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Full Country Name: United Arab Emirates
Area: 83,600 sq km; 77,700 sq km excluding islands, of which 97% is desert
Population: 8.26 million (National Bureau of Statistics, March 2011)
Capital City: Abu Dhabi
People: Of the total 8.26 million residents, less than 20% are Emirati, more than one-third are South Asian, and a significant number are from Europe and North Africa.
Languages: Arabic. English is widely understood and Hindi and Urdu are common among immigrants.
Religion(s): Islam is the official religion, and widely practised. The majority of Emirati citizens are Sunni Muslim with a Shi'a minority. Many foreigners are Muslim. Hindus and Christians make up a portion of the U.A.E.'s foreign population
Currency: 1 UAE Dirham = 100 fils
Major political parties: Political parties are not permitted
Form of State: Federation of seven emirates
Head of State: Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The Supreme Council, comprising the seven emirs, elects the president from among its members.
Prime Minister/Premier: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Government: The Supreme Council appoints the Council of Ministers (cabinet), led by the Prime Minister.
Foreign Minister: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Membership of international groups/organisations: Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Arab League, Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), United Nations, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

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Basic Economic Facts (Economist Intelligence Unit, July 2011)

GDP: USD294,674m
GDP per head: USD56,382
Annual Growth: 2.1%
Inflation: 0.9%
Major Industries: Oil, gas, Petrochemicals, manufacturing and construction
Major Trading Partners: Exports: Japan, India, Iran, South Korea, Thailand. Imports: India, China, US, Germany, Japan.
Aid & Development: None
Exchange Rate: AED 3.67 = USD 1.00 (February 2012)
The UAE has one of the highest GDP's per head in the world. Although it is still heavily dependent on revenues from hydrocarbons, the UAE is relatively well insulated from periods of low oil prices due to successful moves towards economic diversification, large foreign exchange reserves and overseas investments. The global economic crisis is being felt in the UAE with a number of projects being either shelved or cancelled. There have been redundancies across all sectors, and particularly in construction. The lack of funds and credit, while mild compared to Europe and the US is beginning to have an effect.

Abu Dhabi has approximately 10% of the world's proven oil reserves and 5% of the gas. The Emirate also has an impressive investment portfolio financed from oil income. Dubai is different. Its hydrocarbon reserves are far more limited, and therefore its economy is more diverse - based on a vision of making Dubai the region’s business, logistics, media and leisure hub. The Northern Emirates fair less well, although Sharjah and Rasal Khaimah have established themselves as bases for manufacturing and Fujairah is starting to make more of its East Coast location. The Northern Emirates are, to a greater or lesser extent, reliant on Abu Dhabi and funds from the Federal Government.

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Recent History

The UAE Federation was formed on 2 December 1971 as a fully independent state when the so called 'Trucial States' ended their individual treaty relationships with Britain. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the first President of the UAE until his death on 2 November 2004. His son Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected President on 4 November 2004. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai following the death of his brother, Sheikh Maktoum in 2006.

Longer Historical Perspective

The earliest significant settlements in the area which now makes up the UAE date from the Bronze Age. During the Middle Ages they formed part of the Kingdom of Hormuz. European influence began with the Portuguese in the 16th century followed by the British in the 18th century. In 1892, a number of agreements signed between the British and the ruling sheikhs in the region led to the formation of the 'Trucial States'.

BBC News Country Timeline: United Arab Emirates (

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The UAE is increasingly active internationally, and they share perspectives with the UK on a number of global issues. In Libya, the UAE played a role alongside NATO forces to implement UNSCR 1973, and have formally recognised the Libya Transitional National Council as the legitimate representation of the Libyan people. In Afghanistan, the UAE are working in partnership with international allies in support of the ISAF campaign and transition process. A joint visit by the Foreign Secretary and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in June highlighted the close cooperation and depth of the relationship between the UK and UAE, and our shared long term commitment to the Afghan people. (

The UAE remain a leading partner in the GCC initiative on Yemen, which aims to stop the violence and bring about peaceful transition. They are also a like-minded partner on the threat Iran poses to the region’s security.

In May the North Atlantic Council approved the establishment of a diplomatic mission of the UAE to NATO. Abu Dhabi is now the Headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.


Bilateral relations are good. The UAE is host to 100,000 of the 160,000 Britons who live in the Gulf, and one million Britons travel there every year. The UAE is our largest export market in the Middle East for non-military goods and we estimate that there are over 4,000 British businesses operating in the UAE.. British nationals have helped drive prosperity and development and have been involved in iconic projects such as the Burj Khalifa and Abu Dhabi F1. Emiratis also have strong links to the UK including the London Array, and London Gateway Project. Numerous other links are developing daily across the political, social and cultural fields. On security, our Defence Cooperation Agreement represents our largest defence commitment outside NATO.

A UK-UAE Taskforce was established in July 2010 with the intention of further strengthening the ties between the two countries. It followed the visits of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the UAE, and of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the UAE His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK.

His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, released a communiqué (HYPER LINK) to mark and commend the end of the first year of its work. The UK-UAE Taskforce met for the sixth time in Abu Dhabi on 30 October 2011. It will meet again in London on 21 March. (

The UAE is one of the priorities for the Gulf Initiative through which the British Government is committed to deepening and broadening its engagement with all Gulf countries. The Government is expanding its co-operation with Gulf States across the board: in culture, education, defence and security, trade and investment, and foreign policy co-operation.

To help support these links, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during Her Majesty The Queen’s State Visit to the UAE in November 2010. The MOU covers consular co-operation to help increase tourism, institutional co-operation, and friendship, and helps promote safe and trouble-free travel to both our countries. This included the formation of a Joint Consular Committee, which met for the first time on 25 May 2011.

