telephone number is (971) (2) 443-4457. The Embassy Internet website is http://usembassy.state.gov/uae/.


The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 331-8594. The website for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai can be accessed through the Embassy website or at www.usembabu.gov.ae/CGDindex.htm. The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday.


International Parental Child Abduction
February 19, 2002


The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, American Citizen Services. For more information, please read the Guarding Against International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov


General Information: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the UAE and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to the UAE are subject to the jurisdiction of UAE courts, as well as to the country's laws and regulations. American citizens planning a trip to the UAE with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: When child custody disputes arise between parents, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Shari'a) law. Non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or non-UAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE. Non-residents of the UAE may also file custody cases in the UAE, but may need to authorize a UAE resident and/or a lawyer practicing in the UAE to act on their behalf for the duration of the case. Non-Muslims are also permitted to file cases in the UAE family courts, under Shari'a law.


In determining issues of custody, UAE courts may take into consideration the parents' religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother's subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim. As a basic starting point under Shari'a law, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody may be transferred to the father.


If a child has attained an "age of discretion," that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. A UAE lawyer should be contacted to discuss the definition of "age of discretion."


If the court finds the mother "incompetent," custody of a child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child's grandmother on the father's side. A finding of incompetence is left fully to the discretion of the Shari'a judge. Shari'a courts consistently find parents incompetent if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Further, a mother may lose her rights of custody should she remarry. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children may be given to the child's paternal grandparents.


Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a UAE court may wish to retain an attorney in the UAE. The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai maintain a list of attorneys practicing in the area. A copy of this list may be obtained by contacting any of these offices, but the Embassy and the Consulate cannot recommend any specific attorney, and make no claim as to the ability or the integrity of the attorneys on the list. The Embassy and the Consulate cannot pay for any legal expenses incurred.


U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Phone: 971 2 443 6691
After hours emergency phone number: 971 2 443 4457
Fax: 971 2 443 5786
Workweek: Saturday through Wednesday


U.S. Consulate General Dubai
P.O. Box 9343
Dubai, UAE
Phone: 971 4 311 6000
After hours emergency phone number: 971 50 645 8773
Fax: 971 4 331 8594
Workweek: Saturday through Wednesday

U.S. Department of State

Office of Overseas Citizen Services
Washington, DC 20520
Phone: (202) 647-5225


Specific questions regarding child custody in the UAE should be addressed to an attorney practicing in the UAE or to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates at:


Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 243-2400
Fax: (202) 243-2432


Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in the UAE. UAE courts will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in the UAE to pay child support. An American parent with a U.S. court order granting him or her custody can present that order to the court, and the court may take it into consideration, but it will not be binding in a custody proceeding in the UAE.


Visitation Rights: Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities. In some cases the custodial parent and family have been very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the non-custodial parent to visit and maintain contact with the child, but in other cases the custodial parent and family have not been so accommodating.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under UAE law. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where the child was born. In certain circumstances, UAE mothers can also transmit citizenship. UAE citizens must enter and exit the country on UAE passports.


Travel Restrictions: Exit visas are not required to leave the UAE. However, all persons exiting the country must exit on the passport that shows proof of the person's legal status in the UAE, meaning either their residence or entry visa.


A parent can obtain a court order that places a travel ban on a child, and this ban will be enforced at all the airports in the country. If a parent attempts to leave with a child who has been placed under a travel ban, this could potentially lead to new legal issues concerning the custody of the child..

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

POPULATION 2,445,989
SUNNI MUSLIM 80 percent
SHIITE MUSLIM 16 percent
OTHER 4 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The United Arab Emirates, founded in 1971, is a federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, al-Fujayrah, Ras al-Khaymah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaywayn) lying along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Oman and the Gulf of Oman to the east, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, Qatar to the northwest, and the Persian Gulf to the north. The capital is Abu Dahbi town.

The population consists of four social and cultural groups: the Shihu and Habus peoples in the mountainous regions of the north, the lowland peoples living on the plains, the polyglot of workers and immigrants living in the major cities, and the tribal peoples connected by lineage to the old Arabian tribes. A major oil producer, the country has a fast growing Arab and non-Arab expatriate population, with indigenous peoples now making up a minority of less than 20 percent.

The vast majority of Muslims in the United Arab Emirates follow the Sunni branch of Islam. Compared with other Persian Gulf states, the country is relatively liberal and open.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Although Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates, the government pursues a policy of tolerance toward other religions. Foreign clergy are allowed to minister to foreign populations, and non-Muslim groups—Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs—are permitted to engage in private charitable activities and to send their children to private schools. These groups are not supported financially by the state, however. Relationships among people of different cultural backgrounds are governed by interpretations of the Koran and the hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) that emphasize the concept of peace (salam).

