The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Dhabi, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. The UAE essentially avoided the "Arab Spring" unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East in 2010-11 and in an effort to stem potential unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates and aggressively pursued advocates of political reform. The UAE in recent years has played a vital role in regional affairs. In addition to donating billions of dollars in economic aid to help stabilize Egypt, the UAE is a member of a US-led global coalition to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and a coalition partner in a Saudi-led military campaign to restore the government of Yemen.



Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

24 00 N, 54 00 E

Map references

Middle East


total: 83,600 sq km
land: 83,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than South Carolina; slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries

total: 1,066 km
border countries (2): Oman 609 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km


1,318 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


desert; cooler in eastern mountains


flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert; mountains in east


mean elevation: 149 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 4.6%
arable land 0.5%; permanent crops 0.5%; permanent pasture 3.6%
forest: 3.8%
other: 91.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

923 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

frequent sand and dust storms

Environment - current issues

lack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8%


5,927,482 (July 2016 est.)
note: the UN estimated the country's total population was 9,267,000 as of mid-year 2016; immigrants make up almost 85% of the total population, according to 2015 UN data (2016)


noun: Emirati(s)
adjective: Emirati


Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu


Muslim (official) 76%, Christian 9%, other (primarily Hindu and Buddhist, less than 5% of the population consists of Parsi, Baha'i, Druze, Sikh, Ahmadi, Ismaili, Dawoodi Bohra Muslim, and Jewish) 15%
note: represents the total population; about 85% of the population consists of noncitizens (2005 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.94% (male 634,996/female 605,985)
15-24 years: 13.53% (male 476,813/female 324,982)
25-54 years: 61.27% (male 2,767,886/female 863,816)
55-64 years: 3.23% (male 142,661/female 48,715)
65 years and over: 1.04% (male 38,444/female 23,184) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 17.8%
youth dependency ratio: 16.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 1.3%
potential support ratio: 74.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 30.3 years
male: 32.1 years
female: 25.1 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.47% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

15.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

11.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

population is heavily concentrated to the northeast on the Musandam Peninsula; the three largest emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah - are home to nearly 85% of the population


urban population: 85.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.87% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Dubai 2.415 million; Sharjah 1.279 million; ABU DHABI (capital) 1.145 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.47 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 3.2 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 2.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.69 male(s)/female
total population: 2.18 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

6 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.5 years
male: 74.8 years
female: 80.2 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.33 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

3.6% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

2.53 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 99.6% of population
urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 98% of population
rural: 95.2% of population
total: 97.6% of population
urban: 2% of population
rural: 4.8% of population
total: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

34.5% (2014)

Education expenditures



definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 93.1%
female: 95.8% (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 12.1%
male: 7.9%
female: 21.8% (2008 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: United Arab Emirates
conventional short form: none
local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
local short form: none
former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States
abbreviation: UAE
etymology: self-descriptive country name; the name "Arabia" can be traced back many centuries B.C., the ancient Egyptians referred to the region as "Ar Rabi"; "emirates" derives from "amir" the Arabic word for "commander," "lord," or "prince"

Government type

federation of monarchies


name: Abu Dhabi
geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

7 emirates (imarat, singular - imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra's al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn


2 December 1971 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 2 December (1971)


previous 1971 (provisional); latest drafted in 1979, became permanent May 1996; amended 2009 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of Islamic law and civil law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of the United Arab Emirates; if the father is unknown, the mother must be a citizen
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 30 years


limited; note - rulers of the seven emirates each select a proportion of voters for the Federal National Council (FNC) that together account for about 12 percent of Emirati citizens

Executive branch

chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Vice President MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan, MANSUR bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (both since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the Federal Supreme Council - composed of the rulers of the 7 emirates - for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held 3 November 2009 (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan reelected president; FSC vote NA
note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the 7 emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets 4 times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the 7 constituent states and 20 indirectly elected by an electoral college whose members are selected by each emirate ruler proportional to its FNC membership; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 3 October 2015 (next to be held in 2019); note - the electoral college was expanded from 129,274 electors in the December 2011 election to 224,279 in the October 2015 election; elections for candidates rather than political parties; 347 candidates including 78 women ran for 20 contested seats in the 40-member FNC; 80,000 voters, or 35% of eligible voters, turned out to vote and 19 men and one woman were elected
election results: elected FNC seats by emirate - Abu Dhabi 4, Dubai 4, Sharjah 3, Ras al-Khaimah 3, Ajman 2, Fujairah 2, Umm al-Quwain 2; note - only 1 woman (from Ras Al Khaimah) won an FNC seat

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Federal Supreme Court (consists of the court president and 4 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the federal president following approval by the Federal Supreme Council, which includes the rulers of the 7 emirates; judges serve until retirement age or the expiry of their appointment term
subordinate courts: Federal Court of Cassation (determines the constitutionality of laws promulgated at the federal and local (emirate) level; federal level courts of first instance and appeals courts; each emirate has its own court system

