United Arab Emirates

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The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Dhabi, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its high oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. The UAE has essentially avoided the "Arab Spring" unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East, though in March 2011, political activists and intellectuals signed a petition calling for greater public participation in governance that was widely circulated on the Internet. In an effort to stem potential further unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates and aggressively pursued advocates of political reform.



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

Geographic coordinates

24.00° N, 54.00° E

Area 115/257

total: 83,600 sq km

land: 83,600 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than South Carolina; slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries

total: 1,066 km

border countries (2): Oman 609 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km


1,318 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


desert; cooler in eastern mountains


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


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 4.6%

arable land 0.5%; permanent crops 0.5%; permanent pasture 3.6%

forest: 3.8%

other: 91.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

920 sq km (2010)

Total renewable water resources

0.15 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 3.99 cu km/yr (15%/2%/83%)

per capita: 739.5 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

frequent sand and dust storms

Environment - current issues

lack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

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

People and Society


noun: Emirati(s)

adjective: Emirati

Ethnic groups

Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)

note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)


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


Muslim (Islam; official) 76%, Christian 9%, other (primarily Hindu and Buddhist, less than 5% of the population consists of Parsi, Baha'i, Druze, Sikh, Ahmadi, Ismaili, Dawoodi Bohra Muslim, and Jewish) 15%

note: represents the total population; about 85% of the population consists of noncitizens (2005 est.)

Population 113/238


note: the UN estimates the country's total population to be 9,445,624 as of mid-year 2014; immigrants make up more than 80% of the total population, according to 2013 UN data (2014) (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.85% (male 616,669/female 588,546)

15-24 years: 13.57% (male 466,663/female 317,735)

25-54 years: 61.38% (male 2,704,889/female 842,852)

55-64 years: 3.18% (male 137,753/female 46,214)

65 years and over: 1.01% (male 36,725/female 21,714) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 17.8%

youth dependency ratio: 16.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 1.3%

potential support ratio: 74.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 30.3 years

male: 32.1 years

female: 25.1 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 20/233

2.58% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 128/224

15.43 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 224/225

1.97 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 7/222

12.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 85.5% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.87% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Dubai 2.415 million; Sharjah 1.279 million; ABU DHABI (capital) 1.145 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.47 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 3.21 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 2.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.69 male(s)/female

total population: 2.18 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 146/184

6 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 131/224

total: 10.59 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 12.35 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 72/224

total population: 77.29 years

male: 74.67 years

female: 80.04 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 85/224

2.35 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 182/191

3.2% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

2.53 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


urban: 99.6% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 99.6% of population


urban: 0.4% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 98% of population

rural: 95.2% of population

total: 97.6% of population


urban: 2% of population

rural: 4.8% of population

total: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 22/191

34.5% (2014)

Education expenditures


Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 91/134

total: 12.1%

male: 7.9%

female: 21.8% (2008 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: United Arab Emirates

conventional short form: none

local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah

local short form: none

former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States

abbreviation: UAE

Government type

federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates


name: Abu Dhabi

geographic coordinates: 24.28° N, 54.22° E

time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

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


2 December 1971 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 2 December (1971)


previous 1971 (provisional); latest drafted in 1979, became permanent May 1996; amended 2009 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of Islamic law and civil law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of the United Arab Emirates; if the father is unknown, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 30 years


limited; note - rulers of the seven emirates each select a proportion of voters for the Federal National Council (FNC) that together account for about 12 percent of Emirati citizens

Executive branch

chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)

head of government: Prime Minister Vice President MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan, MANSUR bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (both since 11 May 2009)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the Federal Supreme Council - composed of the rulers of the 7 emirates - for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held 3 November 2009 (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president

election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan reelected president; FSC vote NA

note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets 4 times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Federal National Council or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the 7 constituent states and 20 indirectly elected by an electoral college whose members are selected by each emirate ruler proportional to its FNC membership; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 3 October 2015 (next to be held in 2019); note - the electoral college was expanded from 129,274 electors in the December 2011 election to 224,279 in the October 2015 election; elections for candidates rather than political parties; 347 candidates including 78 women ran for 20 contested seats in the 40-member FNC; 80,000 voters, or 35% of eligible voters, turned out to vote and 19 men and one woman were elected

election results: elected FNC seats by emirate - Abu Dhabi 4, Dubai 4, Sharjah 3, Ras al-Khaimah 3, Ajman 2, Fujairah 2, Umm al-Quwain 2; note - only 1 woman (from Ras Al Khaimah) won an FNC seat

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Federal Supreme Court (consists of the court president and 4 judges)

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the federal president following approval by the Federal Supreme Council, which includes the rulers of the 7 emirates; judge term NA

subordinate courts: Federal Court of Cassation (determines the constitutionality of laws promulgated at the federal and local (emirate) levels; federal level courts of first instance and appeals courts; each emirate has its own court system

Political parties and leaders

none; political parties are banned

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side; the flag incorporates all four Pan-Arab colors, which in this case represent fertility (green), neutrality (white), petroleum resources (black), and unity (red); red was the traditional color incorporated into all flags of the emirates before their unification

National symbol(s)

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, black, red

National anthem

name: "Nashid al-watani al-imarati" (National Anthem of the UAE)

lyrics/music: AREF Al Sheikh Abdullah Al Hassan/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB

note: music adopted 1971, lyrics adopted 1996; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of Tunisia


Economy - overview

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%.