Cultural and Education

The British Council in UAE aims to build trust and understanding between the peoples of each through exchange of knowledge and ideas in education and culture. The Council has offices in the three emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah offering English Language courses and access to UK qualifications for UAE students, as well as maintaining a varied programme of cultural exchange. In addition, British Council UAE works with Emirati partner organisations to build schools links with UK Schools and to offer access to English Language resources across all seven Emirates.

in 2010, the British Council in UAE connected more than 125,000 people with the UK through its programmes and projects. In the Arts, highlights included the UK Film Season in Dubai and the UK showcase at the Dubai Jazz Festival. In education, the Council works with local partners to share knowledge and ideas in policy and practice for Further and Higher Education, supporting joint programmes and partnerships between UK and Emirati institutions.

Education and cultural ties between the UK and UAE remain strong with more than 3000 UAE domiciled students studying in the UK and an array of UK courses available in the UAE through partnerships between UK and Emirati institutions. There are more than seven branch campuses for UK institutions in the UAE offering UK qualifications.

The British University in Dubai is a unique partnership delivering post graduate qualifications in the UAE in partnership with five UK universities. Cultural ties are also strong as evidenced by the British Museum’s partnership with Zayed National Museum which is due to open in Abu Dhabi in 2015.The UK UAE taskforce has a commitment to deepen and strengthen ties in both education and culture via governmental support for partnerships in these areas.

British Council, UAE (

Recent Visits

-- February 2012: Alderman David Wootton, Lord Mayor of London
-- June 2011: William Hague, Foreign Secretary
-- June 2011: Lord Howell, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
-- June 2011: Lord Marland, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change
-- April 2011: Dr Liam Fox, Defence Secretary
-- April 2011: Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary
-- April 2011: Alan Duncan, Minister of State, Department for International Development (x2)
-- April 2011: Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
-- March 20011: Dr Liam Fox, Defence Secretary
-- March 2011: Joint visit by William Hague, Foreign Secretary and Alan Duncan, Minister of State, Department for International Development
-- February 2011: Visit by Lord Mayor of London
-- January 2011: Greg Barker, Minister of State, Energy and Climate Change
-- December 2010: Dr Liam Fox, Defence Secretary
-- November 2010: Lord Turner, Financial Services Authorities Chair
-- November 2010: State Visit by HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. HRH The Duke of York and the Foreign Secretary
-- September 2010: Lord Sassoon, Minister of State, Treasury
-- September 2010: Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
-- June 2010: Dr Liam Fox, Defence Secretary
-- June2010: David Cameron, Prime Minister
-- January 2008: HRH The Duke of York
-- March 2004: Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
-- November 2003: HRH The Duke of York
-- February 2003: Lord Mayor of London


-- February 2012: HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister
-- February 2012: Dr Anwar Gargash, Deputy Foreign MinisterJune 2011: Dr Anwar Gargash, Deputy Foreign Minister
-- June 2011: Dr Hadef bin Jua`an Al Dhaheri, Minister of Justice
-- May 2011: Dr Anwar Gargash, Deputy Foreign Minister
-- April 2011: HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister
-- April 2011: HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces
-- January 2011: Dr Anwar Gargash, Deputy Foreign Minister
-- October 2010: Sultan Al Jaber, Assistant Foreign Minister for Energy and Climate Change
-- October 2010: HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister
-- June 2010: HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister
-- June 2010: Joint visit by ADNEC Chairman HH Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Trade HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi and Abu Dhabi Executive Council General Secretary HE Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi
-- June 2010: HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister
-- November 2007: His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed called on the Foreign Secretary
-- October 2007: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai met with the Prime Minister.
-- November 2006: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi met with the Prime Minister.
-- March 2006: His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister met with the Foreign Secretary.
-- January 2006: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi met with the Prime Minister.
-- June 2003: His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

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The UAE is a federation of seven autonomous Sheikhdoms with a total land area of 83,600 square kilometres. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm al Qaiwan and Ajman. The climate on the coast is dry sub tropical with very hot and humid summers (May to October); temperatures can reach 46C. Winters are mild, with temperatures ranging between 14 and 23C. The interior has a desert climate with cool winters and hot arid summers.

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The UAE is our largest trading partner in the Middle East, and our 16th largest globally in terms of exports (£ 3.9 billion in 2010). Key sectors for the UK in the UAE are: infrastructure (construction and mass transport); energy; defence and security; education and training; financial and professional services; and creative and media.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: UAE (

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The UAE's system of government is enshrined in the 1971 constitution. It consists of the Federal Supreme Council (consisting of the rulers of the seven Emirates), a President and Vice President (elected by the Supreme Council for a five year term), a Council of Ministers, and a 40-strong Federal National Council (drawn from representatives of all seven Emirates), which has a consultative role only. From the summer of 2006, half of the Federal National Council has been elected, but until recently, only 7,000 handpicked Emiratis were eligible to vote. The Federal National Council recently announced an increase in the size of the electoral college to more than 100,000.

Human Rights

Human rights remain a high priority for the British Government. Where there are cases of human rights concern in the UAE, we raise these frankly and directly with the UAE Government at official and Ministerial level. HMG pursues a policy of direct, frank engagement with the UAE on human rights, combined with practical, positive supportive action. This includes the mainstreaming of human rights through UK police-led mentoring and training, and UK-UAE engagement on counter-terrorism and financial crime.

The UAE has acknowledged at the UN that, like other countries, it faces some ongoing human rights challenges. We continue to support its intention to address those, and to join relevant international conventions to which it is not yet a party.

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Last Updated: 23

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