Major Religion

SUNNI ISLAM

DATE OF ORIGIN Seventh century c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 2.3 million

HISTORY

Islam was introduced to the area during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, between approximately 625 and 630 b.c. Sunni Islam as it is practiced in the United Arab Emirates has been influenced by the Wahhabi movement. This movement was established in Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who drew upon the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah (1268–1328), an early interpreter of the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence. The Wahhabis emphasized God's unqualified oneness (tawhid), and they were known for rejecting all forms of nonorthodox Islam, including the ideologies and practices of the Shiites. A puritanical group, the Wahabbis repudiated innovation and opposed non-Muslim influences, including the increasing European presence in the Persian Gulf. Muslims of the emirates initially looked to the Wahhabis as a military power to be called upon for support, rather than for guidance in religious matters, and the Wahhabi movement came to be allied with the Qawasim tribes of the emirates.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

In the United Arab Emirates religious leaders have traditionally been referred to as mutawa's rather than as sheikhs (shaykh s). The mutawa' is the person who heads the local kuttab, a traditional institute for teaching and memorizing the Koran.

Although religious leaders in the emirates have tended to be local, since the creation of the country in 1971 the president, Shaykh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan, has played a role as a religious leader. He is a descendant of Zayed the Great, who was influential in the formation of the Trucial States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During his presidency Shaykh Zayed has been concerned with preserving the Islamic identity of the state.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

One eminent Muslim scholar from the emirates was Abdul Rahman Bin Muhammad Bin Hafez (1886–1953). His books Tariqat al-muttaqin ("The Path of the Devout") and Khulasat al-fiqh ("The Essence of Jurisprudence") address issues of the Koran and the sunnah (the example of the Prophet Muhammad). Although the prominent twentieth-century scholar Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz al-Mubarak was born in Saudi Arabia, he spent most of his life in the emirates, where he served as the head of the shar'iyyah (religious) courts. He published widely in Islamic law, education, and customs. His books include Al-asas al-Islami li-manahij al-tarbiyya wa'l-ta'lim ("The Islamic Foundations of the Educational Curriculum") and Nizam al-qada' fi'l-Islam ("The Judicial System in Islam").

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

Before the oil boom of the twentieth century, most of the mosques in the emirates were small, simple buildings without minarets. This was the case, for example, with the unique mosque of Bidiyya, near the city of Buraymi in Abu Dhabi, which was built without the use of wood and which was characterized by four flattened domes. Since then large numbers of mosques of various Islamic architectural designs and with richly ornamented minarets have been constructed. The well-known Jumeirah mosque in Dubai, for instance, was built in the medieval Fatimid tradition. The old Great Mosque, al-Jami' al-Qadim, in Abu Dhabi has been replaced by a modern mosque with blue domes.

WHAT IS SACRED?

As with Muslims elsewhere, followers of Islam in the United Arab Emirates hold the Koran to be a sacred text and mosques to be sacred places. Although no animals or plants are held to be sacred, people especially honor the grace (baraka) and rootedness (asalah) of the palm tree and the camel. Koranic verses and hadiths (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) that affirm the goodness of palm trees are frequently cited—for example, "We produce therein orchards with date palms and vines, and we cause springs to gush forth therein" (Koran 17:34). Patience is a value associated with the camel, which, because of its exceptional ability to tolerate intense heat and hunger, can live in the desert. In the United Arab Emirates the camel plays a role on social occasions, such as marriages and weddings, and for the payment of hospitality duties and blood money (diyya). The slaughtering of camels on these occasions denotes the value placed on honor and hospitality.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

There are no Muslim holidays and festivals distinctive to the United Arab Emirates. As in other countries, however, Muslims celebrate such festivals as Id al-Fitr, at the end of the feast of Ramadan, and Id al-Adha, at the conclusion of the pilgrimage to Mecca. The birthday of Muhammad (mawlid) is also observed.

MODE OF DRESS

Dress in the United Arab Emirates is dictated by the stark heat of the sun, traditional Bedouin patterns, and religion. The emphasis for Muslims is modesty. Women wear a traditional full-length garment called a kandurah. In addition, they wear an overgarment (thub) made of black lace and frequently over this a cloak ('abayah). Women also wear a hair veil (wagayah) or face veil (burgo), characterized by a black mask that covers the lower part of the nose and the mouth and that leaves the eyes shaded by the edge of the hair veil.

The traditional dress of men in the United Arab Emirates is a robe (kandurah) whose color varies according to the season. In summer the kandurah is white, while in winter it is gray or brown, and it is usually worn with a matching, often Western-style jacket. Men wear a skullcap (quhfiyya) and a square scarf (ghutrah) on their heads. The attire of dignitaries includes a cloak (bishit).

