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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 Zaby, '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. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. 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. In March 2011, about 100 Emirati activists and intellectuals posted on the Internet and sent to the government a petition calling for greater political reform, including the establishment of a parliament with full legislative powers and the further expansion of the electorate and the rights of the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE's quasi-legislature. In an effort to stem further unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern Emirates. In late September 2011, an FNC election - in which voting was expanded from 6,600 voters to about 12 percent of the Emirati population - was held for half of the FNC seats. The other half are appointed by the rulers of the Emirates.


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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

Area World Ranking: 115
Total 83,600 sq km
Land 83,600 sq km
Water 0 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries
Total 867 km
Border countries
Oman 410 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 wasteland; mountains in east

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Persian Gulf 0 m
Highest point Jabal Yibir 1,527 m

Natural resources
Petroleum, natural gas

Land use
Arable land 0.77%
Permanent crops 2.27%
Other 96.96% (2005)

Irrigated land
2,300 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
0.2 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 2.3 cu km/yr (23%/9%/68%)
Per capita 511 cu m/yr (2000)

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


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  United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi):

  GPS points from United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi)

Tawi Nagarah Abu Zaby

Wadi Wayqah Al Fujayrah

Umm Hafat Abu Zaby

Balaq Abu Zaby

Rashidiyah Dubayy

Al-mehayyimat Abu Zaby

Sayh Nisuriyah Abu Zaby

Tawi Siji Al Fujayrah
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