The United Arab Emirates at a glance

Nov 02, 2004 01:00 AM

The United Arab Emirates, one of the world's richest countries, is composed of seven emirates, each with its own ruler. It has a combined population of more than 3.4 mm, about 75 % of whom are expatriate labourers and executives.
Here are some facts and figures about each emirate:

Abu Dhabi
The largest and richest of the seven emirates, Abu Dhabi has been transformed dramatically since oil production was introduced in the 1960s. The capital was a collection of huts clustered around the ruler's fort 40 years ago; it is now a modern metropolis of more than 1 mm, with high-rises, tree-lined streets and lush parks.
Abu Dhabi is among the Arab world's largest oil producers, with reserves expected to last another 200 years.

Dubai
The second-richest emirate, it grew from a small trading port in the 1950s to the region's trading hub.
With oil reserves due to run out by 2010, Dubai is putting an infrastructure into place to earn the major portion of its revenues from trade. Dubai's ports are among the most efficient in the world and its airport among the busiest in the region. Dubai hosts world-class tennis, golf, rugby and horse racing events, and the ruling Al Maktoum family owns some of the world's best race horses.

Sharjah
The third-largest emirate, with a population of about half a million, it is a manufacturing centre and the cultural capital of the UAE. Its ruler, Sheik Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, holds a doctorate from Exeter University in England and is the most educated of the seven emirate leaders.
In ancient times, trade with the Persians and the Indian subcontinent was Sharjah's way of life. It was home to the great Qawasim seafaring tribe, before it was destroyed by the British in 1819. In the 1960s, before oil was found, Sharjah was a bustling port.

Ajman
The smallest emirate in territory, with a population of about 160,000, it has been ruled by Sheik Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi since the death of his father in 1981.
Ajman's pearling industry was its mainstay before it was virtually destroyed in the 1930s by competition from Japan. Without oil and gas, Ajman has remained largely a fishing village. Dhows, the wooden boats that ply the Persian Gulf, are still built in Ajman by traditional craftsmen.

Umm Al-Quwain
Its name means "Mother of the Powers," a reference to the long seafaring history of this largely fishing village of some 40,000 residents.
Dhow building is the only other real industry. But it has the same public services as its richer emirates, largely through the largesse of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It has been ruled by Sheik Rashid bin Ahmad Al Mualla since 1981.

Ras Al-Khaimah
It was called Julfar when it was one of the ports of call for Marco Polo on his journey east in 1272. Today, its population of less than 40,000 live tranquil lives according to traditions unchanged for generations. Fishing and dhow building are still important, but the economy largely survives on the generosity of the emirate's richer neighbours.
In 1997 it signed an $ 18 mm oil drilling contract. No oil has yet been found. Sheik Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, who has ruled since 1948, is the world's longest-serving ruler.

Fujairah
With a population of 88,000, Fujairah is home to several small industries and is a farming and fishing centre. Vegetables and flowers are grown in huge environmentally controlled greenhouses.
Bull fighting is Fujairah's national sport, but unlike in Spain, it is bloodless. Two bulls wrestle until one flees, and the animals are pampered by their owners. Fujairah has an international airport, a free trade zone, and an oil refinery. It has been ruled for more than a century by the Al Sharqi family. The current ruler is Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.

Source: AP
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