Clerics and religious functionaries often come from neighboring countries, and their dress reflects their national origins. Local religious personnel wear a black toquelike cap, together with a wide scarf, or rutra.

DIETARY PRACTICES

Muslims in the United Arab Emirates follow Islamic dietary requirements. Alcohol is available, however, and is not banned, as in Saudi Arabia. Following the sunnah, people sit on the floor for meals and eat with their right hands and without utensils. Men and women traditionally eat in separate quarters, with the female head of the household directing youths or young children in serving the males. Women eat with the children.

RITUALS

Muslims in the United Arab Emirates perform those rituals common throughout the Islamic world. These include the salat (prayer) five times a day and, for those who are able, the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. There are, however, no Islamic rituals that are distinctive to the United Arab Emirates.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Within the first week after a women gives birth, her family or husband arranges a ritual called 'aqiqa, in which a small camel or a large sheep is slaughtered and distributed among relatives, neighbors, and friends. Men gather to recite the Koran for the well-being of the mother and the newly born child, and close relatives gather for a meal.

Circumcision for both sexes takes place before the onset of puberty. It is an occasion of great celebration, for with circumcision the child is regarded as having taken the first public step toward a true Islamic identity. Traditional female circumcision is declining and is currently practiced only among local populations. Although once carried out by matriarchs in the community, these minor clitoral operations are now performed primarily in clinics or hospitals.

Marriage is incumbent upon all Muslims. Most marriages continue to be arranged, with a family member, such as an aunt, or occasionally a well-placed woman in the community acting as the negotiator. A marriage contract is drawn up, and a dowry is paid. Wealthy families sometimes sponsor weeks of celebrations. The government, concerned to encourage marriage among the indigenous population, has established a marriage bank (sanduq al-zawaj) that gives financial support to men who marry local women, a practice that has resulted in couples marrying at a younger age. Divorce is permitted according to Islamic law.

At death family members wash the body and wrap it in a white funeral cloth. It is then carried to the local mosque, where prayers are said on the deceased's behalf. The Islamic principle of immediate burial in a grave and without a coffin is observed. Families sponsor the recitation of verses from the Koran for the sake of the deceased.

MEMBERSHIP

While proselytizing by non-Muslim religions is prohibited in the United Arab Emirates, Islamic religious institutes welcome converts and help them become integrated into the Muslim community. In addition to religious programs publicized through the Internet and mass media, religious literature in various languages is offered to new converts.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Although the legal system of the United Arab Emirates draws on several sources, including those of the West, it gives great weight to Islamic law (Shari'ah), which emphasizes human rights and social justice. Despite the capitalist orientation of the United Arab Emirates, the Islamic spirit of social justice has not suffered and has, in fact, benefited from the country's wealth. Through charitable acts (sadaqat) wealthy Muslims help protect the needy. In addition, annual almsgiving (zakat) by Muslims provides financial aid on a large scale, often organized by religious institutes, to those who need it.

Even though Western-style education has grown quickly, Islamic education continues to be emphasized. Islamic institutes and departments of Islamic studies constitute major parts of the educational system. Women have been encouraged to participate in both education and the workforce, and by the1990s half of all university students in the United Arab Emirates were female. Women graduates now work in both the government and the private sector.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Compared with other Westernized countries of the Arab world, Islam in the United Arab Emirates has continued to be observed in a conservative way. This is especially true among the native Sunni population who adhere to the Malikite legal tradition.

Although it has become less common, tribal men continue to practice polygamy, limited to four or fewer wives. This is justified as a means of strengthening 'asabiya, or tribal solidarity, as well as of increasing the population. Because there is a low rate of population growth among the indigenous people, the state uses its affluence to increase the native population. The government encourages marriage among the indigenous population and increases the salary of a native male citizen to whom a child is born.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Despite rapid modernization and the participation of the United Arab Emirates in the global economy, both the ruling class and ordinary citizens have maintained an intimate identification with Islam. For the country's leaders identification with Islam and its codes of conduct has served to confirm the legitimacy of their rule. Among university students adherence to Islamic principles has been central in their response to the forces of modernization and secularization from the West. The growth of Islamic fundamentalism in a nearby country such as Iran, however, has sometimes been seen as a potential threat to the political stability of the emirates.

