The World Factbook (1990)/United Arab Emirates

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United Arab Emirates

World Factbook (1990) United Arab Emirates.jpg

See regional map VI


Total area: 83,600 km²; land area: 83,600 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries: 1,016 km total; Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 586 km, Qatar 20 km

Coastline: 1,448 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: defined by bilateral boundaries or equidistant line
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 3 nm

Disputes: boundary with Qatar is in dispute; no defined boundary with Saudi Arabia; no defined boundary with most of Oman, but Administrative Line in far north; claims three islands in the Persian Gulf occupied by Iran (Jazīreh-ye Abū Mūsá or Abū Mūsá, Jazīreh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg or Greater Tunb, and Jazīreh-ye Tonb-e Kūchek or Lesser Tunb)

Climate: desert; cooler in eastern mountains

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

Natural resources: crude oil and natural gas

Land use: NEGL% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 2% meadows and pastures; NEGL% forest and woodland; 98% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: frequent dust and sand storms; lack of natural freshwater resources being overcome by desalination plants; desertification

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


Population: 2,253,624 (July 1990), growth rate 6.0% (1990)

Birth rate: 31 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 3 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 33 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 24 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 69 years male, 73 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Emirian(s), adjective—Emirian

Ethnic divisions: 19% Emirian, 23% other Arab, 50% South Asian (fluctuating), 8% other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians); less than 20% of the population are UAE citizens (1982)

Religion: 96% Muslim (16% Shi'a); 4% Christian, Hindu, and other

Language: Arabic (official); Farsi and English widely spoken in major cities; Hindi, Urdu

Literacy: 68%

Labor force: 580,000 (1986 est.); 85% industry and commerce, 5% agriculture, 5% services, 5% government; 80% of labor force is foreign

Organized labor: trade unions are illegal


Long-form name: United Arab Emirates (no short-form name); abbreviated UAE

Type: federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE central government and other powers reserved to member shaykhdoms

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Administrative divisions: 7 emirates (imārāt, singular—imārah); Abū Ẓaby, ‘Ajmān, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shāriqah, Dubayy, Ra’s al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn

Independence: 2 December 1971 (from UK; formerly Trucial States)

Constitution: 2 December 1971 (provisional)

Legal system: secular codes are being introduced by the UAE Government and in several member shaykhdoms; Islamic law remains influential

National holiday: National Day, 2 December (1971)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Supreme Council of Rulers, prime minister, Council of Ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral Federal National Council

Judicial branch: Union Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan Al NUHAYYAN of Abu Dhabi (since 2 December 1971); Vice President Shaykh Rashid bin Sa‘id Al MAKTUM of Dubayy (since 2 December 1971;

Head of Government—Prime Minister Shaykh Rashid bin Sa‘id Al MAKTUM of Dubayy (Prime Minister since 30 April 1979); Deputy Prime Minister Maktum bin Rashid al MAKTUM (since 2 December 1971)

Political parties and leaders: none

Suffrage: none

Elections: none

Communists: NA

Other political or pressure groups: a few small clandestine groups are active

Member of: Arab League, CCC, FAO, G-77, GATT (de facto), GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Abdullah bin Zayed AL-NAHAYYAN; Chancery at Suite 740, 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20037; telephone (202) 338-6500; US—Ambassador Edward S. WALKER, Jr.; Embassy at Al-Sudan Street, Abu Dhabi (mailing address is P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi); telephone [971](2) 336691; there is a US Consulate General in Dubai

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a thicker vertical red band on the hoist side


Overview: The UAE has an open economy with one of the world's higher levels of income per capita. This wealth is based on oil and gas, and the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities. Since 1973, when petroleum prices shot up, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. At present levels of production, crude oil reserves should last for over 100 years.

GNP: $23.3 billion, per capita $1 1,680; real growth rate -2.1% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5-6% (1988 est.)

Unemployment rate: NEGL (1988) Budget: revenues $3.5 billion; expenditures $4.0 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1989 est.)

Exports: $10.6 billion (f.o.b., 1988 est.); commodities—crude oil 75%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates; partners—US, EC, Japan

Imports: $8.5 billion (c.i.f., 1988 est.); commodities—food, consumer and capital goods; partners—EC, Japan, US

External debt: $11.0 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -9.3% (1986)

Electricity: 5,590,000 kW capacity; 15,000 million kWh produced, 7,090 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: petroleum, fishing, petrochemicals, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, pearling

Agriculture: accounts for 1% of GNP and 5% of labor force; cash crop—dates; food products—vegetables, watermelons, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish; only 25% self-sufficient in food

Aid: donor—pledged $9.1 billion in bilateral aid to less developed countries (1979-89)

Currency: Emirian dirham (plural—dirhams); 1 Emirian dirham (Dh) = 100 fils

Exchange rates: Emirian dirhams (Dh) per US$1—3.6710 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 2,000 km total; 1,800 km bituminous, 200 km gravel and graded earth

Pipelines: 830 km crude oil; 870 km natural gas, including natural gas liquids

Ports: Al Fujayrah, Khawr Fakkān, Mīnā’ Jabal ‘Alī, Mīnā’ Khālid, Mīnā’ Rāshid, Mīnā’ Şaqr, Mīnā’ Zāyid

Merchant marine: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 728,332 GRT/1,181,566 DWT; includes 14 cargo, 7 container, 2 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 20 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 4 bulk

Civil air: 8 major transport aircraft Airports: 40 total, 34 usable; 19 with permanent-surface runways; 8 with runways over 3,659 m; 5 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 4 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: adequate system of radio relay and coaxial cable; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubayy; 386,600 telephones; stations—8 AM, 3 FM, 12 TV; satellite earth stations—1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT, 2 Indian Ocean INTELSAT and 1 ARABSAT; submarine cables to Qatar, Bahrain, India, and Pakistan; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; radio relay to Saudi Arabia

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Central Military Command, Federal Police Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 904,690; 498,082 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: $1.59 billion (1987)