Birth of the United Arab Emirates Soon after assuming power on 6th August 1966 as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed underscored the importance of union and remarked: ?In harmony, in some sort of federation, we could follow the example of other developing countries?. The significance of unity and the need to work in co-operation with the other emirates was thus ingrained in Sheikh Zayed?s thinking very early in his career. Although he was fully aware that federation was a novel concept in the region, yet he had a firm conviction that it could be implemented on the basis of common ties that bound the different emirates, and the history and heritage that they shared together for centuries. To translate his ideals of union, co-operation and mutual support into practice, Sheikh Zayed began to devote a large part of his emirate?s income from oil to the Trucial States Development Fund long before the inception of the UAE as a federal state. In 1968 the British Government, under the pressure of adverse economic conditions, announced the termination of all its treaties protecting the Trucial States and its intention to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971. This sudden decision while threatening to create a military and political vacuum in the area, also helped to reduce the obstacles and difficulties that had hindered the earlier attempts at union of the emirates. The very prospect of ending the special relationship that had existed between Britain and the Trucial States for one hundred and fifty years, clearly sounded the signal for some form of association more formal and more binding than was represented by the Trucial States Council. As a result of these new forces set in motion, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, along with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, promptly initiated the move towards establishing a federation. This federation was meant to be the nucleus of Arab unity and to protect the potentially oil-rich coast from the ambitions of the more powerful neighboring countries.
Initiative taken by the Rulers of the two leading emirates resulted in a meeting on 18th February 1968, at al Semha on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This was a historic meeting where Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid agreed to merge their respective emirates in a union and jointly conduct foreign affairs, defense, security and social services and adopt a common immigration policy. Other administrative matters were left to the jurisdiction of the local government of each emirate. This momentous agreement came to be known as the Union Accord and may be considered as the first step towards uniting the Trucial Coast as a whole. In order to further strengthen the federation, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid also invited the Rulers of the five other Trucial States and Bahrain and Qatar to join in the negotiations for the formation of the union. From 25th to 27th February 1968, the Rulers of these nine states convened a constitutional conference in Dubai. For over three years the eleven-point agreement, conceived in Dubai, served as the basis for intensive efforts to shape the constitutional and legal framework for this ?Union of Arab Emirates?, comprising these nine member states. There were countless meetings on many levels of authority. The key issues were agreed in the meetings of the Supreme Council of Rulers, formed by the nine Heads of State. There were formal discussions by the Deputy Rulers and by various committees, involving civil servants from these emirates as well as external advisers. In the summer of 1971, it became clear that Iran no longer lay claim to Bahrain and the Ruler of Bahrain, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah, declared the island states? independence on 14th August 1971. Qatar followed suit on 1st September 1971.
Authorities in the seven Trucial States next worked on an alternative to the ?Union of Arab Emirates?. Already the Rulers of the six Trucial States viz., Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah, (with Ras al Khaimah still hesitating) had decided to form the United Arab Emirates in a meeting held in Dubai on 18th July 1971. The foundation of an independent, sovereign state was formally proclaimed on 2nd December 1971, and after Ras al Khaimah joined on 10th February 1972, the federation was complete with the inclusion of all the seven former Trucial States. This newly founded federal state became officially known as Dawlat al Imarat al Arabiyya al Muttahida or the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A Provisional Constitution, based on an amended version of the earlier draft constitution of the nine Gulf States, was agreed upon as its formal basis. It defined as its highest objective, the common good of the UAE as a whole. The Provisional Constitution consisting of 152 articles, divided into a Preamble and 10 parts, specified the powers which were to be allocated to the new federal institutions, while all others were to remain the prerogative of the local governments of the individual emirates.
The five central authorities outlined in the Constitution are:
The Supreme Council constituted by the seven Rulers; it is the highest policy-making body of the state and is vested with the ultimate legislative and executive powers.
The President and Vice President of the federal state.
The Council of Ministers or Cabinet.
The Federal National Council (FNC); it is a consultative council comprising forty members drawn from the emirates on the basis of their population with eight deputies each from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, six each from Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah, and four each from Fujairah, Ajman and Umm al Qaiwain.
The Judiciary; it is structured into a hierarchy of courts at the apex of which is the Federal Supreme Court.
