History of the United Arab Emirates: Wikis


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The United Arab Emirates was formed from the group of tribally organized Arabian Peninsula sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman.



An eighteenth century watchtower in Hatta

The earliest known human habitation in the United Arab Emirates dated from the Neolithic period, 5500 BCE. At this early stage, there is proof of interaction with the outside world, particularly with civilisations to the north. These contacts persisted and became wide-ranging, probably motivated by trade in copper from the Hajar Mountains which commenced around 3000 BCE.[1] Foreign trade, the recurring motif in the history of this strategic region, flourished also in later periods, facilitated by the domestication of the camel at the end of the second millennium BCE.[2]

By the first century CE overland caravan traffic between Syria and cities in southern Iraq began, followed by seaborne travel to the important port of Omana (perhaps present-day Umm al-Qaiwain) and thence to India was an alternative to the Red Sea route used by the Romans.[3] Pearls had been exploited in the area for millennia but at this time the trade reached new heights. Seafaring was also a mainstay and major fairs were held at Dibba, bringing in merchants from as far as China.[4]

Advent of Islam

The arrival of envoys from the Prophet Muhammad in 630 heralded the conversion of the region to Islam. After Muhammad's death one of the major battles of the Ridda Wars was fought at Dibba, resulting in the defeat of the non-Muslims and the triumph of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

In 637, Julfar (today Ra’s al-Khaimah) was as a staging post for the conquest of Iran. Over many centuries, Julfar became a wealthy port and pearling center from which dhows traveled throughout the Indian Ocean.

Portuguese control

Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean in the early sixteenth century following Vasco da Gama's route of exploration saw them battle the Ottomans up the coast of the Persian Gulf. The Portuguese controlled the area for 150 years in which they conquered the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula.[5] Vasco da Gama was helped by Ahmad Ibn Majid, a navigator and cartographer from Julfar, to find the route of spices from Asia.[6][7]

British and Ottoman rule

Then, portions of the nation came under the direct influence of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century.[8] Thereafter the region was known to the British as the "Pirate Coast", as raiders based there harassed the shipping industry despite both European and Arab navies patrolling the area from the 17th century into the 19th century.[9] British expeditions to protect the Indian trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbours along the coast in 1819. The next year, a peace treaty was signed to which all the sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the "Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce." It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.[10]

Flag of the Trucial Coast

The Treaty of 1892

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the UK with other Persian Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help in case of land attack.[11]

The rise and fall of the pearling industry

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the pearling industry thrived in the relative calm at sea, providing both income and employment to the people of the Persian Gulf. It began to become a good economic resource for the local people. Then the First World War had a severe impact on the pearl fishery, but it was the economic depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s, coupled with the Japanese invention of the cultured pearl, that all but destroyed it. The industry eventually faded away shortly after the Second World War, when the newly independent Government of India imposed heavy taxation on pearls imported from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[12] The decline of pearling resulted in a very difficult era, with little opportunity to build any infrastructure.

The begin of the oil era

At the beginning of the 1930s, the first oil company teams carried out preliminary surveys and the first cargo of crude was exported from Abu Dhabi in 1962. As oil revenues increased, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, undertook a massive construction program, building schools, housing, hospitals and roads. When Dubai’s oil exports commenced in 1969, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the de facto ruler of Dubai, was also able to use oil revenues to improve the quality of life of his people .[13]

Border disputes

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter's dispute with Oman over the Buraimi Oasis another territory to the south.[14] A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE government and is not recognised by the Saudi government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.[15]

Sheikh Zayed and the Union

Al Fahdi Fort in Dubai in th late 1950's.

In the early 1960s, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi, an event that led to quick unification calls made by UAE sheikdoms. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and the British started losing their oil investments and contracts to U.S. oil companies.[16]

The British had earlier started a development office that helped in some small developments in the emirates. The sheikhs of the emirates then decided to form a council to coordinate matters between them and took over the development office. They formed the Trucial States Council,[17] and appointed Adi Bitar, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum's legal advisor, as Secretary General and Legal Advisor to the Council. The council was terminated once the United Arab Emirates was formed.[18]

In 1968, the United Kingdom announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab emirates, but by mid-1971 they were still unable to agree on terms of union, even though the British treaty relationship was to expire in December of that year.[19]

Bahrain became independent in August, and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Shaikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent.[20]

The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai decided to form a union between their two emirates independently, prepare a constitution, then call the rulers of the other five emirates to a meeting and offer them the opportunity to join. It was also agreed between the two that the constitution be written by December 2, 1971.[21]

On that date, at the Dubai Guesthouse Palace, four other emirates agreed to enter into a union called the United Arab Emirates. Ras al-Khaimah joined later, in early 1972.[22][23]

Recent history

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States the UAE was identified as a major financial center used by Al-Qaeda in transferring money to the hijackers (two of the 9/11 hijackers were UAE citizens). The nation immediately cooperated with the U.S, freezing accounts tied to suspected terrorists and strongly clamping down on money laundering.

