History of United Arab Emirates


Prior to independence, the UAE was Trucial Oman, also known as the Trucial States, and the component sheikhdoms of the territory were under British protection.

Although, from 1892, the United Kingdom assumed responsibility for the sheikhdoms´ defence and external relations, they were otherwise autonomous and followed the traditional form of Arab monarchy, with each ruler having virtually absolute power over his subjects.

In 1952 a local body, the Trucial Council, comprising the rulers of the seven sheikhdoms, was established.
The object of the Council was to encourage the adoption of common policies in administrative matters, possibly leading to a federation of the states.

Petroleum, the basis of the area´s modern prosperity, was first discovered in 1958, when deposits were located beneath the coastal waters of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the sheikhdoms.

Onshore petroleum was found in Abu Dhabi in 1960. Commercial exploitation of petroleum began there in 1962, providing the state with greatly increased revenue. However, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan an-Nahyan, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1928, failed: to use the income from petroleum royalties to develop his domain.

In January 1968 the United Kingdom announced its intention of withdrawing British military forces from the area by 1971. In March 1968 the Trucial States joined nearby Bahrain and Qatar (which were also under British protection) in what was named the Federation of Arab Emirates.

It was intended that the Federation should become fully independent, but the interests of Bahrain and Qatar proved to be incompatible with those of the smaller sheikhdoms, and both seceded from the Federation in August 1971 to become separate independent states.

In July six of the Trucial States (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ajman and Fujairah) had agreed on
a federal Constitution for achieving independence as the United Arab Emirates. The UK accordingly terminated its special treaty relationship with the States, and the UAE became independent on 2 December 1971.

The remaining sheikhdom, Ras al-Khaimah, joined the United Arab Emirates in February 1972. At independence Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi took office as the first President of the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Rashid bin Said al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai since 1958, became Vice-President, while his eldest son, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum (Crown Prince of Dubai), became Prime Minister in the Federal Council of ministers.

In October 1990, upon the death of his father, Sheikh Maktoum acceded to the positions of ruler of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE was a founder member of the GCC of the Gulf (generally known as the Gulf Co-operation Council) in May 1981. The GCC aims to achieve greater political and economic integration between Gulf countries, and from 1983 onwards, the United Arab Emirates took part in joint military exercises with the other member states.

Since the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973, in which it strongly supported the Arab cause, the UAE has contributed large sums of aid to Arab countries. Despite giving aid to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), diplomatic relations with Iran were maintained, and the United Arab Emirates offered to mediate between the two countries.

In common with the other Arab states, the United Arab Emirates condemned the 1979 Camp David agreements between Egypt and Israel, and diplomatic relations with Egypt were severed. Full diplomatic relations were restored in November 1987. Commercial links have since been fostered by the two countries.


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