Judiciary; it is structured into a hierarchy of courts at the apex of which is the Federal Supreme Court.The Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was elected by his fellow Rulers as the first President of the UAE, a post to which he has been successively re-elected at five-year intervals. The then Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was elected as Vice-President, a post which he held until his death in 1990, when his eldest son Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid was elected to succeed him. In a historic meeting on 20th May 1996, the Federal Supreme Council approved a draft amendment that made the country?s Provisional Constitution the permanent Constitution of the UAE, and named Abu Dhabi as the capital of the state. The UAE embarked on its political career as a federation of seven regional states of very different sizes, natural resources, population and wealth, but with a common history and heritage. Abu Dhabi, is the largest in terms of area, and is also blessed with the richest oil reserves. The federal institutions are very largely financed by Abu Dhabi. Dubai was even in 1971, the best connected of the city-states and continues to grow as the hub of the region?s trade and business. Some of the other emirates have always been endowed with relative wealth of water and arable land. But despite these disparities, the UAE?s impressive record of progress has been possible because of the success of the federation and its leaders working in a spirit of harmony and co-operation for the achievement of common goals.
Central authorities undertook as their primary duty, the utilization of the wealth of the country?s natural resources for the benefit of the UAE as a whole. This contributed in a large measure to the success and permanence of the federation. The Rulers of the UAE, which today ranks among the top oil and gas producers worldwide, used its oil wealth with remarkable vision and foresight to improve the lives of its people, and create an infrastructure that supports a growing list of non-oil industries and activities. From the very outset, it has been the firm conviction of Sheikh Zayed that ?Money is of no value unless it is used for the benefit of the people?. The social services provided by the federal ministries, especially free education, housing, healthcare and social aid for the Emiratis, paved the way for a rapid and phenomenal growth and development throughout the country. And finally with the advent of modern technology, the UAE has been transformed from one of the least developed countries to a modern nation state within less than three decades.
Another important factor contributing to the political stability enjoyed by the UAE since its formal inception is the carefully planned and successfully implemented foreign policy of its leaders which is primarily aimed at ?promoting conciliation and defusing confrontation and conflict?. The cornerstone of the UAE?s foreign policy is to protect the sovereignty of the country and the independence of its citizens within the broader framework of Gulf security. Another key component of this policy has been to gradually expand the country?s political horizons and develop relations with international powers and work in co-operation with international organizations. Thus soon after its emergence as a full-fledged state, the UAE joined the Arab League and the United Nations. It was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) in the 1970s. The establishment of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), comprising the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, at a summit held in Abu Dhabi in 1981, and the promotion of relations with other Arab countries, are reflections of the UAE?s determination to bolster solidarity with the rest of the Arab World.
Role of the President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, needs to be particularly emphasized in this connection as his stature has grown internationally in tandem with the status of the country on the world stage. Over the years, he has emerged as the mentor and mediator for the younger statesmen not only in the GCC, but also within the Arab World and for many a developing country. It is also largely due to his humanitarian approach derived from his firm faith in Islam, that a host of poor countries and communities worldwide have benefited from the financial and material assistance given in the name of the UAE by the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, the UAE?s military organization is the only non-Nato force helping with peacekeeping in Kosovo. It is not surprising therefore, that the spectacular generosity of this small country has drawn the attention of the world by helping to alleviate the misery of the victims of natural or man-made calamities at home and abroad.
Even individually, all the emirates and notably Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, are drawing international attention by offering wide-ranging economic opportunities, sports and leisure facilities, cultural activities and also by creating awareness for the protection of the environment and wildlife, and by promoting tourism. The remarkable advancement of the Emirati women in every sphere of life constitutes another important yardstick for measuring the progress of the country as a whole. Accorded equal status and opportunities by the Constitution, women of the UAE today are making their presence felt in society in a pronounced way. The UAE Women?s Federation established in Abu Dhabi in 1975 by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the President, along with its branches in all the other emirates, deserves credit for playing a major role in the emancipation of women. However, what is even more noteworthy is that despite overall modernization, the architects of UAE?s development consider the preservation and continuation of their traditional culture and time-honored heritage to be of utmost importance.
Success of the UAE?s political system lies in the fact that it represents a unique combination of the traditional and modern with an inherent commitment ?to consensus, discussion and direct democracy?. The sacrifices and achievements of its founding fathers, contributed to the emergence of this modern nation in place of the erstwhile independent and backward emirates. The UAE is the only federal state in the Arab world that has not only survived, but has succeeded in evolving a distinct national identity through the passage of time. On the occasion of the celebration of twenty-five years of success of the federation, Sheikh Zayed had remarked with satisfaction, ?that which has been accomplished has exceeded all our expectations, and that, with the help of God and a sincere will, confirms that there is nothing that cannot be achieved in the service of the people if determination is firm and intentions are sincere?. The Federation of the UAE is, and will continue to be, a source of pride for the present and future generations of Emiratis.
Abu Dhabi, by far the largest emirate, is ruled by the Al Nahyan family. It occupies 67,340 square kilometers or 86.7% of the total area of the country. The emirate is primarily a vast desert area with about two dozen islands in the coastal waters, including the island where the city of Abu Dhabi is located, plus six sizeable islands further out in the Arabian Gulf. The population of the emirate is concentrated in three areas: the capital city, Abu Dhabi; Al Ain, an oasis city located near the Hajar Mountains; and the villages of the Liwa oases.
Traditionally, the population along the coast relied on fishing and pearling for their livelihood, whilst those in the hinterland relied on date plantations and camel herding. Through remarkable leadership and personal commitment, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan developed Abu Dhabi into an influential, fully modernized state. Upon Sheikh Zayed’s death in November 2004, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Dubai, the second largest of the seven emirates, is ruled by the Al Maktoum family. It occupies an area of approximately 3,900 kilometers, which includes a small enclave called Hatta, situated close to Oman, amongst the Hajar Mountains. Dubai, the capital city, is located along the creek, a natural harbor, which traditionally provided the basis of the trading industry. Pearling and fishing were the main sources of income for the people of Dubai. Under the wise leadership of its rulers, Dubai’s focus on trade and industry transformed it into the leading trading port along the southern Gulf. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the current ruler of Dubai.
Sharjah, which shares its southern border with Dubai, is ruled by the Al Qasimi family. It is approximately 2,600 square kilometers and is the only emirate to have coastlines on both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. In the nineteenth century the town of Sharjah was the leading port in the lower Gulf. Produce from the interior of Oman, India and Persia arrived there. Sharjah’s salt mines meant that salt constituted an important part of its export business, along with pearls. In the 1930s when the pearling industry declined and trade decreased due to the creek silting up, Imperial Airways’ flying boats set up a staging post for flights en route to India, which benefited the residents of Sharjah. Today, under the leadership of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is the cultural and educational Centre of the UAE and takes pride in preserving the country’s cultural heritage as well as promoting Arab culture and traditions.
Ajman is the smallest emirate, comprising only 260 square kilometers. It is ruled by the Al Nuami family. Surrounded mostly by the emirate of Sharjah, Ajman also possesses the small enclaves of Manama and Musfut in the Hajar Mountains. Along the creek dhow building was the specialized trade. Fishing and date-trees provided the local population with their primary means of sustenance. Ajman benefited greatly from the union of the emirates, a fact that is reflected today in their stately buildings and infrastructure. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuami has been the ruler since 1981.
Umm Al Qaiwain is ruled by the Al Mualla family. It is the second smallest emirate, with a total area of around 770 square kilometres. Positioned between the emirates of Sharjah and Ajman to the south and Ras Al Khaimah to the north, Umm Al Qaiwain has the smallest population. Fishing is the local population’s primary means of income. Date farming also plays a significant role in the economy. After the union of the emirates in 1971 Umm Al Qaiwain developed into a modern state, and continues to progress under its present ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mualla.