The country had already signed a military defense agreement with the U.S. in 1994 and one with France in 1995.

The UAE supports military operations from the United States and other Coalition nations that are engaged in the invasion of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) as well as operations supporting the Global War on Terrorism for the Horn of Africa at Al Dhafra Air Base located outside of Abu Dhabi. The air base also supported Allied operations during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Operation Northern Watch.

Death of Sheikhs Zayed and Maktoum

On 2 November 2004 the UAE's first ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, succeeded as ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the constitution, the UAE's Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa as president. Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.[24] In January 2006, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, died, and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum assumed both roles.


  1. ^ "Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey (ADIAS)". Adias-uae.com. http://www.adias-uae.com/. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  2. ^ UAEinteract.com. "More light thrown on Jebel Buhais Neolithic age UAE - The Official Web Site - News". Uaeinteract.com. http://www.uaeinteract.com/docs/More_light_thrown_on_Jebel_Buhais_Neolithic_age/30453.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  3. ^ UAEinteract.com. "UAE History: 2,000 to 200 years ago". UAEinteract. http://www.uaeinteract.com/history/e_walk/con_3/con3_17.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  4. ^ UAEinteract.com. "UAE History: 2,000 to 200 years ago". UAEinteract. http://www.uaeinteract.com/history/e_walk/con_3/con3_1.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  5. ^ portuguese history UAE - Google Search
  6. ^ "NCDR | UAE History | Portuguese Era". Cdr.gov.ae. 2005-01-30. http://www.cdr.gov.ae/ncdr/English/uaeGuide/index.aspx. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  7. ^ "United Arab Emirates History, UAE History, History of the Arabian Peninsula, Arabian Culture". Destination360.com. http://www.destination360.com/middle-east/united-arab-emirates/history. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  8. ^ "Ottoman Empire - History of Ottoman Empire | Encyclopedia.com: Dictionary of Contemporary World History". Encyclopedia.com. 1923-10-29. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O46-OttomanEmpire.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  9. ^ "November 3, 2008 - The UAE is the old Pirate Coast. Not much has changed.". Wayne Madsen Report. http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/articles/20081102_3. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  10. ^ "UK in the UAE". Ukinuae.fco.gov.uk. 2008-05-01. http://ukinuae.fco.gov.uk/en. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  11. ^ Tore Kjeilen (2007-04-04). "Trucial States". Looklex.com. http://looklex.com/e.o/trucial_states.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  12. ^ UAEinteract.com. "UAE History & Traditions: Pearls & pearling". UAEinteract. http://www.uaeinteract.com/history/trad/trd08.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  13. ^ "Middle East | Country profiles | Country profile: United Arab Emirates". BBC News. 2009-03-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/737620.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  14. ^ "United Arab Emirates (06/07)". State.gov. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5444.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  15. ^ "Oil at heart of renewed UAE-Saudi border dispute - Jane's Security News". Janes.com. http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/fr/fr050802_1_n.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  16. ^ "United Arab Emirates - Oil and Natural Gas". Countrystudies.us. http://countrystudies.us/persian-gulf-states/85.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  17. ^ "Al Khaleej News Paper". http://nasibbitar.net/adi_sr/DocumentsArticle4.jpg. 
  18. ^ "Trucial States Council until 1971 (United Arab Emirates)". Fotw.net. http://www.fotw.net/flags/ae_tsc.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  19. ^ "History the United Arab Emirates UAE] - TEN Guide". Guide.theemiratesnetwork.com. 1972-02-11. http://guide.theemiratesnetwork.com/basics/history_of_the_emirates.php. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  20. ^ "Bahrain - INDEPENDENCE". Country-data.com. http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-1021.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  21. ^ "United Arab Emirates: History, Geography, Government, and Culture —". Infoplease.com. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108074.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  22. ^ "Britain's revival and fall in the ... - Google Books". Books.google.ae. http://books.google.ae/books?id=w_qCeBV9IW0C&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&dq=trucial+states+federation&source=bl&ots=n62sG2qGQ6&sig=lMI8go-UOuGkhIEfIRpH9akaJD4&hl=en&ei=bTlBSr2KG6GRjAear4CYCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
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  24. ^ "Middle East | Veteran Gulf ruler Zayed dies". BBC News. 2004-11-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3975737.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 

The crown prince of dubai is currently sheikh hamdan bin mohammad al maktoum.

See also



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