The government of the United Arab Emirates subsidizes all Sunni mosques and employs all Sunni imams. The political content of the sermons delivered in mosques is monitored by the government.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Birth control and abortion are rejected in the United Arab Emirates. Women are not allowed to hold religious positions, although they are involved in traditional religious teaching. Women also participate in the mutawwi'ah, the morals police that enforce puritanical Wahhabi law in public. Islamic law (Shari'ah) of the Malikite school is implemented in cases of disputes.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Much of the distinctive art of the United Arab Emirates is traditional and not specifically Islamic. Poetry, for example, is much venerated, and there are regular poetry festivals. There are also regional variations in artistic expression. The Shihu and Habus peoples are known for their brightly colored woven saddlebags and distinctive pottery designs, and the Dubai region is known for the wind chimney, which catches air to funnel it downward to cool the home.

Other Religions

Shiite Muslims constitute about 16 percent of the population. The 1979 revolution in Iran, a majority Shiite country, had an impact on Shiites in the United Arab Emirates, as it did in other Persian Gulf states. Although Sunni Islam is the official religion, the Shiite minority is free to congregate and worship in its own mosques, and Shiites conduct meetings and hold distinctive religious activities in ma'tam s, or husayniyya s. The government does not subsidize Shiite mosques or appoint their prayer leaders. As with Sunnis, however, the state monitors activities, including sermons, that take place in Shiite mosques.

Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs constitute about 4 percent of the population. The country's constitution guarantees their human rights and religious freedom. Christians include Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant groups, and there are Christian churches located in the major cities. The Hindu and Sikh communities, which are concentrated in Dubai, have their own temples for worship.

el-Sayed el-Aswad

See Also Vol. 1: Islam, Shiism, Sunnism

Bibliography

Abul Rahman, Abdul Allah. Al-imarat fi dhakirat abna'aha. Sharjah: Itahad kuttab wa Udaba' al-Imarat, 1986.

el-Aswad, el-Sayed. Al-bait ash-sha'bi: Dirasa anthropolojiyya lil 'imaara ash-sh'abiyya wa ath-thqafa at-taqlidiyya li mugtama' alimarat. al-Ain: United Arab Emirates University Press, 1996.

——. "Key Symbols in the Folklore of the Emirates." Translated by Salwa al-Misned and reviewed by the author. al-Ma'thurat al-Sha'biyyah (Doha, Qatar) 16, no. 62: 8–27.

Lienhardt, Peter, and Ahmed al-Shahi. Shaikhdoms of Eastern Arabia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.

Peck, Malcolm C. Historical Dictionary of the Gulf Arab States. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Compiled from the November 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
United Arab Emirates


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 82,880 sq. km. (30,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Maine.

Cities: (2002 est.) Capital—Abu Dhabi (pop. 1,000,000); Dubai (pop. 860,000).

Terrain: Largely desert with some agricultural areas.

Climate: Hot, humid, low annual rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—UAE, Emirati.

Population: (2003 est.) 4.041 million.

Annual growth rate: 6.9%.

Ethnic groups: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iranian, Filipino, Other Arab, (15-20% of residents are UAE citizens).

Religions: Muslim (96%), Hindu, Christian.

Languages: Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy (UAE citizens)—about 80%.

Health: Life expectancy—About 74 yrs.

Work force: (2003) 2.485 million (93% foreign in 15-64 age group) Agriculture—8%; industry—32%; services—60%.

Government

Type: Federation of emirates.

Independence: December 2, 1971.

Provisional constitution: December 2, 1971.

Branches: Executive—7-member Supreme Council of Rulers, which elects president and vice president. Legislative—40-member Federal National Council (consultative only). Judicial—Islamic and secular courts.

Administrative subdivisions: Seven largely self-governing citystates.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: None.

Central government budget: (2004) $6.5 billion.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $80 billion.

Annual growth rate: 7%.

Per capita GDP: (2003) $19,900.

Inflation rate: (2003 est.) 2.8%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Agriculture: (3.7% of GDP) Products—vegetables, dates, dairy products, poultry, fish.

Petroleum: 31.9% of 2003 GDP.

Other industry: 25% of 2002 GDP.

Services: (42.7% of 2003 GDP) Trade, government, real estate.

Trade: (2003 est.) Exports—$60.8 billion: petroleum, gas, and petroleum products. Major markets—Japan, India, Singapore. Imports—$41.7 billion: machinery, consumer goods, food. Major suppliers—western Europe, Japan, U.S. (8%).

Foreign economic aid: (2003) In excess of $5.25 billion.


PEOPLE

Only 15-20% of the total population of 4.041 million are UAE citizens. The rest include significant numbers of other Arabs—Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Omanis—as well as many Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Afghanis, Filipinos, and west Europeans.

The majority of UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims with a small Shi'a minority. Most foreigners also are Muslim, although Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the UAE's foreign population.

