United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states, born in 1971, in the wake of independence from Britain. From then on it has grown from a remote place to the most thriving economic centres of the world.
The states of UAE are – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujiarah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Qaiwain. They are all independent in their own way, but altogether UAE is ruled by a Supreme Council of Rulers made up of the seven emirs. They decide the prime minister and the cabinet. Earlier, before the discovery of oil in the 1950’s, the economy was based on fishing and pearl industry. After 1962, Abu Dhabi turned to be the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil. Then there was no looking back, the society and economy witness rapid transformation.
Late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE at its inception, took advantage of the situation, by grabbing the potential of oil industry. He had clear cut vision of the emirates, and diverted the revenue into healthcare, education and national infrastructure.
The rise of oil industry resulted in large flow of foreign workers who together with expatriates built the country. The expatriate community is now consists of three quarters of the population. The farsightedness of the UAE authority is clear from the fact that they diversified into other areas of economy, making right atmosphere for business, tourism and construction sectors.
Abu Dhabi was relatively conservative till recently, but now has changed, Dubai among the emirates was bolder in diversification because it had very small oil reserves.
Dubai found means to attract vast amounts of foreign investment in various ambitious construction projects, most famous among them is Burj Khalifa skyscraper, which is the world’s current tallest skyscraper. Moreover there are other projects coming up such as the palm-shaped artificial Palm Islands. Among the emirate state, Dubai was most hit by 2009 global financial crisis. Property sector and construction sector was worst hit, but tourism, trade and retail sector remained stable.
Overall Emiratis are traditionally conservative but among other countries UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf. Other cultures and belief are generally accommodated especially in Dubai.
Politically it is authoritarian is understood from the fact that it is the only country in the region which did not have elected bodies until 2006. It now has a half elected federal assembly that only functions as a consultative body.
Four fifth of the UAE land area is filled with desert, it is a country of contrasting landscapes like stunning dunes to rich oases, steep rocky mountains to fertile plains.