The United Arab Emirates is comprised of seven emirates,
which occupy the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
Each emirate, unique and rich in tradition, is an essential
component necessary for making up the whole.
Emirate of Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, by far the largest emirate, is ruled by the
Al Nahyan family. It occupies 67,340 square kilometres
or 86.7% of the total area of the country. The emirate
is primarily a vast desert area with about two dozen
islands in the coastal waters, including the island where
the city of Abu Dhabi is located, plus six sizeable islands
further out in the Arabian Gulf. The population of the
emirate is concentrated in three areas: the capital city,
Abu Dhabi; Al Ain, an oasis city located near the Hajar
Mountains; and the villages of the Liwa oases. Traditionally,
the population along the coast relied on fishing and
pearling for their livelihood, whilst those in the hinterland
relied on date plantations and camel herding. Through
remarkable leadership and personal commitment, His Highness
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has developed Abu Dhabi
into an influential, fully modernised state.
Emirate of Dubai
Dubai, the second largest of the seven emirates, is ruled
by the Al Maktoum family. It occupies an area of approximately
3,900 kilometres, which includes a small enclave called
Hatta, situated close to Oman, amongst the Hajar Mountains.
Dubai, the capital city, is located along the creek,
a natural harbour, which traditionally provided the basis
of the trading industry. Pearling and fishing were the
main sources of income for the people of Dubai. Under
the wise leadership of its rulers, Dubai's focus on trade
and industry transformed it into the leading trading
port along the southern Gulf. His Highness Sheikh Maktoum
bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the current ruler of Dubai.
Emirates of Sharjah
Sharjah, which shares its southern border with Dubai, is
ruled by the Al Qasimi family. It is approximately 2,600
square kilometres and is the only emirate to have coastlines
on both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. In the
nineteenth century the town of Sharjah was the leading
port in the lower Gulf. Produce from the interior of
Oman, India and Persia arrived there. Sharjah's salt
mines meant that salt constituted an important part of
its export business, along with pearls. In the 1930s
when the pearling industry declined and trade decreased
due to the creek silting up, Imperial Airways' flying
boats set up a staging post for flights en route to India,
benefited the residents of Sharjah. Today, under the leadership
of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is the
cultural and educational centre of the UAE and takes pride
in preserving the country's cultural heritage as well as
promoting Arab culture and traditions.
Emirate of Ajman
Ajman is the smallest emirate, comprising only 260 square
kilometres. It is ruled by the Al Nuami family. Surrounded
mostly by the emirate of Sharjah, Ajman also possesses
the small enclaves of Manama and Musfut in the Hajar
Mountains. Along the creek dhow building was the specialised
trade. Fishing and date-trees provided the local population
with their primary means of sustenance. Ajman benefited
greatly from the union of the emirates, a fact that is
reflected today in their stately buildings and infrastructure.
Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuami has been the ruler
Emirate of Umm Al Qaiwain
Umm Al Qaiwain is ruled by the Al Mualla family. It is
the second smallest emirate, with a total area of around
770 square kilometres. Positioned between the emirates
of Sharjah and Ajman to the south and Ras Al Khaimah
to the north, Umm Al Qaiwain has the smallest population.
Fishing is the local population's primary means of income.
Date farming also plays a significant role in the economy.
After the union of the emirates in 1971 Umm Al Qaiwain
developed into a modern state, and continues to progress
under its present ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mualla.
Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah, the most northerly emirate, is ruled by
another branch of the Al Qasimi family. It covers an
area of 1,700 square kilometres. Thanks to the run-off
water from the Hajar Mountains, Ras Al Khaimah has a
unique abundance of flora, so it is no surprise that
agriculture is important to the local economy. The emirate
also benefits from its stone quarries, and fishing, which
is plentiful in the rich waters of the Gulf. The city
of Ras Al Khaimah, situated on an inlet, has a rich history.
It was renowned for its prosperous port and for its exquisite
pearls, which were famous as being the whitest and roundest
available anywhere. Ras Al Khaimah's current ruler is
Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
Emirate of Fujairah
The only emirate without a coastline on the Arabian Gulf
is Fujairah, which is ruled by the Al Sharqi family.
Situated along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, Fujairah
covers about 1,300 square kilometres. Unlike other emirates,
where the desert forms a large part of the terrain, mountains
and plains are its predominant features. Fujairah's economy
is based on fishing and agriculture. Like Ras Al Khaimah,
the land in Fujairah is irrigated by rainwater from the
Hajar Mountains, making it ideal for farming. Sheikh
Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi is the present ruler.