Political parties and leaders

none; political parties are banned

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Yusif bin Mani bin Said al-UTAYBA (since 25 July 2008)
chancery: 3522 International Court NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 243-2400
FAX: [1] (202) 243-2432
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara A. LEAF (since 30 December 2014)
embassy: Embassies District, Plot 38 Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, Abu Dhabi
mailing address: P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi
telephone: [971] (2) 414-2200
FAX: [971] (2) 414-2603
consulate(s) general: Dubai

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side; the flag incorporates all four Pan-Arab colors, which in this case represent fertility (green), neutrality (white), petroleum resources (black), and unity (red); red was the traditional color incorporated into all flags of the emirates before their unification

National symbol(s)

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, black, red

National anthem

name: "Nashid al-watani al-imarati" (National Anthem of the UAE)
lyrics/music: AREF Al Sheikh Abdullah Al Hassan/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB
note: music adopted 1971, lyrics adopted 1996; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of Tunisia


Economy - overview

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%.

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spe

The global financial crisis of 2008-09, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Du

Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to take steps to reduce its social spending, including eliminating fuel subsidies in August 2015, b

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$667.2 billion (2016 est.)
$652.4 billion (2015 est.)
$627.6 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$375 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.3% (2016 est.)
4% (2015 est.)
3.1% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$67,700 (2016 est.)
$68,100 (2015 est.)
$67,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

20.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
25.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
38.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 61.1%
government consumption: 9.3%
investment in fixed capital: 29.7%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 81.5%
imports of goods and services: -82.3% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.7%
industry: 44.6%
services: 54.7% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish


petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate

0.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

5.242 million
note: expatriates account for about 85% of the workforce (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

2.4% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line

19.5% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $90.13 billion
expenditures: $113 billion
note: the UAE federal budget does not account for emirate-level spending in Abu Dhabi and Dubai (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

24% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

60.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
51.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.4% (2016 est.)
4.1% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate


Stock of narrow money

$129.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$124.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$337.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$327.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$387.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$370.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$195.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$201.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$180.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

$4.244 billion (2016 est.)
$12.31 billion (2015 est.)


$316 billion (2016 est.)
$333.3 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates (2012 est.)

Exports - partners

Iran 14.5%, Japan 9.8%, India 9.2%, China 4.7%, Oman 4.3% (2015)


$246.9 billion (2016 est.)
$243.9 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food

Imports - partners

China 15.7%, India 12.8%, US 9.7%, Germany 6.8%, UK 4.4% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$84.93 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$93.93 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$220.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$204.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$132.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$126.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$94.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$90.86 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -
3.673 (2016 est.)
3.673 (2015 est.)
3.673 (2014 est.)
3.673 (2013 est.)
3.67 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 177,824
electrification - total population: 98%
electrification - urban areas: 99%
electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

Electricity - production

103 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

96 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

28 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

99.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

2.82 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

2.637 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

98 billion bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

503,200 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

744,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

384,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

365,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

54.24 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

66.32 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

8.066 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

20.14 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

6.091 trillion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

245 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,208,425
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 38 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 17.943 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 310 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber-optic and coaxial cable
international: country code - 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian (2015)

Broadcast media

except for the many organizations now operating in Dubai's Media Free Zone, most TV and radio stations remain government-owned; widespread use of satellite dishes provides access to pan-Arab and other international broadcasts (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 5.274 million
percent of population: 91.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 12
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 498
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 84,738,479
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.647 billion mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

A6 (2016)


43 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 25
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 18
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 6 (2013)


5 (2013)


condensate 533 km; gas 3,277 km; liquid petroleum gas 300 km; oil 3,287 km; oil/gas/water 24 km; refined products 218 km; water 99 km (2013)


total: 4,080 km
paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)

Merchant marine

total: 61
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 13, chemical tanker 8, container 7, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 24, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 13 (Greece 3, Kuwait 10)
registered in other countries: 253 (Bahamas 23, Barbados 1, Belize 3, Cambodia 2, Comoros 8, Cyprus 3, Georgia 2, Gibraltar 5, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 1, India 4, Iran 2, Jordan 2, Liberia 37, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 12, Mexico 1, Netherlands 4, North Korea 2, Panama 83, Papua New Guinea 6 (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Al Fujayrah, Mina' Jabal 'Ali (Dubai), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan), Mubarraz Island, Mina' Rashid (Dubai), Mina' Saqr (Ra's al Khaymah)
container port(s) (TEUs): Dubai Port (12,617,595), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan) (3,234,101)
LNG terminal(s) (export): Das Island


Military branches

United Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Critical Infrastructure Coastal Patrol Agency (CICPA), Land Forces, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense, Presidential Guard (2015)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for compulsory military service for men, optional service for women; 17 years of age for male volunteers with parental approval; 2-year general obligation, 9 months for secondary school graduates; women may train for 9 months regardless of education (2014)

Military expenditures

NA% (2012)
5.5% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

boundary agreement was signed and ratified with Oman in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah enclaves, but contents of the agreement and detailed maps showing the alignment have not been published; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which Iran occupies

Illicit drugs

the UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE's position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated