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The United Arab Emirates, often known simply as the Emirates or the UAE, is a West Asian country on the Arabian Peninsula. It has a long coastline on the Persian Gulf, and it shares borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia, as well as maritime borders with Iran and Qatar.

The UAE is a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain, each of which is governed by a monarch. One of the monarchs, usually the emir of Abu Dhabi, serves as president of the Emirates, while its governing body is the Federal Supreme Council, comprised of the seven emirs.

The peninsula has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age. A culture known as Umm al-Nar developed near the current location of Abu Dhabi in the 3rd millennium BC. The next major influences on the region were the Persians. The Persian Sassanid empire controlled the region until Islam was introduced in 636 AD. Christianity became strong for a short time, through the Nestorian Church, which had a monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island, west of Abud Dhabi, in the 5th century.

During the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Ormus controlled most of the region, including the entrance to the Gulf. It controlled much of the slave trade until they were supplanted by the Portuguese.

By the 16th century, the port regions were being pressured by the Ottoman Empire. At around the same time, Portuguese, Dutch, and English forces made their appearance in the Gulf region. The region became known as the Pirate Coast, as the maritime activities of the Al Qawassim, the ancestors of the current rulers of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, harassed British ships. Another federation that began along the coast of the lower Gulf were the Bani Yas, whose descendants now rule Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The British launched raids on the Qawassim in 1805, 1809, and 1811, and in 1820 a British fleet destroyed or captured every Qawassim ship it could find and installed a garrison to protect its interests in the region. In 1835, the Maritime Truce increased British influence in the region. The treaty was modified in 1853 when the region became known as the Trucial States.

The seven sheiks of the emirates formed a council to coordinate relationships in the region, which became the Trucial States Council in 1952. In 1922, aware of the potential for oil and other natural resources, a British-controlled oil company, the Iraq Petroleum Company, developed an interest in the region, and Britain obtained an agreement from the Trucial States Council not to sign concessions with any foreign companies. Later, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which later became British Petroleum, also became explorations. In 1953, D'Arcy Exploration, a subsidiary of British Petroleum, struck oil, leading to the first oil exports from the UAE in 1962.

By the mid-1960s, Britain had determined that it could no longer afford to administer and protect the interests of what is now known as the United Arab Emirates. In 1971, they announced the cessation of their protection treaty with the seven emirates. One day before their announced independence and Iranian destroyer took the Tunb Islands by force, while a British warship stood by, taking no action. When a group of Iranian destroyers approached Abu Musa Island as well, an agreement was made to lease the island to Iran. Saudi Arabia claimed large amounts of Abu Dhabi.

Bahrain and Qatar became independent in 1971, the same year that Britain's treaty with the Trucial States expired. The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai formed a union, then called the rulers of the other five emirates to invite them to join. Bahrain and Qatar declined an invitation to join the union that became the United Arab Emirates.

Since the UAE was formed, it has cooperated with the United States and Allied military operations in the region. The country has entered into a military defense agreement with the United States and France, both of which maintain bases in the UAE.

The UAE has the seventh-largest oil reserves in the world, most of it concentrated in Abu Dhabi. The country has used its oil wealth to finance an infrastructure for manufacturing, trade, and tourism. Today, its oil and gas revenues account for less than 2% of its GDP.

Islam is the state religion of the United Arab Emirates and the religion that about 75% of its population identifies with. However, just over 10% of its population are Emiratis, the bulk of its population made up of immigrants and foreign expatriates. Arabic is the national language, although knowledge of English is a requirement for most jobs in the Emirates. With the exception of Judaism, most religions are tolerated in the United Arab Emirates, but the life and culture of the nation is rooted in Islam.

Topics related to the United Arab Emirates or to organizations located in the UAE are the focus of this category.


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