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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates, federation of emirates in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, bordered in the north by the Persian Gulf, in the east by the Gulf of Oman, in the south by Oman, in the south and west by Saudi Arabia, and in the northwest by Qatar. It comprises Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain. The city of Abu Dhabi is the capital. The indigenous population is Arab, and Arabic is the official language. Islam is the state religion, and most of the people are Sunni. The majority of inhabitants, however, are foreign workers, mostly from Asia. The country has a 400-mi (644-km) coastline and is mostly desert. In the east mountains rise to over 8,000 ft (2,438 m), giving way to a fertile coastal strip where dates, grains, and tobacco are cultivated. Herding, fishing, and pearling were the traditional occupations, but since the 1960s the country and its economy have been dominated by oil. The large oil income and small native population have made the Emirates one of the world's richest countries. Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate, is the site of the bulk of the oil production, but Dubai and Sharjah are significant oil exporters, too. Historically, the Emirates were dominated by Britain, to which they were bound by a formal truce (1820) that gave them the name Trucial States. After World War II, Britain granted the Trucial States autonomy. At that time they included Qatar and Bahrain, which chose separate statehood when the United Arab Emirates was formed as an independent state (1971). In 1981, the Emirates and other Gulf countries founded the Gulf Cooperation Council. During Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, the Emirates worked closely with the allied forces. In 1992, Iran confiscated 3 small islands off the coast. The Emirates received military aid from the United States, France, and the GCC-countries. The Emirates supported the peace agreements between Israel and Palestine and terminated the indirect economic boycot of Israel (1994).


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