Formed in 1971, the United Arab Emirates originally consisted of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. A seventh state, Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) joined the federation in 1972. Each emirate has its own ruler and royal family.
The rulers of the seven emirates make up the Federal Supreme Council. This council elects the country's president and vice president. The country's prime minister (head of government) is appointed by the president.
The first president of the UAE was the emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Since Sheikh Zayed's death in 2004, his son Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been the UAE's president and head of state. The current vice president, Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the prime minister.
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Sheikh Mohammed in 2008
Photo © World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Photo by Norbert Schiller
Photo source: World Economic Forum's photostream
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With United Strength: Shaikh Zayid Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Leader and the Nation by Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. An in-depth study of the birth of the United Arab Emirates, based largely on unpublished historical records and documents.
The United Arab Emirates: A Study In Survival by Christopher M. Davidson. Provides a detailed historical background, and also examines the UAE's political structure and socioeconomic development. Published in 2005.
The Emirates of Yesteryear by Ronald Codrai. Previously published as "The Seven Shaikhdom," this is an account of the UAE's birth, with photos taken in the 1940s and 1950s.
A Century in Thirty Years: Shaykh Zayed and the United Arab Emirate edited by Joseph A. Kechichian. Scholarly papers on the history, politics, economics and sociology of the United Arab Emirates. Sometimes available.
Phoenix Rising: The United Arab Emirates Past, Present & Future by Michael Asher, photos by Werner Forman. A photographic exploration of the United Arab Emirates, which in just 25 years has made the transition from a quasi-medieval existence to wealthy, vibrant nation. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
From the Desert to the Derby by Jason Levin. Inside the ruling family of Dubai's billion-dollar quest to win America's greatest horse race. From Alibris.
United Arab Emirates by Byron Augustin. A children's book from the Enchantment of the World series. For ages 9 to 12.
United Arab Emirates by Lisa McCoy. About the nation and its strategic place in the world. For young adult readers.
Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond by Christopher M. Davidson. Tracks Abu Dhabi's growth from a modest 18th century sheikhdom to its present opulent state, the ruling family's efforts to retain their power, and current challenges to Abu Dhabi's success.
From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi by Mohammed Al Fahim. An account of the struggles that accompanied Abu Dhabi's development into modern nation, written by an eye-witness to the hardship of life in the emirates a generation ago.
City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism by Jim Krane. Delves into the city's history and paints an intimate portrait of the ruling Maktoum family.
Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success by Christopher Davidson. Looks at Dubai's history, monarchy, and relationship with its federal partners in the UAE.
Dubai: Gilded Cage by Syed Ali. Its rulers have made Dubai into a worldwide brand, publicizing its astonishing hotels and downplaying its suppression of dissent.
My Early Life by Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi. First part of the autobiography of the ruler of Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates. It documents dramatic palace coups in Sharjah and the neighbouring emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, and power struggles during the formation of the UAE.
Taking the Reins: The Critical Years, 1971-1977 by Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi. The emir of Sharjah talks about the emergence of the United Arab Emirates and his early days as a ruler.
UAE Federal Government (official site)
CIA World Factbook - United Arab Emirates
Wikipedia - United Arab Emirates
UAE Government - Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, President
Wikipedia - Abu Dhabi
Wikipedia - Ajman
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (official site)
Wikipedia - Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Twitter - HH Sheikh Mohammed (official account)
YouTube - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed
Wikipedia - Fujairah
The Official RAK Government Portal
Wikipedia - Sharjah
Wikipedia - Umm al-Quwain