Made up of seven discrete states, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) gained independence in 1971. Even before forming an independent country, the states in the UAE relied on their wealth of oil and natural gas to finance an assortment of government programs and services. Unlike many of its counterparts in the Middle East, the UAE has done an impeccable job of managing those resources, resulting in levels of wealth comparable to those found in the top Western countries. As with most countries, the recent economic turmoil has taken its toll on the UAE. Still, the country maintains one of the most open economies in the world.
The UAE operates as a federation, with governmental powers divided between the federal government and the member emirates. One of the most important governing bodies is the Supreme Council of Rulers, which consists of the seven emirate rulers. This group holds both executive and legislative powers, maintaining responsibility for electing the country’s President and Vice President every five years. The current President is His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has held control since His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who united the emirates in 1971 and served as the longtime President, died in 2004. The President is responsible for appointing a Prime Minister, who then assembles and oversees the Cabinet, which advises members of the Supreme Council. The Council also receives advice from a 40-member parliament called the Federal National Council.
UAE upholds a Constitution that protects the rights of both men and women. Four members of the Cabinet are women, as well as nine members of the Federal National Council. In addition, in the UAE, women outnumber men in higher education—three of every five students are women.
To learn more about the United Arab Emirates, visit the Embassy’s website, http://www.uae-embassy.org.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba hopes to continue this organization’s purpose as a cross-cultural investment that serves the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba supports a number of initiatives in the Washington, DC area that encourage educational development, environmental awareness, arts and culture, science and technology, and strong communities. He supports the efforts of Girls on the Run, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and the Urban Alliance Foundation.
With a mission to employ youth and inspire excellence, the Urban Alliance Foundation provided an opportunity for two interns to work for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) for the 2009-2010 school year. The next year, two different interns participated in this program, one of whom worked at the ADC while the other participated in an internship at the Latin American Youth Center. The purpose of the ADC is to promote the rich heritage of Middle Eastern culture and protect the rights of Arab-American individuals by advocating policy change and combating negative stereotyping. The Urban Alliance Foundation allows students to contribute to a professional committee through an internship that offers them financial literacy skills, social support, and life skills training. These paid internships give young adults from underserved areas in the Washington, DC community the chance to experience the benefits of finishing high school and enrolling in college. Out of the many young adults in the community, more than 1,100 have gained employment through this program, and these students boast a 99 percent high school graduation rate. Eight out of ten participants in the Urban Alliance program learn important job skills before their first year is over, and almost 90 percent of these interns enroll in college.