Educational standards among UAE citizens population are rising rapidly. Citizens and temporary residents have taken advantage of facilities throughout the country. The UAE University in Al Ain had roughly 16,000 students in 2000. The Higher Colleges of Technology, a network of technical-vocational colleges, opened in 1989 with men's and women's campuses in each emirate. Zayed University for women opened in 1998 with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


HISTORY

The UAE was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula Sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. This area was converted to Islam in the 7th century; for centuries it was embroiled in dynastic disputes. It became known as the Pirate Coast as raiders based there harassed foreign shipping, although both European and Arab navies patrolled the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. Early British expeditions to protect the India trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbors along the coast in 1819. The next year, a general peace treaty was signed to which all the principal sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the "Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce." It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the U.K. with other Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help out in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Saudi Arabia over the Buraimi Oasis and other territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE Government and is not recognized by the Saudi Government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.

In 1968, the U.K. announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhsdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were unable to agree on terms of union, even though the termination date of the British treaty relationship was the end of 1971. Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Sheikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent. On December 2, 1971, six of them entered into a union called the United Arab Emirates. The seventh, Ras al-Khaimah, joined in early 1972.

The UAE sent forces to liberate Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf War.

In 2004, the UAE's first and only president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded him as Ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the Constitution, the UAE's Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as UAE Federal President. Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.


GOVERNMENT

Administratively, the UAE is a loose federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. The pace at which local government in each emirate evolves from traditional to modern is set primarily by the ruler. Under the provisional constitution of 1971, each emirate reserves considerable powers, including control over mineral rights (notably oil) and revenues. In this milieu, federal powers have developed slowly. The constitution established the positions of President (Chief of State) and Vice President, each serving 5-year terms; a Council of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister (head of government); a supreme council of rulers; and a 40-member National Assembly, a consultative body whose members are appointed by the emirate rulers.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/4/05

President: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Vice President: MAKTUM bin Rashid Al Maktum
Prime Minister: MAKTUM bin Rashid Al Maktum
Dep. Prime Min.: SULTAN bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Dep. Prime Min.: HAMDAN bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Agriculture & Fisheries: SAID Muhammad Al Raqabani
Min. of Communications: SULTAN bin Saeed Al Mansouri
Min. of Defense: MUHAMMAD bin Rashid Al Maktum
Min. of Economy & Planning: LUBNA al-Qasimi
Min. of Education: NUHAYYAN bin Mubarak Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Energy: MUHAMMAD bin Dhaen Al Hamili
Min. of Finance & Industry: HAMDAN BIN RASHID bin Said Al Maktum
Min. of Foreign Affairs: RASHID bin Abdallah Al Nuaymi
Min. of Health: HAMAD bin Abd Al Rahman Al Madfa
Min. of Information & Culture: ABDALLAH bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Interior: SAIF bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Justice, Islamic Affairs, & Awqaf: Muhammad Nakhira al-DHAHIRI
Min. of Labor & Social Affairs: ALI bin Abdallah Al Kaabi , Dr.
Min. of Presidential Affairs: MANSOUR bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Public Works: HAMDAN bin Mubarak Al Nuhayyan
Min. of Supreme Council & GCC Affairs: FAHIM bin Sultan Al Qasimi
Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs: SAID Khalfan Al Ghayth
Min. of State for Finance & Industry: Muhammad bin Khalfan al-KHARBASH , Dr.
Min. of State for Foreign Affairs: HAMDAN bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan
Governor, Central Bank: SULTAN bin Nasir al-SUWAYDI
Ambassador to the US: Asri Said Ahmad al-DHAHIRI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir al-SHAMSI

The UAE maintains an embassy in the United States at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC, 20008 (tel. 202-243-2400). The UAE Mission to the UN is located at 747 3rd Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-371-0480).


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The relative political and financial influence of each emirate is reflected in the allocation of positions in the federal government. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose emirate is the UAE's major oil producer, is president of the UAE. The ruler of Dubai, which is the UAE's commercial center and a significant oil producer, is vice president and prime minister.

Since achieving independence in 1971, the UAE has worked to strengthen its federal institutions. Nonetheless, each emirate still retains substantial autonomy, and progress toward greater federal integration has slowed in recent years. A basic concept in the UAE Government's development as a federal system is that a significant percentage of each emirate's revenues should be devoted to the UAE central budget. The UAE has no political parties. There is talk of steps toward democratic government, but nothing concrete has emerged. The rulers hold power on the basis of their dynastic position and their legitimacy in a system of tribal consensus. Rapid modernization, enormous strides in education, and the influx of a large foreign population have changed the face of the society but have not fundamentally altered this traditional political system.


