The United Arab Emirates (UAE), or simply the Emirates, is a country in West Asia, situated at the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It shares land borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia and maritime borders in the Persian Gulf with Qatar and Iran. Abu Dhabi serves as the country’s capital, while Dubai, the most populous city, stands as a global hub.
Formation and Governance: The UAE is an elective monarchy formed by a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Each emirate is an absolute monarchy led by a ruler. Collectively, the rulers form the Federal Supreme Council, the highest executive and legislative body. The Federal Supreme Council elects a president and two vice presidents. As of May 14, 2023, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the president, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan as vice presidents.
Demographics and Economy: As of 2023, the UAE’s estimated population is 9.97 million, with Emirati citizens constituting 11.6% and the majority being expatriates, primarily from South Asia. Islam is the official religion, and Arabic is the official language. The UAE holds the world’s sixth and seventh-largest oil and natural gas reserves, respectively. Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president, invested oil revenues in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The country’s diversified economy focuses on tourism and business, making it the most diversified among the Gulf Cooperation Council members.
International Relations: The UAE is a member of various international organizations, including the United Nations, Arab League, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, Non-Aligned Movement, World Trade Organization, and Gulf Cooperation Council. It is also a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and is set to join BRICS on January 1, 2024, alongside Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Human Rights Concerns: Human rights organizations criticize the UAE for substandard practices, citing reports of government critics facing imprisonment and torture, families harassed by state security, and instances of forced disappearances. Fundamental rights, such as freedom of assembly, association, the press, expression, and religion, are reported to be severely repressed.