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U.S. Department of State Background Note

United Arab Emirates

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United Arab Emirates

PEOPLE

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

President, Ruler of Abu Dhabi--Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Vice President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Ruler of Dubai--Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Deputy Prime Minister--Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed al Nahyan
Deputy Prime Minister--Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al Nahyan
Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince--Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development--Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais
Minister of Economy--Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
Minister of Education--Dr. Hanif Hassan
Minister of Energy--Mohammed bin Dha'en Al Hamili
Minister of Environment and Water--Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi
Minister of Federal National Council Affairs--Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash
Minister of Finance and Industry--Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Minister of Governmental Sector Development--Sultan Al Mansouri
Minister of Health--Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami
Minister of Higher Education--Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Minister of Interior--Major Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Minister of Justice--Mohammed Nakhira Al Daheri
Minister of Labor--Dr. Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi
Minister of Presidential Affairs--Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Minister of Public Works--Sheikh amdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Minister of Social Affairs--Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi
Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs--Mohammad Abdullah Gergawi
Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs--Dr. Mohammed Khalfan Bin Kharbash
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs--Mohammed Hussain Al Sha'ali

Ambassador to the United States--Saqr Ghobash
Ambassador to the United Nations--Abd al-Aziz Bin Nasir al-Shamsi

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 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

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

Ambassador-- Michele J. Sison
Deputy Chief of Mission--Martin Quinn
Political Officer--Al Magleby
Economic Officer--Oliver John
Consular Officer--Robert Dolce
Public Affairs Officer--Steven Pike
Management Officer--Stewart Devine
Commercial Officer--Christian Reed

U.S. Embassy mailing address--PO Box 4009, Abu Dhabi; tel: (971) (2) 414-2200, PAO (971)(2) 414-2410; fax: (971)(2) 414-2603; Commercial Office: (971)(2) 414-2304; fax: (971)(2) 414-2228; Consul General in Dubai--Paul Sutphin; PO Box 9343; tel: (971) (4) 311-6000; fax: (971)(4) 311-6166, Commercial Office: (971)(4) 311-6149).

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

Revised: Jun. 2007

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