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. The country's free trade zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors.

The global financial crisis of 2008, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency and ultimately a $20 billion bailout from the UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi-emirate government that was refinanced in March 2014.

Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to take steps to reduce its social spending, including eliminating fuel subsidies in August 2015, but the UAE has sufficient assets to cover its deficits with money from its sovereign investment funds. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on economic diversification and creating more job opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 33/230

$641.9 billion (2015 est.)

$623.2 billion (2014 est.)

$596 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$339.1 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 103/225

3% (2015 est.)

4.6% (2014 est.)

4.3% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 12/230

$67,000 (2015 est.)

$66,300 (2014 est.)

$64,100 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 35/179

27.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

38.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

41.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 55.4%

government consumption: 8.7%

investment in fixed capital: 27.4%

investment in inventories: 0.8%

exports of goods and services: 94.5%

imports of goods and services: -86.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.7%

industry: 49.4%

services: 49.8% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish


petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate 93/202

2.8% (2015 est.)

Labor force 79/233

5.136 million

note: expatriates account for about 85% of the work force (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7%

industry: 15%

services: 78% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate 16/207

2.4% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line

19.5% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $110.1 billion

expenditures: $119.8 billion

note: the UAE federal budget does not account for emirate-level spending in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 77/219

32.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 108/220

-2.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 75/176

52.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

45.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 145/226

3.7% (2015 est.)

2.3% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate


Stock of narrow money 28/192

$130 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$118.7 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 30/193

$343.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$287.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 32/191

$357.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$331.7 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 49/121

$67.95 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

$71.33 billion (31 December 2011)

$77.08 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 21/197

$9.779 billion (2015 est.)

$54.63 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 16/224

$323.8 billion (2015 est.)

$370.6 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates (2012 est.)

Exports - partners

Japan 14.8%, Iran 11.4%, India 9.6%, South Korea 5.7%, China 5.5%, Singapore 5.4%, Thailand 4.5% (2014)

Imports 18/223

$248.2 billion (2015 est.)

$239.8 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food

Imports - partners

China 15.7%, India 13.4%, US 8.9%, Germany 5.3% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 29/170

$79.92 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$78.42 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 38/206

$171.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$167.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 40/120

$126.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$116.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 34/105

$86.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$81.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -

3.67 (2015 est.)

3.67 (2014 est.)

3.67 (2013 est.)

3.67 (2012 est.)

3.67 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 33/220

100.5 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 34/219

93.28 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 97/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 114/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 31/214

27.23 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 41/214

99.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 36/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 156/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 111/212

0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 8/214

2.82 million bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 4/214

2.5 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 152/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 8/215

97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 33/214

487,000 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 29/212

694,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 21/214

364,500 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 19/213

341,700 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 18/216

54.6 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 12/215

66.69 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 26/215

7.4 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 18/214

19.49 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 6/212

6.089 trillion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 27/212

234.1 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 56/219

total subscriptions: 2.1 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 64/217

total: 16.8 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 299 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai

domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable

international: country code - 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia (2011)

Broadcast media

except for the many organizations now operating in Dubai's Media Free Zone, most TV and radio stations remain government-owned; widespread use of satellite dishes provides access to pan-Arab and other international broadcasts (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 13, FM 8, shortwave 2 (2004)

Television broadcast stations

15 (2004)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 61/232

337,804 (2012)

Internet users 63/217

total: 5.2 million

percent of population: 93.2% (2014 est.)


Airports 100/236

43 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 25

over 3,047 m: 12

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 18

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 6

under 914 m: 6 (2013)


5 (2013)


condensate 533 km; gas 3,277 km; liquid petroleum gas 300 km; oil 3,287 km; oil/gas/water 24 km; refined products 218 km; water 99 km (2013)

Roadways 158/223

total: 4,080 km

paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)

Merchant marine 65/156

total: 61

by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 13, chemical tanker 8, container 7, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 24, roll on/roll off 4

foreign-owned: 13 (Greece 3, Kuwait 10)

registered in other countries: 253 (Bahamas 23, Barbados 1, Belize 3, Cambodia 2, Comoros 8, Cyprus 3, Georgia 2, Gibraltar 5, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 1, India 4, Iran 2, Jordan 2, Liberia 37, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 12, Mexico 1, Netherlands 4, North Korea 2, Panama 83, Papua New Guinea 6, Philippines 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 8, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Saudi Arabia 6, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 10, Tanzania 3, Togo 1, UK 8, Vanuatu 1, unknown 8) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Al Fujayrah, Mina' Jabal 'Ali (Dubai), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan), Mubarraz Island, Mina' Rashid (Dubai), Mina' Saqr (Ra's al Khaymah)

container port(s) (TEUs): Dubai Port (12,617,595), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan) (3,234,101)

LNG terminal(s) (export): Das Island

Military and Security

Military branches

United Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Critical Infrastructure Coastal Patrol Agency (CICPA), Land Forces, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense, Presidential Guard (2015)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for compulsory military service for men, optional service for women; 17 years of age for male volunteers with parental approval; 2-year general obligation, 9 months for secondary school graduates; women may train for 9 months regardless of education (2014)

Military expenditures

NA% (2012)

5.5% of GDP (2011)

NA% (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

boundary agreement was signed and ratified with Oman in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah enclaves, but contents of the agreement and detailed maps showing the alignment have not been published; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which Iran occupies

Illicit drugs

the UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE's position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated