Zayed the founding leader

Glimpses of His Life
When the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan assumed power in Abu Dhabi on 6th August 1966, years of hard work began to develop Abu Dhabi، Petroleum income was utilized for developing public services and infrastructure.
Work began on ambitious projects to change all aspects of life، The late Sheikh Zayed used to say, “Money is not useful if it is not dedicated for serving the people.”
A few years after Sheikh Zayed assumed power, Abu Dhabi witnessed major developments in record time with hundreds of building, construction, modernization, development and service projects that included the construction of houses, modern residential compounds, hospitals, clinics, schools, universities, institutes, colleges and infrastructure such as roads, bridges, electricity, water, communication and transportation in order to build a modern country and provide a decent life for citizens.
The amount of spending on growth, services and development projects in Abu Dhabi from1968 until the end of 2002 exceeded AED 162 billion. The total amount allocated for growth during this period amounted to AED 195 billion which demonstrates an unprecedented commitment to using the resources of the country and its oil returns to build a prosperous country for citizens’ happiness.
Sheikh Zayed dedicated himself to making his people happy. He travelled all over the country supervising building and construction, moving between the suburbs, villages, deserts and villages leading an exceptional challenge to catch up with civilization and modernization. During the years of his reign, enormous achievements and drastic changes were achieved in projects including; building, industrial, agricultural, educational, health, cultural and social. A solid and modern infrastructure was completed.
Building the Union
The efforts of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan were not limited to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Since he assumed power in Abu Dhabi he aimed to unite the other Emirates. Less than two years after he became the Ruler of Abu Dhabi he initiated a call to unite the Emirates saying, “Unity is the way to strength, honour and power. Division only leads to weakness. There is no place in today’s world for weak entities. These are the lessons of history throughout the ages.”

This wise and honest call was favourably received and there was a meeting between the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in the area of Al Samha on 18th February 1968 following the declaration made by the British Government in that year about evacuating its armies from the Conciliated Emirates in the Gulf before 1971.

The meeting focused on establishing a union between the two emirates to supervise foreign affairs, defence, internal security and health and educational services. They agreed to invite the rulers of the other Emirates to a meeting in Dubai to discuss the establishment of the United Arab Emirates, a union between the nine emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and also Bahrain and Qatar.

The result of the meeting was that the call for Union was launched. It was supported by Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid. The rulers of the other Emirates responded favourably to this honest call and held another meeting between 25th and 27th February 1968 in Dubai. It resulted in the establishment of the union, the United Arab Emirates.

There followed continuous meetings, gatherings and consultations between the Rulers until the conclusive meetings were held from 11-15 October 1969 in which it is agreed to execute the Dubai agreement, to formally declare the establishment of the United Arab Emirates. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was elected at the President and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum was elected as the Vice President.

On 18th July 1971, the Rulers’ Council of the Union held an important meeting in Dubai where they approved the federal state, called the United Arab Emirates, in response to the wish of the people in the region.

On the 2nd December 1971, history witnessed the birth of a modern state. It joined the Arab Countries League on 6th December 1971, becoming its eighteenth state and only a week after its establishment it became the 132nd member of the United Nations on 9th December 1971. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the union on 10th February 1972. Immediately upon the declaration of the union, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed al Nahyan offered to dedicate all the Government of Abu Dhabi’s material sources and administrative and technical expertise to serve the federal state. He said, “The union is my wish and the highest goal I seek for the people of the Emirates.”

The late Sheikh Zayed said that the goal of the Union was to bring happiness to the citizens and build the modern state, “From the beginning we realized that the union is the means to our strength and progress and the way to make people happy, provide a decent life for them and for future generations with Allah’s will. We also realized that we cannot achieve this goal except under a well rooted and firmly founded federal state that realizes the past with all its lessons, lives the present with all its achievements and prosperity and moves towards a future, taking Islam as the methodology of its internal and external policy to establish the state, root its pillars and reach a decent life that we all look forward to and seek.”


Since the moment the federal state was establishment, the wheels turned in one of the largest development marches witnessed by the region. Since the day he assumed power, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dedicated the wealth of the country’s progress and improvement of the citizens’ living standards saying, “We dedicated everything we own in terms of wealth and petroleum to improving the living standard of every person in the United Arab Emirates out of our belief that these people are the rightful owners of this wealth and that he should make up what he missed in order to catch up with the march of civilization and progress.”

The late Sheikh Zayed added that, “If Allah the Almighty had favoured us with wealth, our first commitment to seek Allah’s satisfaction and in order to express our gratitude to Him is to utilize this wealth by making this country better and to bring goodness to its people.”

A few years after its establishment, the United Arab Emirates became a modern and prosperous country where its citizens enjoy luxury and prosperity, as confirmed by the statement of His Highness that, “Hopes came true thanks to the establishment of the United Arab Emirates. Progress and prosperity was achieved in every area.”

He added that, “We did not dream of all these achievements. They are beyond imagination and the speed of this growth is exceptional.”

The way Sheikh Zayed led the march towards union has had a clear effect; his manner is rooted in the conscience of the nation and is clear to all citizens.

On several occasions, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan expressed his relief about the achievements of the union saying, “We, thanks to Allah, feel relieved and happy as the union continues its march on the right path, the way the United Arab Emirates is moving from one phase to another until it became the source of pride for all of us, seeing such achievements on the soil of our country.”

His Highness said, “Everything that I and my brothers the rulers of the emirates spent long nights caring about and being patient about, was achieved. With Allah’s help and grace, we have reached a stage where we are securely on the road to building the country and achieving goals that seemed hard to reach.”

The ‘Counsel’ Approach

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan believed in seeking counsel as his way of leading the national effort. He said, “Ruling with counsel is a command from Allah and he who does not obey Allah shall be the loser.”

His approach comes from his belief in, and reliance on, Allah the Almighty in every step. His Highness said, “My philosophy in life is that I believe that all things are in the hands of Allah the Almighty and that man should act as if inspired by his belief in Allah; with dedication and diligence. If I succeed in my quest, I thank Allah for His grace and if I was mistaken in my diligence, I return to the right path. Everything runs according to the will of Allah the Almighty, He runs and manages our lives. The worshipper should seek the approval of Allah, to act and rely on Allah. Allah guides men to success when the belief of man in his God is strong. Allah grants him peace of mind and that is the ultimate happiness.”

The ‘counsel approach’ that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan adopted was illustrated by his strong desire, during the regular field trips he made all over the country, to hold open and direct meetings with citizens at their workplaces, deserts and residences. This facilitated the deep and honest closeness between the leadership and the people. His Highness used to emphasize the importance of this approach, which is based on an ‘open door’ policy between the ruler and his subjects, by saying, “Our door is open and shall always be like that.”

His Highness said, “The ruler should meet the members of his people continuously and there should be no barriers between him and them under any circumstances.”

His Highness continued, “The ruler, any ruler, is only there to serve his people and secure for them prosperity and progress. To achieve this, he should live among his people to feel their wishes and know their problems and this cannot be achieved if he isolates himself from them.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan was keen for his children, the citizens, to participate in assuming the responsibilities of the national effort. He said, “When the ruler is self-assured and confident, he gives the opportunity to his sons and brothers the officials to assist him to achieve what is best for the country.”

Sheikh Zayed adds that, “Our goal in life is to achieve justice, be morally right and support the weak against the dominant. We are not cautious about our children’s participation in the responsibility of ruling, as long as these are our goals. We think that our duty is to distribute responsibility among the citizens, and we did this just as Islam calls for true democracy and justice.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan made himself the example for officials by his keenness to follow-up projects’ achievements and by the continuous closeness with citizens, to feel their wishes and needs away from government offices and official reports. He said, “I want officials to see me with their own eyes at work, at any time, without preparation so that every official shall follow this path in order to reach efficiency and capability for the State.”

Developing People

The keenness of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to develop people the same way as the country was built, represented the most important achievement of the United Arab Emirates. It was based on his conviction that people are at the centre of real progress and that the UAE relies on educated people, “We realized from the beginning that the human being is the basis of every civilized process and he is at the centre of every true progress.”

The United Arab Emirates worked on building an infrastructure including hospitals, schools, higher education establishments, institutes, cultural and professional centres and military, academic and technical establishments necessary to achieve this noble goal and to provide all appropriate conditions to enable the sons of the UEA to bear their national responsibilities. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan specified the goal saying, “Wealth is not money wealth but the wealth of men as they are; the true power that we are proud of. This is the plant that provides us with shade. The conviction of this truth is the reason why we were able to direct all our efforts to developing people and dedicating the wealth that Allah graced us with to serve the children of this country in order to enable them to bear their formidable responsibilities and be the support that helps us and our brothers.”

He continued, “I always said, with strong conviction, that the human being is the basis of civilization and to direct our attention to him is necessary because he is the centre of every progress. No matter how many facilities there are, schools, hospitals, bridges and otherwise, all of this remains a materialist entity without a soul because the soul of all of this is the human being who is able, with his thought, effort and faith to achieve the progress we seek.”

He said, “Progress and renaissance is not measured by buildings of cement and steel but by developing people and everything that makes the citizen happy and secures him a decent life.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan expressed his relief that the continuous efforts to develop people were successful and the children of the UAE today are assuming responsibility for work done all over the country. He said, “We had harvested a lot and harvested what the citizen, the friend or the brother did not imagine and the best thing that we harvested in this country is developing people who we prioritize with attention and care.”

With Sheikh Zayed’s approach, citizens are the means and the end at the same time. To establish this principle, all the agencies and bodies in the country joined together to develop people capable of dealing with the paths of true development and able to overcome obstacles, especially the major ones.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said on the 13th February 1972, “The constitution of the country provided for the principles of equality and social justice and the provision of security and assurance, equal opportunities for all citizens, solidarity and compassion, to consider the family as the basis and structure of society, morality and love for the country, caring for childhood and motherhood, protecting minors and disabled people who are not capable of taking care of themselves, providing jobs for citizens, qualifying them for such jobs, protecting private and public property, to consider the wealth and natural resources of every Emirate as public property for that Emirate and to encourage cooperation and saving.”

Sheikh Zayed made developing people the first priority in the development process in its early stages. He said, “Developing people is a national necessity that takes precedence over building factories and facilities because without good people no prosperity and goodness can be achieved. Now we are developing a future generation that we will be proud of and that will bear the burdens of responsibility in the future.”

