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Middle East - United Arab Emirates

Background
The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Zaby, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. In March 2011, about 100 Emirati activists and intellectuals posted on the Internet and sent to the government a petition calling for greater political reform, including the establishment of a parliament with full legislative powers and the further expansion of the electorate and the rights of the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE's quasi-legislature. In an effort to stem further unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern Emirates. In late September 2011, an FNC election - in which voting was expanded from 6,600 voters to about 12 percent of the Emirati population - was held for half of the FNC seats. The other half are appointed by the rulers of the Emirates.


Geography
Location:

Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia

Area:
total: 83,600 sq km
country comparison to the world: 115
land: 83,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Climate:
desert; cooler in eastern mountains
Natural Resources:
petroleum, natural gas


People
Population: 5,314,317 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
note:estimate is based on the results of the 2005 census that included a significantly higher estimate of net immigration of non-citizens than previous estimates

Ethnic groups:
Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note:less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)

Religions:
Muslim 96% (Shia 16%), other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%

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

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.9%
male: 76.1%
female: 81.7% (2003 est.)


Government
Government type: federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates

Capital:
name: Abu Dhabi
geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:
2 December 1971 (from the UK)

Legal system:
mixed legal system of Islamic law and civil law

Executive branch:
chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister and Vice President MUHAMMAD bin Rashid Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009) and MANSUR bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website)
note:there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets four times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power
elections: president and vice president elected by the FSC for five-year terms (no term limits) from among the seven FSC members; election last held 3 November 2009 upon the death of the UAE's Founding Father and first President ZAYID bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan elected president by a unanimous vote of the FSC; MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum unanimously affirmed vice president after the 2006 death of his brother Sheikh MAKTUM bin Rashid Al-Maktum

Legislative branch:
unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the constituent states, 20 members elected to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 24 September 2011 (next to be held in 2015); note - the electoral college was expanded from 6,689 voters in the December 2006 election to 129,274 in the September 2011 election; 469 candidates including 85 women ran for 20 contested FNC seats
note:the FNC reviews legislation but cannot change or veto

Judicial branch:
Union Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)



Economy Overview

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, 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. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. In April 2004, the UAE signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Washington and in November 2004 agreed to undertake negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement with the US, however, those talks have not moved forward. The country's Free Trade Zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors. The global financial crisis, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009 and 2010. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency. The UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi-based banks bought the largest shares. In December 2009 Dubai received an additional $10 billion loan from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The economy is expected to continue a slow rebound. Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.


Key Economic Indicators
GDP – real growth rate:
3.3% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
3.2% (2010 est.)
-3.2% (2009 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$48,500 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$48,400 (2010 est.)
$48,300 (2009 est.)
note:data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP – composition by sector
agriculture:0.7%
industry: 59.4%
services: 39.8% (2011 est.)

Labor force:
4.111 million
country comparison to the world: 88
note:expatriates account for about 85% of the work force (2011 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $120.8 billion
expenditures: $102.9 billion (2011 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
0.9% (2010 est.)

Agriculture – products:
dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish

Industries:
petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, textiles

Exports:
$265.3 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$212.3 billion (2010 est.)

Exports – commodities:
crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates

Exports - partners
Japan 17.1%, India 13.6%, Iran 6.9%, South Korea 6.1%, Thailand 5.1% (2010)

Imports:
$185.6 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
$161.4 billion (2010 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food

Imports – Partners
India 17.5%, China 14%, US 7.7%, Germany 5.6%, Japan 4.8% (2010)

Exchange rates:
Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -
3.673 (2011 est.)
3.673 (2010 est.)
3.673 (2009)
3.6725 (2008)
3.6725 (2007)

Communications
Telephones – main lines in use
1.48 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 67

Telephones – mobile cellular:
10.926 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 65

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable
international: country code - 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia

Internet country code: .ae

Internet hosts:
379,309 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 54

Internet Users: 3.449 million (2009)

country comparison to the world:
61



Source: CIA World Factbook