Ras Al Khaimah, the most northerly emirate, is ruled by another branch of the Al Qasimi family. It covers an area of 1,700 square kilometers. Thanks to the run-off water from the Hajar Mountains, Ras Al Khaimah has a unique abundance of flora, so it is no surprise that agriculture is important to the local economy. The emirate also benefits from its stone quarries, and fishing, which is plentiful in the rich waters of the Gulf. The city of Ras Al Khaimah, situated on an inlet, has a rich history. It was renowned for its prosperous port and for its exquisite pearls, which were famous as being the whitest and roundest available anywhere. Ras Al Khaimah’s current ruler is Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
The only emirate without a coastline on the Arabian Gulf is Fujairah, which is ruled by the Al Sharqi family. Situated along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, Fujairah covers about 1,300 square kilometres. Unlike other emirates, where the desert forms a large part of the terrain, mountains and plains are its predominant features. Fujairah’s economy is based on fishing and agriculture. Like Ras Al Khaimah, the land in Fujairah is irrigated by rainwater from the Hajar Mountains, making it ideal for farming. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi is the present ruler.
Under the UAE system of government, the President of the Federation is elected by a body known as the Supreme Council of Rulers. The Supreme Council is the top policy-making body in the UAE, and the President and Vice President are both elected from its membership for renewable five-year terms.
The Supreme Council has both legislative and executive powers. In addition to planning and ratifying federal laws, the Supreme Council approves the President’s nominated Prime Minister and is equipped to accept his resignation, if required.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. He or she then appoints a Council of Ministers, or Cabinet, to oversee the development and implementation of federal policy across all portfolios of government.
In addition to the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers, a 40-member parliament known as the Federal National Council (FNC) also examines proposed new legislation and provides advice to the UAE Cabinet, as required. The FNC is empowered to call and question Ministers in regard to their own performance, providing an additional degree of accountability to the system. Groundbreaking developments to open up decisionmaking were made in December 2006, with the first indirect election of FNC members. Previously, all FNC members were appointed by the Rulers of each Emirate.
The introduction of indirect elections represents the beginning of a process to modernize the UAE’s system of government. Under these reforms, individual Rulers select an electoral college whose members total 100 times the number of FNC members held by that Emirate. The members of each college then elect half of the FNC members, while the other half continue to be appointed by each Ruler.
The process resulted in an FNC in which one-fifth of its members are women.
Future initiatives are expected to expand the size of the FNC and strengthen the interaction between it and the Council of Ministers, to further improve the efficiency, accountability and participatory nature of government in the UAE. In November 2008, the terms for FNC members were extended from two to four years, which is more consistent with other parliaments in the world. In addition, the government will report to the FNC about proposed international treaties and agreements, and those agreements will be discussed by the FNC before their ratification.
Historically, the political environment of the UAE has been characterized by great affection for the country’s leadership and institutions of government. This is largely in response to the rapid growth and development the UAE has experienced under their guidance in recent decades.
The principles guiding UAE foreign policy were expressed by the country’s first President, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. These include an underlying belief in justice in international dealings between states, a principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states and the pursuit, wherever possible, of peaceful resolutions of disputes, with strong support for international institutions, such as the United Nations (UN).
Through its support for such bodies, the UAE seeks to reinforce the rule of international law, and to support the implementation of internationally agreed conventions, protecting the interests of the small, the weak and the powerless.
Within the Arabian Gulf region, and in the broader Arab world, the UAE has sought to enhance cooperation and to resolve disagreement through dialogue.
Security and Stability
The UAE occupies a critical strategic position on the Arabian Gulf, where nearly one-quarter of the world’s oil is produced and shipped. Today, the UAE provides UN, US, European Union (EU) and NATO forces unprecedented access to ports and territory, overflight clearances and other critical and important logistical assistance.
The UAE supports the international fight against terrorism. The UAE has frozen the accounts of known terrorists and enacted aggressive anti-money-laundering initiatives. New counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations have been introduced and enforced.
Committed to combating Islamic extremism in all of its forms, the UAE is participating in a multinational mission with the US and other partners to confront ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab League, as well as the UN and its agencies.
Supporting the New Iraqi Government
The UAE is meeting its commitments to Iraq reconstruction by providing important financial and in-kind support, including free medical treatment, hospital reconstruction, humanitarian supplies and police training.
Commitment to Afghanistan
The UAE continues to make a significant humanitarian contribution in Afghanistan, and has done so since 2003. The UAE Red Crescent has invested $19 million in local projects, and the UAE Government has dedicated $30 million to international reconstruction efforts in the country. And the UAE people have made $22 million in private contributions. These investments have contributed to the construction of 11 schools, 6 medical clinics, a major hospital, a public library and numerous mosques, among other projects.