Care for Youth

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan gave considerable attention to taking care of youth. He was always keen to invite them to equip themselves with knowledge so that they could contribute to serving the country. He urged them to have a good understanding of the past and the difficult conditions and hardships that faced their fathers and grandfathers so that they could maintain the accomplishments and gains that had been achieved. He urged young people to work, in all fields of work, to consider work an honour and duty. He said, “Work is important and valuable as long as it contributes to developing people. The progress of nations is only achieved at the hands of their children.”

On several important occasions in the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed used to say, “The vast wealth that has been achieved will not last without more effort, giving and sacrifices. We should work hard in order to protect our national gains and enhance the march of our union. We should work hard to achieve more strength for the country and prosperity for the citizen. This is not possible without constructive and active participation in society.”

He added, “National work is not limited. It is your responsibility, the male and female youth of the UAE, to employ the chances that you have been given for the sake of your country and people. We view the concept of citizenship as loyalty to the country and commitment to work for it.”

Sheikh Zayed said, “The material facts you see on the land of your country did not come from nothing and its growth does not only go back the last three or four decades. These facts represent the cultural and social heritage that was rooted in us. They reach to us from our fathers and grandfathers who faced great hardships, beyond imagination. We owe them all our abilities to build, our seriousness to work and our determination to succeed. Therefore, we always say that the nation that does not understand and comprehend its past and does not take examples and lessons from it shall not be able to deal with the challenges of the present and prepare for the future.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the importance of the wide participation of the people in the country’s comprehensive development. He said, “We continue working with all our might and ability at all official and non-official levels in order to maintain our gains and achieve more accomplishments for the good of our people and country. However, we look forward to real participation from all sons and daughters of the Emirates, an active participation in the comprehensive development process with its political, economic, social and cultural aspects. The future is in your hands, Emirates youth, you will determine the way it will be. Take the chance available to you now and use it wisely. Use it in a manner that brings goodness for you, your families and your country as well.” 

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan called on organizations to give more attention to youth saying, “We call upon all government, private and national organizations to place more importance on youth programmes to prepare them for the future, to benefit from successful human experiences and follow the lead of our own successful achievements, our roots and the values and principles that we inherited.

Although we have come an admirably long way training and qualifying our male and female youth, there is still a real need to continue and intensify this training and qualification. We think that bringing our male and female youth into the field of fruitful work is the goal that we should dedicate all our abilities to achieve and we should prepare for them the means to ensure that achievement as much as possible.

This requires us to continue modernizing our educational curriculums and follow up the latest developments in science and technology. Our programmes must be equal to this.”

Concern about Women’s Development and Their Role in Society

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan placed special care on the development of women, “Women are half of society, she is the house keeper and no country that is building itself can leave women in the darkness of ignorance and in the captivity of oppressive chains.”

With this vision, women started taking full responsibility next to men in various fields of work. They actively contributed to the economic, social and cultural changes. They enjoyed equal rights and duties whilst in compliance with the teachings of the proper Islamic religion, the gracious Islamic Sharia and inherited customs and traditions.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said, “We have the right to speak proudly about the great accomplishments that women have achieved in our country and the enhancement of her social and economic role in the public and private sectors. We continue to be very keen to provide all assistance and support to women in everything that may enhance her role in society and increase the scope of her participation in the comprehensive development process.

We are pleased to note that women in the Emirates have shown unique determination in this regard as we see her embracing all kinds of scientific fields with remarkable enthusiasm that became an example to be followed. We also see her working efficiently and actively in the public and private sectors, while continuing to play her main role in the family. Family represents the nucleus of society and deserves from us all every care and attention. She is committed to raising her children in a good manner based on our spiritual and religious values and our genuine heritage.”

The late Sheikh Zayed confirmed that, “All fields of work are open for women in the Emirates just like men.” He pointed out that women have taken significant steps on the path to distinguished participation in national work. The General Women’s Union – under the inauguration of Her Highness Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak, “Emirates’ Mother”, endeavours to stimulate the role of women in society, increase their participation in development and their representation at Arab and International forums.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan supported women to hold the highest positions at work; in decision making positions and in politics. He encouraged women to fully participate serving her country, including becoming involved in political work. He said, “I’m for women. I always say this to confirm her right to work and fully participate in building her country.”

In addition, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan focused on all sectors of society, especially the disabled and those with special needs. He was keen to provide them with any facilities that enabled them to participate in society.

The Environment and Its Protection

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan cared about the environment. He believed that there needed to be a balance between developing and preserving the environment to protect the right of future generations to enjoy life in a clean, healthy and safe environment. He said, “We give our environment our utmost attention because it is a vital part of our country’s history and heritage. Our fathers and grandfathers lived on this land to preserve it, they only took from it what they needed and left what future generations will use as a source and spring of giving.”

The late Sheikh Zayed added, “We have worked, since the establishment of our state, to protect the environment and wildlife. We have developed regulations, legislation, programs and projects that made the United Arab Emirates among the first states that cared for the environment and an example to be followed at the global level.  These achievements should be an incentive for us, particularly the Emirati youth, the future generation, to continue taking care of and keeping the environment safe and clean because if we don’t, we shall destroy the resources that Allah blessed us with، these resources are not ours alone, they also belong to our children and their children.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was one step ahead of the world in taking care of the environment and this is manifested by his words, “Our care for the environment is not new but it is a genuine and deep-rooted care that we have called for, practiced and implemented years before the rest of the world started to do so.”

In his opening speech at the 2nd Asian Ministerial Conference of those Party to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification held in Abu Dhabi in June 2003, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said: “The United Arab Emirates was able to live with a desert environment that covers three quarters of its area, and adapt to its limited resources for many years. Thanks to the efforts of the devoted sons of the Emirates, the State was able to overcome the hard conditions and achieve what the experts considered to be impossible. The green area started to expand and the desert retreated before it.”

He added, “The proof is very clear as seen in the vast areas of forest, farms, parks and millions of trees and plants of all types that are increasingly and continuously taking shape amidst the desert lands. This demonstrates the huge effort that has been made and the greatness of the achievement that has been achieved.”

Over three decades, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan was a supporter of sustainable development and the planting of 100 million trees and 45 million palm trees in the Emirates to stop sand encroaching into agricultural lands. This is considered one of Sheikh Zayed’s most important achievements.

Taking care of environmental issues gained the United Arab Emirates a global reputation and prominent international position particularly in the field of maintaining the environment, combating desertification, development of wild and marine life, establishment of natural reservations, encouragement and support of international research to save various types of rare animals from extinction worldwide such as the Oryx, Arabian tiger, sea cows and green turtles in addition to advanced programs utilizing the latest technology in the reproduction of wild birds including falcons and bustards.

The United Arab Emirates received several appreciation certificates and awards from international and regional organizations for its distinguished efforts in the field of preservation and development of the environment.

It was chosen as the headquarters for the ‘General Secretariat of the Coordination Body of the International Fund for Maintaining the Environment in Order to Protect the Oryx’. It was also elected in 2000 to the position of Chairman of the Sea Turtles Group for the West Indian Ocean Area that is attached to the Global Federation for the Protection of Nature as an appreciation for its role helping endangered sea turtles.

Agriculture and Forestation

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan implemented his vision for agriculture and forestation by allocating vast areas of land to establish ambitious projects for forests and green areas. These would protect the wildlife which revived the desert environment and stopped desert encroachment. His vision contributed to the interest of citizens in agriculture and their connection to their lands.

In this regard he said, “We succeeded in transforming the land of this country although we were told that it was not fit for agriculture. We developed farms spreading to the horizon, green parks, forests and production plantations.”

Sheikh Zayed expressed his pride in what the Emirates had achieved in agriculture and forestation and said, “What makes us proud is that the United Arab Emirates was able to achieve amazing success in returning greenery to the desert areas and our success was not limited to planting vast areas of the desert but also with agriculture. Through extensive awareness campaigns, guidance, training and continuous and limitless support we were able to enforce the mutual giving relationship that exists between the land and the citizen who became more keen to possess, manage and develop agricultural lands.”

On 2nd June 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations awarded Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the “Medal of International Day of Food” in recognition of his efforts to serve all of humanity.

Several international bodies commended the achievements of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in combating desertification and the protection of rare species of animals and plants.


Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s care for humans extended to other parts of the world. He established an award bearing His Highness’s name for the best global moral and human culture.

International bodies commended the initiative of Sheikh Zayed to allocate a US$150,000 award to be granted every two years to encourage human creativity in all fields and to protect and encourage heritage in all its forms; the best folklore and traditional cultural works and also to protect intangible cultural works threatened with loss.

Since his early childhood, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was connected to desert life, its environment and culture. This formed his close connection with his culture. He said, “Our ancestors left for us a great deal of folklore that we should be proud of. We need to maintain and develop it, make it an asset for this country and for future generations.”

In his gatherings with youth and citizens, he used to emphasize the necessity to be familiar with civic culture, to remember it and follow its example. He said, “Youth should ask  and think about history, whether it was recent, medium-term or ancient history, in order to know what happened in this country and how past generations lived. I believe that those who do not know their history certainly do not know their present but if a person knows his past then he will be aware of his present and know how he should prepare for the future”. He added, “Any nation without a cultural heritage does not have a beginning or end.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his brothers Their Highnesses the Members of the Supreme Council of the Union, the Rulers of the Emirates, all offered support to folk sports such as genuine Arab camels races, folk marine races, horsemanship and falconry.


Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan placed great importance on maintaining the sport of falconry because it is one of the most important sports that sons inherited from fathers and grandfathers in the Gulf and Arab Peninsula Area.  For a long time Emiratis have had an excellent knowledge of the different kinds of falcons, the best way to breed them, train them and look after them well, the way to tame this symbol of power and self-pride.

The late Sheikh Zayed spoke about the fact that Arabs were the first with this knowledge and then this knowledge moved other countries saying, “We are keen on maintaining genuine traditions and our heritage regardless of how far we have stepped towards the field of civilization. Falconry is an important sport and a way to learn patience and endurance. It is useful both psychologically and physically. It is a social sport full of companionable group spirit. In addition, this sport has its traditions; the speed of falcons and their ability to fly, manoeuvre, hunt or charge to feed.”

In September 2001, the “Emirates Falconers Club” was establishment under the chairmanship of H.H Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister who confirmed that falconry is considered one of the most important Arab sports practiced by their ancestors thousands of years ago. The club aims to spread awareness and improve falconry in the United Arab Emirates and the Arab Gulf area, to maintain this sport as an important heritage in the region and to spread the morality of falconry sport. The club aims to educate about the types, habits, life phases, original habitat and migration of falcons, passing on the heritage of the grandfathers to future generations in order to ensure the continuity of this hobby in the correct way that prevents exposing falcons and bustards to extinction.

