Seven small Arab emirates joined together in 1971 to form the UAE. Each emirate is an absolute monarchy ruled by a sheik. The UAE has integrated its economy with the global marketplace, establishing a high standard of living for its people. Two of the emirates—Abu Dhabi and Dubai—hold most of the oil reserves. Abu Dhabi is the capital city and consists of 87 percent of the land area in the UAE. The head of the royal family in this emirate is the head of state for the UAE.
Dubai has turned its small emirate into an international trade center. The emirate uses its oil reserves to promote trade and commerce. The country is planning for the future when the oil runs out. Dubai has a world-class port facility. As a free-trade zone, there are no taxes or tariffs, so international corporations use the location as a trade center to bring high-volume buyers and sellers together.
Laborers and businesspeople from many parts of the world are attracted to the UAE. Noncitizens are 80 percent of the population. About half the noncitizens are from South Asia, and many are Muslims from India. The large number of migrant workers to develop the infrastructure has created an imbalance between the percentage of men and women; there are about twice as many men. Women in Dubai have more rights and opportunities than in conservative Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The UAE has invested its oil income in building infrastructure to compete in a global economy. Huge construction projects are under way in Dubai. Dubai has the world’s tallest structure, the most expensive hotel, the world’s most expensive airport, and the world’s largest artificial islands. It even has an indoor downhill ski resort with real snow.
Source: Arabs, Islam, and Oil: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
By Saylor Academy, CC-BY 3.0