Country Listing

United Arab Emirates Table of Contents

United Arab Emirates


Armed Forces: Known as Union Defense Force. In mid-1993 personnel strength 57,500: army, 53,000; navy, 2,000; and air force, 2,500. Army uses French and Italian main battle tanks and wide assortment of other armored vehicles. In addition to several gun boats, navy operates six Exocet-equipped guided missile boats. Combat aircraft include Mirages, Hawks, and Aeromacchi MB326s .


THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) in 1993 was a federation of seven separate amirates that had joined together in the winter of 1971-72 to form a single independent country. The new nation was created out of the British dependencies that had been known as the Trucial Coast states (also seen as Trucial Oman or Oman Coast) since 1853 when Britain and the local rulers signed the Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity, an agreement that ceded to London responsibility for foreign affairs. The individual amirates of the UAE include Abu Dhabi (also seen as Abu Zaby), Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Dubayy (also seen as Dubai), Ras al Khaymah, Sharjah (also seen as Ash Shariqah), and Umm al Qaywayn.

The UAE's oil resources make it one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The oil and the revenues it generates, however, are not equitably distributed. Revenues from petroleum exports accrue principally to the government of Abu Dhabi, where more than 80 percent of the oil is located. Three other amirates- -Dubayy, Ras al Khaymah, and Sharjah--account for the remainder of the UAE's oil production. Nevertheless, since the formation of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has made significant annual contributions to the federal budget. Federal expenditures on development projects in the amirates lacking oil enable them to benefit, albeit modestly, from the overall oil wealth.

The UAE's oil-fueled economic growth has been accomplished with the assistance of thousands of foreign workers. Citizens composed only 12 percent of the 1.9 million people living in the UAE in 1991 and constituted only 7 percent of the labor force. The foreign workers come from other Arab countries and from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Britain, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Western Europe. The presence of such a large and diverse foreign community provides a cosmopolitan atmosphere to the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubayy. However, throughout the 1980s, there was growing resentment of foreigners among many UAE citizens, who felt uncomfortable being a minority, although a very privileged one, within their own country.

The rulers have been conscious that their country's small size and population, combined with relatively large oil revenues, make the UAE vulnerable in the context of regional politics. During the 1980s, the UAE tried to maintain its neutrality in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) by providing modest loans for the Iraqi war effort and permitting Dubayy to serve as a major port of entry for goods being transshipped to Iran. The UAE also joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a collective security and cooperation association, established in 1981, of the six oilproducing Arabian Peninsula states. After Iraq invaded and occupied fellow GCC member Kuwait in 1990, the UAE joined the international military coalition that opposed and eventually defeated Iraq. In 1992 tensions with Iran over disputed islands in the Persian Gulf induced the UAE to expand its military cooperation with the United States.

Data as of January 1993