The United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971 as a result of the union of seven monarchies. Each emirate is led by a sheikh who is the absolute ruler ofhis state. In the late 1960’s the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, proposed the creation of a federation consisting of the 7 emirates but Bahrain and Qatar were not yet independent. Negotiations eventually led to the independence of Bahrain and Qatar and the federation of seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates was complete with Ras al-Khaimah joining in 1972. As stated in their constitution, the individual emirates are politically, legally and economically autonomous. The Federal National Council operates solely as an advisory body.Abu Dhabi was initially the poorest emirate until it began to export oil in 1962 when it soon turned into the wealthiest sheikhdom. In 1966, Dubai, already flourishing with trade and services, finds oil in its subsoil. Using the proceeds from Abu Dhabi’s oil industry, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan adopted economic and social development policies that cemented support to the growth of all seven emirates.
Proceeds from the sale of black gold allowed the United Arab Emirates to equip themselves with modern infrastructure: roads, houses, schools and health services. The maintaining of the federation of the United Arab Emirates was strongly supported by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding president of the federation, until his death on November 2, 2004. The UAE’s entire political system was made possible thanks to Zayed’s exceptional negotiation skills and allows for smaller sheikdoms to survive, something that would not have been possible had they remained independent states. The individual emirates adopt economic policies that reflect the differences between their respective economic structures. Since their inception, the United Arab Emirates enjoy a free trade sysytem and economic growth rates are continually rising. With a moderate foreign policy that encourages dialogue with surrounding countries and is pro-Western, the UAE is one of the most stable and secure countries in the Arab world.