[Country map of United Arab Emirates]

United Arab Emirates


Location: Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia

Map references: Middle East

total area: 75,581 sq km
land area: 75,581 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries: total 867 km, Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km

Coastline: 1,318 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final; no defined boundary with most of Oman, but Administrative Line in far north; claims two islands in the Persian Gulf occupied by Iran (Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg or Greater Tunb, and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchek or Lesser Tunb); claims island in the Persian Gulf jointly administered with Iran (Jazireh-ye Abu Musa or Abu Musa); in 1992, the dispute over Abu Musa and the Tunb islands became more acute when Iran unilaterally tried to control the entry of third country nationals into the UAE portion of Abu Musa island, Tehran subsequently backed off in the face of significant diplomatic support for the UAE in the region

Climate: desert; cooler in eastern mountains

Terrain: flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert wasteland; mountains in east

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 2%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 98%

Irrigated land: 50 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources being overcome by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills
natural hazards: frequent sand and dust storms
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Law of the Sea

Note: strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil


Population: 2,924,594 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (female 499,559; male 521,415)
15-64 years: 64% (female 643,819; male 1,229,730)
65 years and over: 1% (female 10,296; male 19,775) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.55% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 27.02 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 3.03 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 21.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 21 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.51 years
male: 70.42 years
female: 74.71 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.53 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Emirian(s)
adjective: Emirian

Ethnic divisions: Emirian 19%, other Arab 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)

Religions: Muslim 96% (Shi'a 16%), Christian, Hindu, and other 4%

Languages: Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write but definition of literary not available (1985)
total population: 71%
male: 72%
female: 69%

Labor force: 580,000 (1986 est.)
by occupation: industry and commerce 85%, agriculture 5%, services 5%, government 5%
note: 80% of labor force is foreign (est.)


conventional long form: United Arab Emirates
conventional short form: none
local long form: Al Imarata al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
local short form: none
former: Trucial States

Abbreviation: UAE

Digraph: TC

Type: federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE central government and other powers reserved to member emirates

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Administrative divisions: 7 emirates (imarat, singular - imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Dubai, Ra's al Khaymah, Sharjah, Umm al Qaywayn

Independence: 2 December 1971 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 2 December (1971)

Constitution: 2 December 1971 (provisional)

Legal system: secular codes are being introduced by the UAE Government and in several member emirates; Islamic law remains influential

Suffrage: none

Executive branch:
chief of state: President ZAYID bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan (since 2 December 1971), ruler of Abu Dhabi; Vice President Shaykh MAKTUM bin Rashid al-Maktum (since 8 October 1990), ruler of Dubayy
head of government: Prime Minister Shaykh MAKTUM bin Rashid al-Maktum (since 8 October 1990), ruler of Dubayy; Deputy Prime Minister SULTAN bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan (since 20 November 1990)
Supreme Council of Rulers: composed of the seven emirate rulers, the council is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation, Abu Dhabi and Dubayy rulers have veto power; council meets four times a year
cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral Federal National Council (Majlis Watani Itihad); no elections

Judicial branch: Union Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: none

Other political or pressure groups: NA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Muhammad bin Husayn al-SHAALI
chancery: Suite 600, 3000 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 338-6500

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador William A. RUGH
embassy: Al-Sudan Street, Abu Dhabi
mailing address: P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi; American Embassy Abu Dhabi, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-6010 (pouch)
telephone: [971] (2) 436691, 436692
FAX: [971] (2) 434771
consulate(s) general: Dubayy (Dubai)

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a thicker vertical red band on the hoist side


Overview: The UAE has an open economy with one of the world's highest incomes per capita and with a sizable annual trade surplus. Its wealth is based on oil and gas output (about 40% of GDP), and the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities. Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. At present levels of production, crude oil reserves should last for over 100 years. Although much stronger economically than most Gulf states, the UAE faces similar problems with weak international oil prices and the pressures for cuts in OPEC oil production quotas. The UAE government is encouraging increased privatization within the economy.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $62.7 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: -0.5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $22,480 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.1% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NEGL% (1988)

revenues: $4.3 billion
expenditures: $4.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1993 est)

Exports: $24 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: crude oil 66%, natural gas, re-exports, dried fish, dates
partners: Japan 35%, South Korea 5%, Iran 4%, Oman 4%, Singapore 4% (1993)

Imports: $20 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, food
partners: Japan 12%, UK 10%, US 9%, Germany 7%, South Korea 5% (1993)

External debt: $11.6 billion (1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.7% (1992 est.); accounts for 50% of GDP, including petroleum

capacity: 4,760,000 kW
production: 16.5 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 5,796 kWh (1993)

Industries: petroleum, fishing, petrochemicals, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, pearling

Agriculture: accounts for 2% of GDP and 5% of labor force; cash crop - dates; food products - vegetables, watermelons, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish; only 25% self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: growing role as heroin transshipment and money-laundering center

Economic aid:
donor: pledged in bilateral aid to less developed countries (1979-89) $9.1 billion

Currency: 1 Emirian dirham (Dh) = 100 fils

Exchange rates: Emirian dirhams (Dh) per US$1 - 3.6710 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 2,000 km
paved: 1,800 km
unpaved: gravel, graded earth 200 km

Pipelines: crude oil 830 km; natural gas, including natural gas liquids, 870 km

Ports: Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Das Island, Khawr Fakkan, Mina' Jabal' Ali, Mina' Khalid, Mina' Rashid, Mina' Saqr, Mina' Zayid, Umm al Qiwain

Merchant marine:
total: 57 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,128,253 GRT/1,938,770 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 18, chemical tanker 1, container 10, liquefied gas tanker 1, livestock carrier 1, oil tanker 21, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 3

total: 41
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 9
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 12
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 3
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 8


Telephone system: 386,600 telephones; modern system consisting of microwave and coaxial cable; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubayy
local: NA
intercity: microwave and coaxial cable
international: 3 INTELSAT (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 ARABSAT earth station; submarine cables to Qatar, Bahrain, India, and Pakistan; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia

broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 3, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 12
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary (includes Federal Police Force)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,072,261; males fit for military service 583,967; males reach military age (18) annually 19,266 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $1.59 billion, 4.3% of GDP (1994)