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United Arab Emirates Modern History

Most of the seven emirates were very poor since the pearl industry ended up in crisis. Not until 1958 was oil found in Abu Dhabi and later in two other emirates. With a beginning of prosperity, the Emirate became more closely knit and in 1971 the United Arab Emirates became an independent federation. Abu Dhabi came to dominate but Dubai could also increase its influence. Since 1990, extensive modernization has taken place.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing United Arab Emirates. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

The inhabitants of the emirate were still feeding on agriculture, livestock, boatbuilding and / or fishing in the mid-1900s. The emirate then was extremely poor. The exceptions were Dubai, which established itself as a trading and smuggling center, and Sharja, which received income from pearl fishing and a British air base. Abu Dhabi was still poor, but due to its size, a force to be reckoned with among the emirates.

The year 1958 marked a turning point when oil was found in Abu Dhabi. Almost ten years later, oil was also found in Dubai, and in 1974 also in Sharja. As income from oil exports grew, communities were built up, and the emirates became increasingly connected to one another. In 1971, the United Emirates became an independent state when six of the seven emirates merged into a federation. The following year also joined Ras al-Khayma.

Economic development was rapid throughout the 1970s. The population increase also accelerated: between 1960 and 1980 the number of inhabitants increased tenfold, from about 100,000 to 1 million. Growth was 16 percent annually during the end of the period. The authorities used the money to make extensive investments in the development of roads, electricity and water supply, ports, hospitals and schools. A service sector began to be expanded. But the development also posed problems. When oil prices rose in 1974, this resulted in overheating. Inflation increased to 30 percent per year. However, rapid economic growth could be maintained thanks to imported labor.

Contemporary History of United Arab EmiratesAbu Dhabi and its ruler Zayid bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who since independence was the country's president, sought to strengthen the federation, and in 1973 several of Abu Dhabi's government members took leading positions in the administration. In 1976, the armed forces of the various emirates were coordinated and the constitution was amended so that the federation could set up a joint army and buy weapons. In 1978, Dubai and Ras al-Khayma - after a conflict over how far centralization would go - refused to contribute to the federal armed forces and Dubai began importing its own weapons. The conflict was resolved by the fact that Dubai's emir, who has always been vice president of the federation, was also appointed prime minister. Since then, the Emir of Dubai has always had both of these items.

The Iran-Iraq war outbreak in 1980 was the first external threat to the United Arab Emirates. Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which would have interrupted oil transports and stripped the country's revenue. At times, the United Arab Emirates contributed money to Iraq and on several occasions the country risked being involved in the war before the 1988 ceasefire eliminated the threat.

In 1987 a coup attempt was made in Sharjah by the emir's brother. However, it was stopped by the Supreme Council, which consists of the rulers of the seven emirates (see Political system).

The country was shaken by an international financial scandal in the 1990s. The bank BCCI, mostly owned by the ruling family in Abu Dhabi, went bankrupt in 1991 as a result of suspected fraud.

In 1996, the city of Abu Dhabi was formally designated as the capital of the United Emirates in connection with the temporary constitution of independence becoming permanent.

The country's president Zayid carried out a government transformation on his deathbed in 2004, and for the first time appointed a female member of the government, Finance Minister Lubna bint Khalid al-Qasimi.

President Zayid had since the late 1990s handed over much of the power to the eldest son, Crown Prince Khalifa, for reasons of age and health. The day after Zayid's death, the other emirs appointed Khalifa as the country's president. New crown prince in Abu Dhabi became Khalifa's half-brother, reform-friendly Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nahyan.

President Khalifa increased the pace of economic reform and tackled difficult issues, such as land ownership, that his father chose to avoid.

When the emirate of Dubai's ruler, Maktum bin Rashid Al Maktum, passed away in early 2006, the federation also got a new prime minister and vice president. The posts were taken over by the emir's younger brother, Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktum, who had been in charge of Dubai for a long time.

In December 2006, the United Arab Emirates held its first political election. More than 6,000 selected citizens were allowed to nominate half of the members of the Federal National Advisory Council.

 
 

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