The UAE has a military presence in Afghanistan, with a strictly defensive purpose, consistent with the UAE Constitution. The UAE Armed Forces on the ground are focused on the protection of humanitarian initiatives and ensuring safety and stability for local communities. Personnel are also directly involved in culturally sensitive community development activities, especially necessitating knowledge of the Arabic language or Islamic traditions, alongside representatives of key humanitarian organizations such as the Red Crescent.
Recent achievements in healthcare, education and the provision of basic infrastructure can in part be attributed to the work of the UAE Armed Forces in the provision of safety, stability and culturally sensitive community development.
With the international community, the UAE shares a deep concern over Iran’s nuclear development and its impact on peace and stability in the region. The UAE fully supports and enforces United Nations Security Council resolutions barring shipment of sensitive materials and technologies to Iran.
Located just across the Gulf, the UAE and Iran have historic ties, including a significant trading relationship. The UAE, with the GCC, wants the entire region to be free of weapons of mass destruction.
Israel and Palestine
The UAE believes that the restoration of security, peace and stability in the region, and the normalization of relations between all countries, including Israel, can be achieved with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, within the context of a just and lasting peace agreement, based upon the Arab peace initiative.
The UAE participated in the 2007 Annapolis talks and is a member of the Arab Quartet, and actively promotes a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Federal National Council (FNC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities, as established by the Constitution. Its first session was opened on 2 December 1972. The FNC’s official mandate is to provide for public debate of legislation. Furthermore, the FNC discusses proposals and plans of various federal ministries, entities and public institutions.
- There are 40 members of the FNC, apportioned amongst the UAE’s seven emirates.
- Since 2006, one-half of FNC members have been elected to serve four-year terms (the other half of the body is comprised of officials who have been appointed by the Ruler’s Court of the UAE’s seven emirates).
- Of the current FNC members, eight are women. In the 2011 elections, 85 of the 468 candidates were women.
The FNC sessions, held in Abu Dhabi, are open to the public, except in exceptional closed sessions, which must be approved by a majority vote of the Council.
The Electoral Process
In 2006, the UAE established an Electoral College system, whereby half of the FNC’s 40 seats were chosen by designated electors. In line with the UAE’s commitment to expand political participation amongst citizens in a measured and sustainable way, the size of the UAE’s Electoral College greatly increased for the 2011 election. In 2011, there are 129,274 electors nationwide, compared to 6,689 in the 2006 contest.
- In 2011, 46% of all electors are women and 35% of all electors are between the ages of 21 and 30.
- Elections are conducted via secret ballot at electronic voting machines in thirteen polling centers throughout the UAE.
- Any member of the Electoral College can be a candidate for the FNC.
- FNC candidates are required to run on individual platforms, and campaign financing is strictly regulated. Campaigns are privately financed, and the use of public funds for campaigning is prohibited. Each campaign must submit financial disclosure forms.
- Candidates are encouraged to report complaints or irregularities to the National Elections Committee, which is authorized to review such issues provided they are raised within 48 hours of the close of polling.
The UAE is committed to providing equality and social justice to all people living within its borders. Over the last four decades, the UAE has transformed from a traditional, largely rural nation – where people had limited to no access to education and health services – to a modern, urbanized society with sophisticated infrastructure. With this extraordinary growth came large-scale immigration—the total UAE population increased by nearly 75 percent between 1995 and 2006.
Rapid urban development and population expansion brought new challenges for the UAE, its people and government. The UAE Government has taken an active, transparent and inclusive approach in order to protect the different communities that contribute to the country’s growth and development.
In recent years, significant progress (link is external) has been made to promote and ensure the rights of workers, women and children; implementing domestic legal frameworks; and ratifying international human rights
Stopping Human Trafficking
The UAE is a regional leader in combating human trafficking and is the first country in the Arab region to enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Between 2007 and 2012, the UAE made remarkable progress on its four-part anti-trafficking strategy, which focused on:
- Developing legislation and regulations related to human trafficking;
- Guiding the relevant authorities towards implementing preventive and deterrent measures;
- Securing protection and support for the victims of these crimes; and,
- Promoting regional and international cooperation to combat human trafficking.
