A Brief History of the United Arab Emirates (Part 2)
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.