The United Arab Emirates, often known as the Emirates or the UAE, is a nation in the Persian Gulf at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing maritime boundaries with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The UAE’s population was 9.2 million in 2013, including 1.4 million Emirati nationals and 7.8 million expats.
The nation was founded in December 1971 as a federation of seven emirates. Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain are the constituent emirates. Each emirate is ruled by an absolute monarch, who together constitute the Federal Supreme Council. The President of the United Arab Emirates is chosen from among the monarchs. The official religion of the UAE is Islam, and Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken and used in business and education, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The UAE has the world’s seventh-largest oil reserves and the world’s seventeenth-largest natural gas reserves. Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the UAE, supervised the country’s growth and directed oil money into healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The UAE has the most diverse economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and its most populated metropolis, Dubai, is a major global city and an international aviation center. Nonetheless, the nation is still heavily dependent on petroleum and natural gas exports.
The UAE has been chastised for its record on human rights, particularly the unique interpretations of Shari’a applied in its judicial system. Because of the UAE’s growing worldwide prominence, several observers see it as a regional and medium power.