Arab and Islamic Solidarity

For over three decades Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan devoted all his efforts towards achieving agreement between brothers, to solve Arab differences by understanding and forgiveness. His Highness emphasized continuously the danger imposed by the continuation of the state of division and deterioration that the Arab nation is going through, “Since the beginning of difference in the Arab world until this day, I did not sleep one night happy about the difference between a brother, a friend and his friend.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan made extensive efforts to bring Arabs together, forgetting differences, unifying the Arab and Islamic world, improving the position of the Arab and Islamic nation and its position in the world.

The late Sheikh Zayed was always keen to get all points of view on the Arab position and make decisions about all the various things happening in the Arab world. He rejected the mindset of loss by using reason and making a conscious effort to compensate the losses that the Arab nation had suffered in order to support their common interests. He said, “The Arab nation is large, wealthy and good, thanks to Allah. We should bear the responsibility and abandon the path of loss and weakness that we are following now and we should endeavour, with every possible effort and without delay, to compensate the losses we suffered and follow the right path.”

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said that the United Arab Emirates supports anything that enhances the Arabic reputation. He said that this needs to happen with hard work, an honest brotherly spirit and a sense of forgiving and conciliation particularly after the lessons and losses that the Arab nation has suffered.

The way Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dealt with regional and international issues was considered to be correct. His decisions were made with wisdom, frankness, courage and standing steadily with truth. Justice and forgiveness guided his decisions in order to include human values in international relations and whatever brings goodness to humanity.

Zayed’s Departure

When Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan passed away in November 2004, the world lost one of its most important, wise men. He had worked to improve people and countries and did everything he could for humanity as a whole.

He was succeeded by the Late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to continue the march of progress by following in the footsteps of his father “Zayed (increaser of) goodness”.

Emirates Today

Since the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, the Emirate model has seen to be unique. The State achieved unprecedented achievements in the field of development, diversification of the economy, development of government services and building whilst at the same time the State established the values of holding on to, developing and taking pride in cultural heritage.

Developing people is considered the foundation of the State’s strategy.  The Emirate’s Vision 2021 says, “Every Emirati citizen makes a valuable contribution to the growth of his country by increasing his knowledge and investing his skills in innovation.” And, “The values of justice, equality and the spirit of solidarity in our culture support our efforts to increase the living standards of citizens. The State tries to achieve balance in the social and economic development of the Emirates and to provide main services and facilities so there should be no isolated or neglected areas. The advanced infrastructure and high quality transportation services accelerates growth and builds bridges between civil communities. Integrated planning and execution of policies guarantees that social and economic development all over the Emirates is balanced, sustainable, prudent and efficient”.
The United Arab Emirates is considered the only successful unification project so far in the whole Arab world and wider region. This success was as a result of adopting a clear strategy for developing the Emirati people. In December 2006, the first democratic elections were held in the United Arab Emirates to elect half the members of the Federal National Council.

The Emirates is considered one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic countries.  It chose electronic development in order to facilitate performance and people’s lives. The Emirates has successfully attracted foreign investment by providing good infrastructure, services, hotels and treatment facilities and modern communications. It has big plans and programs for strategic projects some of which will require the participation of the public and private sectors.

The State’s foreign policy is based on fixed rules and clear principles of mutual respect and a ‘good-neighbour’ policy. The State places exceptional emphasis on the special relationship between the brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arabic world in general. The UAE continues to call and work to enforce the joint Arab Act, the Arab League and its special organizations.
The United Arab Emirates follows a defence policy that requires it to update its defence capabilities; as a result it has made several arms deals.

On the 6th May every year the armed forces celebrate the anniversary of their unification. This event represents a very important turn of events that ensures the success and continuity of the march of the Union.

At the economic level, the Emirates’ performance witnessed remarkable development during recent years. Growth rates in all economic sectors were a result of several factors including the increase in oil prices, diversification policies, policies to broaden the economic base and sources of income, and the launching of several projects which reflected positively on GDP growth.
The State was able to overcome the effects of the economic crisis. H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai confirmed this in a speech delivered at an investment conference in Dubai on the 19th November 2009 when he said that the darkest clouds of the crisis had vanished. His Highness pointed out that the consequences of this crisis will not discourage the UAE from trying to achieve its future aspirations and its determination to maintain its pioneer position in the region.
The following is from the 2010 National Media Council United Arab Emirates year book.

Geography and Population

Emirates Economy

The Seven Emirates

The United Arab Emirates comprises seven Emirates located in the south east of the Arabian Peninsula. The unique character of each Emirate comes from its remarkable history and rich heritage. The integration of each of the seven Emirates with the other contributes a unified single country.

Abu Dhabi
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf between the two latitudes 22.5 and 25 north and the two longitudes 51 and 55 east. It is the largest of the seven Emirates with an area of about 67,340 sq. km., 86.7% of the total area of the country without the island. Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE. The population of the emirate is 1,399,484 according to the 2005 census. Abu Dhabi comprises three major areas; the city of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain region and Al Dhafra region.
Abu Dhabi city is the capital of the UAE. It is the seat of the President, the Cabinet and most of the ministries, federal establishments and foreign embassies. Port Zayed, Abu Dhabi International Airport and most of petroleum companies, facilities and commercial markets are in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Corniche and its parks and fountains are considered one of the aesthetic landmarks of the city. Al Ain region, has very fertile land full of greenery, farms and parks and an abundance of natural water that flows through underground channels and wells. Ain Al Faida Parks, Jebel Hafit, Al Hili Games Park, the Zoo and Al Ain Archaeology Museum are among its major landmarks.