In its 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (link is external), the United States Department of State concluded that the UAE was making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and that the government continued to prosecute and punish sex trafficking offenders.
Other highlights of the UAE’s anti-trafficking activities include:
- An expanded media campaign to enhance public awareness about the crime of human trafficking;
- A strategy to combat all forms of forced labor through the imposition of heavy fines; and,
- An expansion in the number of shelters for women and children who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. These shelters provide care for victims of human trafficking in line with the highest international standards.
Strengthening Worker’s Rights
The UAE is actively committed to strengthening the rights of workers and has undertaken a series of measures that create more flexibility and freedom in the labor market. These include regulatory measures that protect the rights of workers in case of disputes with employers and provide access to litigation processes, as well as guarantee decent and safe accommodation for workers.
The United States Department of State noted the UAE’s efforts in its 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (link is external) for initiating the Abu Dhabi Dialogue among migrant-labor sending and receiving states in 2008. Through the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, governments seek to foster policies that offer greater transparency and protections for would-be migrants for labor source countries. The report concluded that other countries in the region, stating that they need to overhaul their sponsorship systems, as well as expand and improve efforts to protect these vulnerable workers.
Advancing the Role of Women
The UAE is a progressive, moderate country where women hold leadership roles in all sectors and industries, including government, military, business and society. Women now occupy thirty per cent of higher leadership and decision-making positions in the UAE and participate meaningfully in every facet of civic and political life. The promotion of women’s rights continues to be a priority on the nation’s agenda with the government adopting a National Strategy for the Advancement of Women for 2013 to 2017.
Understanding the important role international cooperation plays in the protection of human rights, the UAE has taken active measures, as reported in its submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council(link is external), to comply with internationally accepted standards.
The UAE recently acceded to various international conventions, including:
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child
- The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (whose optional protocol the UAE signed in 2010)
- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
- The Convention on Transnational Organized Crime
- The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are an essential part of the principles and values engrained in Emirati society. The UAE continues to promote and protect human rights by ensuring national implementation of human rights commitments and complying with international standards.
The UAE has one of the most open economies in the world. This tradition of welcoming business and trade goes back to early Gulf history, when ships sailed to India and along the coast of East Africa as far south as Mozambique.
The UAE continues to be a strategic hub, with business-friendly free zones and a quickly growing economy. The country has experienced significant economic growth. Average GDP growth over 2000 to 2006 in the UAE was about 8.4 percent—the highest in the Gulf Cooperation Council, which averaged 6.5 percent.
The nominal GDP for 2007 was $192 billion. This reflects the rich natural resources in the UAE, which has 10 percent of the total world supply of oil reserves and the world’s fifth largest natural gas reserves.
As a mainstay to the economy, oil exports now account for about 30 percent of total UAE gross domestic product. In addition to being an important supplier of energy, the UAE is now becoming an increasingly relevant consumer of energy. The UAE will continue its long tradition of responsible energy stewardship as it develops and diversifies its economy, accelerates the development of additional hydrocarbon reserves and contributes to the development and implementation of alternative energy sources.
Diversification Creates Trade Opportunities
The UAE launched a diversification and liberalization program to reduce reliance on oil and transform its economy from a conventional, labor-intensive economy to one based on knowledge, technology and skilled labor. The federal and individual Emirate governments have invested heavily in sectors such as aluminum production, tourism, aviation, re-export commerce and telecommunications.
This resulting infrastructure boom sees virtually every economic sector undergoing rapid redevelopment and expansion. The UAE accounts for most of the ongoing and planned infrastructure projects among the GCC countries, amounting to an estimated $300 billion in investments over the next five years, according to Dubai-based Khaleej Times.
A number of global business indexes have recognized the advantages that the UAE brings to international business. AT Kearney ranks the UAE as one of the top 20 best places in the world for global service business. And the UAE is ranked in the top 30 on the World Economic Forum’s “most-networked countries”—ahead of all other Arab nations, as well as countries like Spain, Italy, Turkey and India. The UAE also gets positive rankings from Transparency International’s corruption index, ranking in the top quarter as a least corrupt country. US business has also recognized the importance of the UAE-US economic relationship. In May 2007, the US Chamber of Commerce launched the US-UAE Business Council, whose members include 36 companies from both countries.