DEFENSE

The Trucial Oman Scouts, long the symbol of public order on the coast and commanded by British officers, were turned over to the UAE as its defense forces in 1971. The UAE armed forces, consisting of 65,500 troops, are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and are primarily responsible for the defense of the seven emirates.

The UAE military relies heavily on troop force from other Arab countries and Pakistan. The officer corps, however, is composed almost exclusively of UAE nationals. The air force is linked into a joint air defense system with the other six national of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) aimed at protecting the airspace of the allied states.

The UAE air force has about 4,000 personnel. The air force is currently awaiting an expected 2005 delivery of 80 advanced U.S. F-16 multirole fighter aircraft. Other equipment includes French Mirage 2000-9s, British Hawk aircraft, 36 transport aircraft and U.S. Apache and French Puma helicopters. The UAE has taken delivery of two of five Triad I-Hawk batteries. The UAE navy is small—about 2,500 personnel—and maintains 12 well-equipped coastal patrol boats and 8 missile crafts. Although primarily concerned with coastal defense, the navy is currently expanding and modernizing its force to include blue water capabilities.

The UAE contributes to the continued security and stability of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. It is a leading partner in the campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas since September 11, 2001. The UAE military currently provides humanitarian assistance to Iraq.


ECONOMY

Prior to the first exports of oil in 1962, the UAE economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding. Since the rise of oil prices in 1973, however, petroleum has dominated the economy, accounting for most of its export earnings and providing significant opportunities for investment. The UAE has huge proven oil reserves, estimated at 98.8 billion barrels in 2003, with gas reserves estimated at (212 trillion cubic feet); at present production rates, these supplies would last well over 150 years.

In 2003, the UAE produced about 2.23 million barrels of oil per day—of which Abu Dhabi produced approximately 94%—with Dubai, and Sharjah to a much lesser extent, producing the rest.

Major increases in imports occurred in manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment, which together accounted for 70% of total imports. Another important foreign exchange earner, the Abu Dhabi investment authority—which controls the investments of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest emirate—manages an estimated $250 billion in overseas investments.

More than 200 factories operate at the Jebel Ali complex in Dubai, which includes a deep-water port and a free trade zone for manufacturing and distribution in which all goods for reexport or transshipment enjoy a 100% duty exemption. A major power plant with associated water desalination units, an aluminum smelter, and a steel fabrication unit are prominent facilities in the complex.

Except in the free trade zone, the UAE requires at least 51% local citizen ownership in all businesses operating in the country as part of its attempt to place Emiratis into leadership positions.

As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE participates in the wide range of GCC activities that focus on economic issues. These include regular consultations and development of common policies covering trade, investment, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, and other technical areas, including protection of intellectual property rights.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

The UAE joined the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and most western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the United Nations, and the GCC.

Substantial development assistance has increased the UAE's stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Following Iraq's 1990 invasion and attempted annexation of Kuwait, the UAE has sought to rely on the GCC, the United States, and other Western allies for its security. The UAE believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

The UAE is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.


U.S.-UAE RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed friendly relations with the UAE since 1971. Private commercial ties, especially in petroleum, have developed into friendly government-to-government ties which include security assistance. The breadth, depth, and quality of U.S.-UAE relations increased dramatically as a result of the U.S.-led coalition's campaign to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. In 2002, the U.S. and the UAE launched a strategic partnership dialogue covering virtually every aspect of the relationship. The UAE has been a key partner in the war on terror after September 11, 2001. The United States was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador resident in the UAE since 1974.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

ABU DHABI (E) Address: P.O. Box 4009; Phone: +971-2-414-2200; Fax: + 971-2-414-2469; Workweek: 0830-1700; Website: usembassy.state.gov/uae

AMB:Michele J. Sison
AMB OMS:Kam Wong
DCM:Richard Albright
DCM OMS:Carol Bourne
CG:Jason Davis
CG OMS:Rebecca Robinson
POL:Joel Maybury
CON:Robert Dolce
MGT:Debra Smoker-Ali
AGR:Mike Henney
ATO:Mike Henney
CLO:Nejla Zary
DAO:Brian Kerins
ECO:Oliver John
FCS:Christian Reed
FMO:David Thomas
GSO:Marika Zadva
IMO:Bruce Chaplin
IPO:Mahmud Khan
ISO:James Rafferty
ISSO:Mahmud Khan
LEGATT:Daniel Roggenbuck
PAO:Hilary Olsin-Windecker
RSO:Thomas Barnard
Last Updated: 9/7/2004

DUBAI (CG) Phone: 971-4-311-6000; Fax: 971-4-311-6166; Workweek: Sat-Wed, 0830-1700; Website: usembabu.gov.ae