Zayed City is the capital of the Western Area. It includes many forests planted to fight desertification and has 100,000 hectares of woods that includes about 20 million trees. There are some land petroleum fields and the petroleum refinery in Al Ruwais. There are many islands attached to the Emirate including: Das, Mebraz, Zarko and Arzana. These are the major sea petroleum fields in addition to the islands of Dalma, Saadiyat, Abul Abyad and Ser Bani Yas.

Dubai is located on the coast of the Arabian Gulf. It is about 72 km long with an area of about 3,885 sq. km which is about 5% the UAE without the islands. The population of the Emirate is about 1.4 million. Despite its fast economic development, Dubai continued to be attached to its heritage. It is now known as a cosmopolitan community that simultaneously maintains a culture and civilization deeply rooted in the Islamic traditions of the Arabian Peninsula. Read more about it in, ‘Dubai, the Past’.
Dubai city is the capital of the emirate. It is divided into two parts by a gulf called Dubai Creek. The southern part is known as “Bur Dubai” and it represents the centre of official activity: It is the location of the Ruler’s Court, most company head offices, banks, custom offices and Port Rashid. The northern part is known as “Deira”. It is the centre of commercial and tourist activity including shops, markets, schools, hotels, clubs and Dubai International Airport.
An area called Jebel Ali is considered one of the most important commercial and industrial areas in the country. It accommodates the largest free zone in the Gulf and has the Dry Dock, Jebel Ali Port and Dubai Aluminium Factory. Among the major tourism landmarks in the emirate are the areas of Hatta, Al Awir and Khawanij. Read more about, Dubai Today.

There are a number of luxury hotels in Dubai that cater for the needs of visiting tourists and businessmen. In the restaurants of these hotels you find a microcosm of the world’s cuisines. There are also hundreds of small restaurants spread all over the city, convenient for all tastes and budgets.
In addition to traditional markets, there are several modern shopping centres spread all over the city where you can find all kinds of international brands at reasonable prices. The ‘Dubai Shopping Festival’ is held annually and has become a well-known international event, gathering people from all over the world to benefit from the competitive sale prices, raffles, shows and promotional activities.

The Emirate of Sharjah lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf. It is over 16 km in length and extends inland more than 80 km. There are three areas attached to the emirate on the east coast overlooking the Gulf of Oman; Kalbaa, Khor Fakkan and Daba Al Hosn.
The area of the Emirate is 2,590 sq. Km, equivalent to 3.3% of the UAE without the islands. According to the December 2005 Census, its population is 793,573. Sharjah city is the capital of the emirate. It overlooks the Arabian Gulf and is the where H.H. the Ruler lives and is where you can find all government departments, companies, banks and hotels.

The city is known for its commercial markets and the way its buildings are designed in Islamic style. It includes several amusement and entertainment areas such as Al Qasbaa Channel, Al Jazeera Games Park and the Lake Corniche. The city is also characterized by a large number of high minarets.
Sharjah has an airport and port: Sharjah International Airport and Port Khalid. There are some oases inland; Al Dhaid Area is known for its fertile lands and includes many farms producing large quantities of vegetables and agricultural products. The Eastern Area overlooks the coast of Oman, the city of Khor Fakkan is attached to the Emirate and it has an important sea port. The islands of Abu Mousa and Sir Bu Naer are also attached to the Emirate.
Cultural and educational monuments give Sharjah the true image of a modern city that stays close to its history and traditions. The historic, natural, archaeological and heritage museums are witnesses to a period of time that affected modern Sharjah and made it a lighthouse for everyone who wished to obtain more of that distinctive cultural and historic wealth.
In 1998, UNESCO chose Sharjah as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World. This was the crowning achievement for intensive efforts made by H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the Union, Ruler of Sharjah that made Sharjah the cultural capital of the Gulf and Arabic regions. Sharjah New Arts Museum has a rare selection of historic art pieces of great importance to the history of the United Arab Emirates.
Sharjah’s strategic location has contributed to flourishing international navigation during the last 65 years. It extends through the shores of the Gulf of Oman and also vast areas of valleys and mountains. The city of Sharjah has numerous hotels overlooking its beaches and the banks of Khalid Lake and there are several restaurants, gardens and parks.


The Emirate of Ajman lies on the cost of the Arabian Gulf. It is 16 km long between the Emirate of Sharjah and the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain. The area of the emirate is about 259 sq. km, 0.3% of the UAE without its islands. Its population was 206,997 according to the December 2005 Census.
The city of Ajman is the capital of the Emirate and it lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf. It contains the Ruler’s residence, government departments, companies, banks and trading markets. Ajman Port is located on a natural creek that passes through the city.
Although Ajman has become a modern city that provides up to date services and facilities, it maintained its old traditional style. It combines the achievements of modern times and the charms of a long history. The magical beaches of Ajman with their fresh air, peace and quiet and clean water provide various marine activities that attract many sea lovers.
Massfout is an area attached to Ajman and is located about 110 km to the south east. It is known for agriculture as the soil is fertile, valleys are wide and the climate is moderate, making it a tourist attraction. Massfout is distinguished by its charming nature, vast valleys and the surrounding mountains add an amazing beauty to the area.
Ajman Fort is one of the country’s archaeological landmarks. It dates back to the eighteenth century and shows life in different eras. The Fort has been restored and transformed into a museum containing archaeological samples and showing past people’s possessions, industries and traditional professions as well as images from their old social life.
Umm Al Quwain

