|United Emirates of the Persian Gulf|
الامارات للخليج الفارسي
Map of the United Emirates (green)
|HH King Faisal II|
• 2010 estimate
• Per capita
|Drives on the||left|
The United Emirates of the Persian Gulf are an important nation in the Middle East.
The Gulf region was first converted to Islam in the 630's. Remaining largely independent they were, only in the 16th century, taken over by a major power: Portugal. Then, portions of the nation came under the direct influence of the Ottoman Empire. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the "Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce." It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement. Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the UK with other Persian Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help in case of land attack.
During WWII many men in the region went to fight for the British, mainly in Egypt.
Following WWII there were talks of independence and unification but nothing concrete was achieved until 1953-54, when meetings at Doha and Muscat got concrete results. On April 17, 1955 the United Emirates of the Persian Gulf were proclaimed; Prince Hamad of Abu Dhabi (1904-1966) and his wife were elected King and Queen.
While the monarchs were intent on some liberalizing the country there were still many conservatives who thought otherwise. In 1957 Bahrain left the union and right-wing conservatives pressured the king to invade and reconquer Bahrain. Over time, the king became a puppet of the conservatives. In 1958 there was a small communist insurgency in Salalah over conditions in the poorer regions of the country and the conservative government. This got the interest of the Soviets, who began supplying them arms. When it seemed that the rebels were about to lose, the Soviet Union invaded the Emirates in 1960. At the Battle of Sur the royalist army was defeated by the much better Soviets. Soon the king fled the country and the people lost confidence in the monarchy. The Monarchy in the Emirates was saved by one man, Prince Faisal, the King's brother (1910-1971; he took control of the army's remains and became the head of the guerilla insurgency. He fought like Lawrence of Arabia, using the desert, the terrain and excellent tactics to fight the Soviets. It became a nightmare for them and in May 1963 pulled out, calling it an unwinnable war. It later became known (the early 1990's) that Europa had been supplying weapons to the royalists and that even AMTACT troops had fought in several engagements.
The only major remnant of the Soviet occupation is the city of Palmyra, which has been abandoned for many years.
King Faisal's early reign became known as the "Jetset era". The country (mainly the urban centers) began to modernize, especially with the influx of oil revenues. People began to adopt western dress and had less strict lifestyles and the country was very stable. By the early 1970s, under King Hussein (1941-2009) the standard of living in the Emirates was one of the best in the Middle East. While other monarchies had been toppled in this era, such as in Iran and Afghanistan, Faisal got even more support due to his social programs introduced in 1972. With OPEC embargoes in the 1970s the Emirates grew to be the largest regional economy after Saudi Arabia.
But there were still problems in this period, mainly with Yemen. During the late 1960s a conflict erupted with South Yemen. Though a truce was signed in 1969 no peace treaty was signed until 1986 and by then there had been another engagement.
1980s and 1990s
In the 1980s there was a general economic decline and the country's oil was losing out internationally. In 1989 after nearly a decade of economic downturn the country's fortunes began to be bettered. Dependence on oil was replaced with a larger sector focusing on solar power, wind power and later biofuels. Tourism became a large sector, and cities such as Dubai began large construction projects. Dubai soon became a transportation hub, and the national airline, Emirates.
In the 2000s the economy of the Emirates was booming, and dependence on oil was replaced by a mixed economy. The economic downturn of 2008 led to a temporary cooling off of economic growth. King Hussein died in 2009 and was succeded by his son, Faisal. Like in many Middle-Eastern countries there were protests against the government.
Historically the Emirates were, like most middle Eastern nations, a country ruled by an all-powerful monarch. Beginning in the 1960s democracy began to kick in. Nowadays the country is a proportional-representative style goverment.
The government of the Emirates meets in the National Parliament. The building was built from 1964-1969 in Dubai. the government is split into three branches, the executive, legislative and judiciary. The King is the executive (head of state). He is still a powerful figure within government, but the other two bodies keep his powers in check. The legislative body consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate. The Chamber consists of representatives elected by general vote. The Senate consists of members selected by the king. The difference is that the king selects candidates and the people must elect 100 senators from the candidate pool.
There are 9 parties that run in general elections.
The United Emirates has, since the 1960s, embarked on a program of social security and improvement in people’s lives. While many Middle Eastern countries were facing conflict in this period, the Emirates government was focused on welfare programs. In 1966 the government of Hamad Benaziz (in power from 1963-1975) began enacting an extensive social security program, providing pensions for the elderly, maternity benefits and a large-scale program to assist the unemployed and help them find jobs. By 1976 this was one of the most extensive programs in the world. With the election of conservative President Ramzi Karimi the government slowly began to undo these programs, but large protests across major cities forced Karimi to keep these programs.
The United Emirates recognizes all nations in the world, but has strained relations with a handful. It views Saudi Arabia as a stable ally, though is critical of its undemocratic politics. The Emirates was one of the first nations to recognize Palestine, in October 1948. Unlike most Arab nations, it had full diplomatic relations with Israel from early 1949 although recognition was officially given on 12 May 1993; it was assumed for decades that formal recognition existed until lawmakers pointed out in 1992 that none formally existed.The UE's government was also quick in recognizing Kosovo (2008) and the NTC in Libya (2011). The Emirates goverment has strained relations with Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Bolivia. Yemen is the sole nation which the UE has no formal relations, due to various conflicts in the 1960s, 1970s and recently in 2010 and 2011 which have led the Emirates to conclude that Yemen is "an openly hostile nation with no intention to cooperate in bilateral negotiations". As such,the government has serious restrictions on travel to Yemen.
The Emirates have a strong economy and currency, the Derat. While being the strongest currency in the world, it is not very stable. But within the country there is still a great divide between rich and poor. In regions in the north, including Bahrain District, Qatar District, Abu Dhabi District, Dubai District and Muscat District, the standard of living is very high and the GDP per capita is in excess of US$ 80,000. In the south and inland desert regions, it is much lower, at about $15,000. The UECB (the central bank) was founded in 1961 to regulate national economic matters.
The Armed forces of the United Emirates were established in 1956 to protect the nation and all its citizens. Since then, they have been engaged in various conflicts, including the Salalah Revolt, Emirates War, the War on Terror and the 2010 Emirates-Yemen War.