While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are on every tourist’s list, we don’t know much about the United Arab Emirates and their sheikhs.
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras-al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain and Fujairah. Each of these emirates (coming from the word emir meaning prince, governor, commander etc.) is ruled by a royal family.
Abu Dhabi is ruled by Al Nahyan royal family, Dubai by Al Maktoum, Al Qasimi family rules Sharjah and Ras-al-Khaimah, Al Nuaimi family rules Ajman, Al Mualla family rules Umm Al Quwain and Al Sharqi rules Fujairah.
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late sheikh of the Al Nahyan family was the founder of the United Arab Emirates. HE was its first president. Before we move on to the history of the UAE, let’s know the names of the current Sheikhs of the seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi : Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sharjah: Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi
Ras al-Khaimah: Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi
Ajman: Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi
Umm Al Quwain: Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’alla
Fujairah: Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi
UAE has strong historical ties with the Ottomans and Portuguese who occupied the land.
The UAE shares borders with Oman in the East, Saudi Arabia in the South, Qatar in the West and Iran in the North. It was established on December 2, 1971. The sheikhdoms were known as the ‘Trucial states’ as the British called the south-eastern side of the Persian gulf as the pirate coast back in the 1800s.
The ships of the British were raided along the Persian gulf to prevent this from happening, consequently various treaties were signed between the British and sheikhdoms to combat piracy. Later on, the bonds between the British and the sheikhdoms grew stronger when the ambitions of other countries like France and Russia were rising. An exclusive treaty was signed between the sheikhs and British where it was agreed that the British would give protection to the gulf while the sheikhs would not enter into relationship with any foreign government.
However, later on due to multiple reasons the British ended the relationship with the sheikhdoms in 1966, they couldn’t protect the area anymore. Later on when the treaty expired in 1971, the UAE was formed, they were independent.
According to a website giving a brief account of UAE’s history, The Portuguese settlers occupied the country; expanding their territories to the Indian Ocean and eventually to the Arabian Peninsula. They were successful in conquering the inhabitants of the peninsula, with 150 years of control of the country. The Ottoman Empire was the next to control the country. The British regarded the region as the “Pirate Coast” because of harassments of shipping industries by the raiders. Furthermore, a treaty was signed, the “Trucial Sheikdoms”, forming the unity of the sheiks and an agreement to settle disputes among sheiks. In July 17, 1971, the six trucial states, the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ajman, and Fujairah agreed on the Federal Constitution for the independence as the United Arab Emirates. Eventually, in December 2, 1971, the seventh sheikhdom joined the UAE and finally conjuring to the formation of the United Arab Emirates.”
It is still a very common practice to not to take the names of female members in the UAE’s royal families. While a lot of information is available about the male family tree, the female side is unknown.
The UAE has been criticised for a bad human rights record. It continues to remain a tourism hotspot, generating revenue mainly from tourism, oil and natural gas reserves. The emirates follow Islam.
SOME QUICK MIND-BLOWING FACTS ABOUT UAE:
1. People living above the 80th floor in UAE have to wait for two minutes more than usual to break their fast as they can see the sun for a longer period of time than those below them.
2. The police fleet of UAE consists of Mercedes, Lamborghini, Bentley and a Ferrari to nab those who are speeding in powerful cars.
3. Dubai has no zip codes, area codes. If a parcel is to be sent, proper directions have to be written with landmarks.
4. Despite the name ‘United Arab Emirates’ the area has only 13% of Arabs. The population is dominated by Indians and Pakistanis.
5. The iconic Chrystler building in Manhattan is entirely owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi!
UAE is a fascinating country that has a civilisation which is very different from the rest of the world.