The Emirate of Umm Al Quwain lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf for about 24 km between Sharjah in the west and Ras Al Khaimah in the East and it is about 32 km wide. The area of the emirate is about 777 sq. km, 1% of the UAE without the islands.
The population of Umm Al Quwain is 49,159 according to the December 2005 Census. The city of Umm Al Quwain is the capital of the emirate. It lies on a deep creek that is 2m wide and about 5km long and is where the Ruler lives. All government departments, companies, banks and trading markets are in the city as well as Port Saqr and the Marine Life Research and Breeding Centre that helps in the development of the country’s fisheries.
Falaj Al Mualla is attached to the emirate, about 50 km to the south east of the city of Umm Al Quwain. The name Falaj Al Mualla is derived from Al Falaj (water channel). The water comes from underground springs and the mountains running along the side of the valley. There is an abundance of agriculture in Falaj Al Mualla due to the fertility of the land and availability of fresh water.
The Scenic Island is about 1 km from the city with an area of 90 sq. km and is attached to the emirate. The island is a natural reserve for deer and sea birds and there are lots of Crimea trees.
Along the Umm Al Quwain coast, on the south east side of the Arabian Peninsula, is the ruins of the oldest city in the area, Al Door, which flourished two thousand years ago. Excavations carried out by archaeologists have revealed stone houses, graves, pottery and Egyptian and Syrian glass.
Ras Al Khaimah

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf. It is about 64 km long and more than 128 km wide. The area of the Emirate is about 1684 sq. km, 2.2% of the UAE without the islands. The population of the Emirate was 250,000 according to the December 2005 Census. Ras Al Khaimah shares a mountain border with the Sultanate of Oman in the south and north east. There are several islands in the Gulf waters. The main ones are the two islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs which are attached to the Emirate. 
The city of Ras Al Khaimah is the capital of the Emirate. It is divided into two parts by a tongue of water called Ras Al Khaimah Creek. The western part is known as Old Ras Al Khaimah where the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah and some government departments are located. The eastern part is known as Al Nakheel and it includes the Ruler’s Court, some government departments and commercial companies. The two parts are connected by a large bridge that crosses the Creek to facilitate movement between them.
Among the important areas in the Emirate there is the Khor Khowair Industrial Area that is about 25 km to the north and is known for several important industries such as cement, rocks and marbles. The main exporting port, Port Saqr is also here.
The Ras Al Khaimah National Museum contains a rare and diversified collection of ancient archaeological items that goes back to different historic eras. The museum also contains some human remains that go back to the Third Thousand Year BC and the ruins of Shommal Colonies. There are also other archaeological ruins including the conic towers used for watching and reconnaissance especially on the coastal strip.
The Emirate has abundant archaeological ruins such as Julfar City, Dhay Fort and Al Ghaf Valley. The Emirate is known for its location, mountains, beaches, agricultural areas and the hot natural springs in the resort of Ain Khit that people visit for therapeutic purposes.

The Emirate of Fujairah is distinguished from the other Emirates in the country because it is located on the Gulf of Oman and off the Hormuz Strait. Its shores extend along the Gulf of Oman for 90 km and are of strategic importance.
The area of the Emirate of Fujairah is 1165 sq. km, 1.5% of the UAE without the islands. It population was 125,698 according to the December 2005 Census. The city of Fujairah is the capital of the Emirate and is where the Court of H.H. the Ruler, government departments, commercial establishments and companies can be found.
Fujairah Port is also located in the city. The port is central to marine shipping and both the port and Fujairah International Airport are important for commercial activity in the emirate. Fujairah is distinguished by a series of rough mountains that limits the eastern coastal plane between the Emirate and the Gulf of Oman and it is considered one of the most fertile areas in the country with a large number of farms.
Fujairah enjoys tremendous tourism potential due to the existence of shores that extend on the coastal line, high mountains adjacent in many areas to the sea shore, natural valleys and water channels with marvellous scenery. The important areas in the Emirate include Daba Al Fujaira which has agriculture and livestock projects and is also known for fishing.
Fujairah heritage village is located next to the Ain Madab Park. It represents the region’s ancient history with all of its features and details including old houses, cutlery and food tools that our ancestors used and the old irrigation methods used to water the farms by using oxen. The Fujairah Museum contains archaeological and old cultural items that were discovered in Fujairah going back to 4500 BC.
Al Bidya Mosque, also known as Othman Mosque, is considered the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It is known for its unique design represented by its four small domes on the mosque’s roof.

Facts and Figure

The United Arab Emirates is a federal state comprising seven Emirates namely: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. 

-Name of State: The United Arab Emirates 

-Capital: Abu Dhabi 

-National Day: 2nd December (the union was formed on 2nd December 1971 

-Timing: + 4 hours GMT 

-Local Currency: AED - Arab Emirates Dirham

-Exchange Rate: One US$ equals AED 3.67. The AED has been officially connected to the US$ since February 2002.