PO:Jason Davis
POL:Alan Eyre
COM:Patrick Wall
CON:Cynthia Ebeid
MGT:Johanna Schoeppl
AGR:Mike Henney
CLO:vacant
ECO:Michael Carver
GSO:Jennifer Johnson
PAO:Peter Neisuler
RSO:Frank Theus
Last Updated: 12/30/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 21, 2004

Country Description: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport is required. For a stay of less than 60 days, U.S. citizens holding valid passports may obtain visitors visas at the port of entry for no fee. For a longer stay, a traveler must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 3522 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400. In addition, visit the website of the UAE's Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Unlike other countries in the region that accept U.S. military ID cards as valid travel documents, the UAE requires U.S. military personnel to present a valid passport for entry/exit. In addition, UAE authorities will confiscate any weapons transported to or through a civilian airport.

U.S. citizens, and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.

Safety and Security: Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and other Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa.

Crime: Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the United Arab Emirates is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The police emergency number is 999; the ambulance number is 998. Mobile phones are widely used throughout the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate. However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.

Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines, and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other car is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver's license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.

In addition, visit the website of the UAE's Ministry of Information regarding tourism, business, and residence in the UAE at http://www.uaeinteract.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates' air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf Air flight in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Department of Defense has recommended that military commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for official travel.

Special Circumstances: The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have in the past confiscated U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. In addition to being subject to all UAE laws, U.S. citizens who also hold UAE citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the UAE. For additional information, please refer to our Dual Nationality flyer available on the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. citizens may become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that prompt local firms or courts to take possession of the American citizen's passport. Travel bans may also be enforced for U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country's Islamic traditions and are more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention to them. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report significant incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate General in Dubai.

American citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE should have their academic and occupational certificates authenticated by the Department of State's Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. The Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636, or by e-mail at [email protected] UAE labor law requires local sponsors to produce employees' academic and/or professional certificates, duly authenticated by the Foreign Ministry of the individual's country, before a work permit can be issued. Travelers intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will also need to have their marriage certificate and children's birth certificates authenticated by the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating United Arab Emirates laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the United Arab Emirates are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Some drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States are classified as narcotics in the UAE. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country.

In addition, the UAE's tough antinarcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.

Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment and/or fines. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for fraud crimes.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned.

If arrested, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The U.S. Consul will provide information on the local judicial system and a list of local attorneys. In Dubai, the U.S. Consul can also arrange for U.S. citizen detainees to meet with an ombudsman from the Human Rights Department of the Dubai police headquarters, if the detainee believes he or she is not being treated fairly.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in the United Arab Emirates are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the United Arab Emirates. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located at Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2200, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 414-2241.

The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The after-hours telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2500. The Embassy Internet web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/uae/

The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 331-8594. The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is [email protected] The website for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai can be accessed through the Embassy website. The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

The American Embassy in Abu Dhabi has been informed by the Sharia Court that Sharia law does not permit adoption in the United Arab Emirates. The Sharia Court may grant a guardianship, but such a guardianship is insufficient for the filing of an I-130 petition for U.S. immigration purposes, according to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Specific questions regarding adoption issues may be addressed to: U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi; 11th St. (also known as Al-Sudan St.); P.O. Box 4009; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Telephone: (971) (2) 436-691; Fax: (971) (2) 435-786; After-hours telephone: (971) (2) 434-457; Internet: http://www.usembabu.gov.ae

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2005

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of a specific foreign country is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the UAE and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to the UAE are subject to the jurisdiction of UAE courts, as well as to the country's laws and regulations. American citizens planning a trip to the UAE with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: When child custody disputes arise between parents, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Shari'ah) law. Non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or non-UAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE. Non-residents of the UAE may also file custody cases in the UAE, but may need to authorize a UAE resident and/or a lawyer practicing in the UAE to act on their behalf for the duration of the case. Non-Muslims are also permitted to file cases in the UAE family courts, under Shari'ah law.

In determining issues of custody, UAE courts may take into consideration the parents' religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother's subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim. As a basic starting point under Shari'ah law, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody may be transferred to the father.

If a child has attained an "age of discretion," that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. A UAE lawyer should be contacted to discuss the definition of "age of discretion."

If the court finds the mother "incompetent," custody of a child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child's grandmother on the father's side. A finding of incompetence is left fully to the discretion of the Shari'ah judge. Shari'ah courts consistently find parents incompetent if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Further, a mother may lose her rights of custody should she remarry. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children may be given to the child's paternal grandparents.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a UAE court may wish to retain an attorney in the UAE. The U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai maintain a list of attorneys practicing in the area. A copy of this list may be obtained by contacting any of these offices, but the Embassy and the Consulate cannot recommend any specific attorney, and make no claim as to the ability or the integrity of the attorneys on the list. The Embassy and the Consulate cannot pay for any legal expenses incurred.

