The United Arab Emirates is a constitutional federation of seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The federation was formally established on 2 December 1971.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) occupies an area of 83,600 sq km along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies to the west, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and Oman to the north and east. The capital and the largest city of the federation, Abu Dhabi, is located in the emirate of the same name.
Four-fifths of the UAE is desert, yet it is a country of contrasting landscapes, from awe-inspiring dunes to rich oases, precipitous rocky mountains to fertile plains.
The United Arab Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing tourist destinations, has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable holiday, sun, sand, sea, sports, unbeatable shopping, top-class hotels and restaurants, an intriguing traditional culture, and a safe and welcoming environment.
The Seven Emirates
Abu Dhabi is the largest of all seven emirates with an area of 67,340 square kilometers, equivalent to 86.7 per cent of the country’s total area, excluding the islands. It has a coastline extending for more than 400 kilometers and is divided for administrative purposes into three major regions. The first region encompasses the city of Abu Dhabi which is both the capital of the emirate and the federal capital.
Dubai is the second largest Emirate in the UAE, a leading commercial centre and the Centre for hosting trade fairs and conferences in the Middle East. Dubai is the economic capital of the United Arab Emirates, has evolved considerably over the past years. Dubai lies between Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It constitutes an important Emirate of money and business in the world, and point of tourist destinations for millions of tourists annually.
Sharjah is a city of learning and the arts, as confirmed by its 1998 UNESCO designation as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World. The city of Sharjah is home for more than 20 museums with splendid collections of artifacts and art as well as exhibits on science and natural history. Sharjah is the only emirate to have land on both the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The Emirate of Ajman is situated on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, extending over a distance of 16 km, between the emirates of Umm al-Qaiwain and Sharjah. The area of the emirate is 259 square kilometers, equivalent to 0.3% of the country's total area, excluding the islands.
It is the second smallest emirate in terms of space. Umm al-Qaiwain is located between three emirates, which are Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. Ajman and Sharjah lies at the south of the Emirate, and Ras Al Khaimah north. Also, Umm Al Qaiwain is smaller in terms of population. The Citizens depend on fishing and cultivating palm trees as source of income. But now Umm al-Qaiwain is developing and highlight features of the architectural renaissance.
Ras Al Khaimah is the historical capital of the United Arab Emirates. Its area is 1700 square kilometres. Ras Al Khaimah is characterized by its green tree, which extends to cover a vast area of it. The city of Ras Al Khaimah which lies on the sea, has a long history stems from the flourished port and the special Pearl. The emirate is witnessing significant developments.
Fujairah holds a unique position in the UAE. It is the only emirate that lies on the eastern side of the UAE, along the Gulf of Oman, while all the six other emirates are along the Arabian Gulf. The area of the it is 1,300 square kilometers, which vary between mountains and plains and desert.Fujairah's main occupation in the past were fishing and agriculture.
The United Arab Emirates is a Federation of seven Emirates, each with its own ruler. Government works at three levels – federal, Emirate and municipal. Since its formation in 1971, the Federation has brought political stability and security. The UAE’s political system is a unique mix of the old and new. Cultural traditions such as open majlis, in which tribesmen voice their opinions directly to their ruler, coexist alongside a modern and always evolving administrative system.
The Federal Government has responsibility for the following: foreign affairs, security and defence; nationality and immigration issues; education; public health; currency; postal, telephone and other communications services; air-traffic control and licensing of aircraft; labour relations; banking; delimitation of international waters and the extradition of criminals. In May 1996, the provisional constitution was made permanent, and Abu Dhabi was designated as the Federation’s capital.
The Federal Government structure comprises five bodies: the Federal Supreme Council, President, Council of Ministers, Federal National Council and Federal Judiciary.
Federal Supreme Council
The rulers of each Emirate are members of the Federal Supreme Council, which is the top policy-making body in the UAE. The Council elects the President and Vice-President of the UAE, ratifies federal laws and decrees, and approves the nomination of the Prime Minister, who is selected by the President in consultation with Supreme Council members.
His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, was elected the first President of the Federation. Following his death on 2 November 2004, he was succeeded by his son and Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on 3 November, 2004. The Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was elected Vice-President of the Federation. After his death on 4 January 2006, he was succeeded by his brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The President and Vice-President are elected for a five-year term and are eligible for re-election on the expiry of their terms.
The President exercises a wide range of legislative and executive powers. He is entrusted with signing laws, decrees and decisions approved and sanctioned by the Supreme Council, supervising their implementation through the Council of Ministers, and ratifying treaties and international agreements approved by the Supreme Council and Council of Ministers.
Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers is the UAE’s executive body. It is lead by the Prime Minister, who chooses a Cabinet from among representatives of the seven Emirates. The membership of the Cabinet is then ratified by the President. Four members of the current Council of Ministers are women.
Federal National Council
The Federal National Council or FNC is a consultative assembly, made up of 40 members representing the seven Emirates. The number of seats assigned to each Emirate is determined by their population – Abu Dhabi (8), Dubai (8), Sharjah (6), Ajman (4), Umm al-Quwain (4), Ras alKhaimah (6), and Fujairah (4). FNC members hold office for four years, and the Council sits from the third week of October.
In December 2006, a process of electing FNC members was initiated. Half the members were elected, and half are nominated by the ruler of each Emirate. Nine members of the current FNC are women. The National Council examines proposed federal legislation and constitutional amendments, reviews the annual draft budget of the Federation, debates international treaties and conventions and influences the Government’s work through discussion, question-and-answer sessions and in making recommendations.
The Federal Judiciary, which is accorded independence under the Constitution, includes the Federal Supreme Court and Courts of First Instance. The Federal Supreme Court comprises five judges appointed by the Supreme Council. The judges decide on the constitutionality of federal laws and arbitrates on inter-Emirate disputes between the Federal Government and the Emirates.
Corresponding to the federal institutions are the local governments of the seven Emirates. Varying in size, they have evolved along with their respective Emirates’ growth, and their mechanisms differ from Emirate to Emirate