The United Arab Emirates consists of seven independent city-states: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah. Four-fifths of the UAE is desert but has contrasting landscapes—from the towering red dunes of the Liwa to the rich palm-filled oases of Al Ain, from the precipitous Al Hajar Mountains to the more fertile stretches of its coastal plains. Though small in size (similar to the State of Maine), the UAE has become an important player in regional and international affairs.
Strategically located in the Arabian Gulf, and within an eight-hour flight of two-thirds of the world’s population, the UAE is a modern crossroads, connecting East and West. As such, the UAE’s two largest cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have also emerged as regional centers for business, education, culture and tourism.
In 1971, the late President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan unified the small, underdeveloped states into a federation—the only one in the Arab world. With his visionary leadership, oil wealth was used to develop the UAE into one of the world’s most open and successful economies.
In 2004, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became president and has since continued to strive towards an ambitious vision for the UAE.
Globalized and Open
In just over four decades, the nation has transformed from a tribal culture reliant on agriculture and fishing to an entrepreneurial success story with world-class infrastructure. The leadership has improved education (effectively eliminating illiteracy), advanced health care and embraced change as the UAE modernizes, consistent with its history and cultural values.
The UAE is also strengthening institutions of government to ensure a transparent legal system with full regard for the quality of life of all citizens and residents. Eight members of the Federal Cabinet are women. And in November 2015, Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi became President of the Federal National Council, making her the region’s first female leader of a national assembly.
The UAE is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Today the UAE is a strong, vibrant and modern nation that welcomes people from all around the world.
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