U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Phone: 971 2 443 6691
After hours emergency phone number: 971 2 443 4457;
Fax: 971 2 443 5786
Workweek: Saturday through Wednesday

U.S. Consulate General Dubai
P.O. Box 9343
Dubai, UAE
Phone: 971 4 311 6000

After hours emergency phone number: 971 50 645 8773;
Fax: 971 4 331 8594
Workweek: Saturday through Wednesday

U.S. Department of State
Office of Overseas Citizen Services
Washington, DC 20520
Phone: (202) 647-5225

Specific questions regarding child custody in the UAE should be addressed to an attorney practicing in the UAE or to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates at: Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; 3522 International Court, NW; Washington, DC 20008; Phone: (202) 243-2400; Fax: (202) 243-2432.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in the UAE. UAE courts will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in the UAE to pay child support. An American parent with a U.S. court order granting him or her custody can present that order to the court, and the court may take it into consideration, but it will not be binding in a custody proceeding in the UAE.

Visitation Rights: Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities. In some cases the custodial parent and family have been very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the non-custodial parent to visit and maintain contact with the child, but in other cases the custodial parent and family have not been so accommodating.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under UAE law. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where the child was born. In certain circumstances, UAE mothers can also transmit citizenship. UAE citizens must enter and exit the country on UAE passports.

Travel Restrictions: Exit visas are not required to leave the UAE. However, all persons exiting the country must exit on the passport that shows proof of the person's legal status in the UAE, meaning either their residence or entry visa.

A parent can obtain a court order that places a travel ban on a child, and this ban will be enforced at all the airports in the country. If a parent attempts to leave with a child who has been placed under a travel ban, this could potentially lead to new legal issues concerning the custody of the child.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Located in the Arabian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has an area of 82,880 square kilometers (31,877 square miles) and, as of 2004, a population of 2,513,915. Abu Dhabi is its capital. The country is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the Arabian Gulf. The UAE is mainly desert, and its hot and dry climate reflects this terrain. It was formed in 1971 after the merger of six states: Abu Dhabi, Aajman, Al Furayjah, Al Shariqah, Dubai, and Umm el Quiwan. In 1972 Rass el Khaymah joined these member states. From 1971, the year Great Britain granted the UAE its independence, to 2004, Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan al-Nahyan (1918–2004), the ruler of Abu Dhabi, served as president of the federation, along with Maktum bin Rashid al-Maktum (b. 1946), ruler of Dubai, as vice president. At Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan al-Nahyan's death in 2004, his eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan (b. 1948), was chosen as president of the UAE.

The UAE is considered a wealthy country, with a per capita income of $22,100. Life expectancy is seventy-five years, reflecting good health-care services and a high standard of living.

Governmental powers in the UAE are divided between the states and a central federal government. The government is based upon an agreement among the seven member states. The actual authority of the federal regime is limited, given the enormous power possessed by the individual heads of state. Each sheikh (or head of state) is the supreme ruler in his state. The seven state rulers constitute a Federal Supreme Council. The council, the nation's highest authority, elects the president of the federation for a five-year term.

The UAE has a unicameral consultative legislative branch, the Majlis el Ittihad el Watani, or Federal National Council. It is composed of forty members appointed by the head of the seven states for a term of two years. This council, in fact, has no real power; its main functions are to review legislation and to advise rulers on the substance and details of this legislation. The bureaucracy merely reflects the will of the state's ruler; it does not play an important role in the political life of the country. Citizens' participation is nonexistent in terms of elections because none of the members of government institutions are elected. Citizens elect neither their president nor their sheikhs. Instead, citizens must use direct contact, in Majlis (or councils), to voice their concerns to their sheiks and the president.

The judiciary mainly addresses issues related to the day-to-day life of citizens. Although it does not affect the political life of the UAE, political intervention may influence courts' decisions.

The citizens of the UAE enjoy basic liberties, good security, and freedom from torture, unlawful imprisonment, or forced disappearance. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, the country's human rights record has improved, although concerns remained about the treatment of women and allegations of human trafficking. The government's prohibition of political parties prevents the citizens from expressing their political points of view or ideologies. Religious freedom does exist, however, and tolerance for different forms of religion is safeguarded.

See also: Federalism.

bibliography

The Economist. Pocket World in Figures. London: Profile Books, 2003.

Omran Taryam, Abdullah. The Establishment of the United Arab Emirates. New York: Croom Helm, 1987.

"United Arab Emirates." CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ae.html>.

U.S. Department of State. Human Rights Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2004. <http://www.state.gov>.

Mounah Abdel Samad

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