-Flag: Equal horizontal rectangular lines. The top stripe is green, white is in the middle, black below and from the flagpole side there is a red rectangle.

-Geographical Location: The United Arab Emirates is located on the south east side of the Arabian Peninsula. It is almost a rectangular shape. Its coasts form the southern and south eastern sides of the Arabian Gulf and a side of the western coasts of the Oman Gulf.

-Location as per latitude and longitude: The United Arab Emirates is located between the 22 and 26.5° north latitude north and 51 and 56.5° east longitude.

-Area: About 83,600 km2; a little larger than Scotland. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi occupies about 87% of the total area of the country.

-Coastal Strip: The coastal strip was about 1,318 km long before the execution of several new building projects.

-Relief: Low coastal plain connected with the sand dunes of the Rub’ Al Khali desert with rough mountains along the northern borders with Oman.

-Maximum height and points below sea level: The highest point is located on Yabir Mountain within the Hajir Mountains and is 1,627 m.

-Natural Resources: The main natural resources are petroleum and natural gas. More than 90% are located in Abu Dhabi.

-Climate: The Emirates has a desert climate that is warm and sunny in winter and hot and humid in summer. The climate is more moderate and less humid in the eastern mountains.

-Political Regime: The Emirates is a federal state with sovereign authorities determined by the constitution. Other authorities are locally controlled by each Emirate.

-Constitution: It was adopted temporarily on 2nd December 1971 and it passed permanently in 1996.

-President: H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

-Vice President, Prime Minister: H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai.

-Deputy Prime Minister: H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Minister of Finance.

-Deputy Prime Minister: H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior.

-Deputy Prime Minister: H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Court.

-Cabinet: Cabinet members are nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President.

-Legal System: In addition to the federal courts system, all emirates have civil courts to deal with criminal and civil commercial cases and Sharia courts to deal with issues of Sharia including heritage and marriage.

-Foreign Aid: In 2009, the Government and donation organizations (about 37 organizations) granted AED 2.80 billion (US$ 0.76 ) foreign aid in addition to other commitments amounting to AED 2.81 billion (US$ 0.77 ). The foreign aid coordination office was established in 2008 for the documentation of foreign aid. It issued its first report in 2010. The volume of foreign aid given by the UAE since the establishment of the State on 2nd December 1971 amounted to AED 163 billion as a total that the office stated as not final.

-Participation in International Organizations: The United Arab Emirates participates in many international and regional organizations including: Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Arab Fund for Arab Social and Economic Development, Arab Monetary Fund, Economic Unity Council, CICA, International Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Seventy Seven Group, Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Bank of Rebuilding and Development, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Islamic Development Bank, International Agricultural Development Fund, International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Islamic Conference Organization, Non-Aligned Movement, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Arab Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries (AOPEC), ANECTAD Organization, ((ITSO, IPU, IRENA, PCA)) Organization.

-Size of Population (2010 estimate): 8.6 million. 

-Official Language: Arabic.

-Religion: Islam. Other religious beliefs are allowed to be practised with full freedom.

-Classification in the UN Human Development Index (2011): The United Arab Emirates held the first position in the Arab world and 32nd worldwide amongst 169 countries listed in the Human Development Report 2010. The regional issue was launched by the United Nations Development Program on 13th December 2010 in Abu Dhabi. The report classified the UAE as one of only two countries in the region classified in the most advanced class, ‘Very High Human Development’. The UAE held the fourth position worldwide amongst the least poor countries. The poverty average did not exceed (0.0002%). The UAE held the first position regionally and 45th worldwide amongst 138 countries in the index ‘Equality between sexes in the fields of health, education, empowerment and participation in the work force’.

-Total GDP per capita: US$ 174,000.

Most private sector companies work six days a week.

-Financial Year: 1st January to 31st December.

-Actual Growth of GDP (2010, nominal): AED 3.2%. 

-Actual Growth of GDP (2011, nominal): AED 3.3%.

-Non-Oil Sector Contribution to GDP (2011): 71%. 

-Industries: Oil, gas, aluminium, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship maintenance, petrochemicals, building materials, medicines, foods, tourism and financial services.

-Oil Production Capacity (Estimates 2010): 878 million barrels a day. 

-Confirmed Oil Reserves: 98 billion barrels 

-Natural Gas Production: 4.8 million standard sq. m/day 

-Confirmed Natural Gas Reserves: 227.1 trillion cubic meters 

-Total Exports (2010): AED 669.5 billion 

-Total Imports (2011): AED 496.2 billion 

-Agricultural Products: Dates, feedstock, vegetables, fruits, livestock, poultry, eggs, dairy products and fish. 

-Communications: A flourishing market with a developed infrastructure and technically advanced 

-International Communication Code: 971 

-Internet Code: .ae 

-Number of mobile phone subscribers (2011): 12.26 million 

-Information Technology and Communications: The Global Economic Forum classified the UAE as 24th in the world and the first among Arab countries in using information technology and communications to enhance competitiveness and development.

-Number of internet subscribers (2010): 3,777,900

-Sea Ports: 15 ports including these main ports: Khalifa Port (under construction), Zayed Port, Jebel Ali Port, Rashid Port, Fujairah Port, Khor Fakkan Port, Saqr Port and Sharjah Port.

-International Airports: 7

-News Agency: Emirates News Agency (WAM)

The Union Of The Emirates