December 2 marks the 36th year of the federation of Gulf emirates into the country called the United Arab Emirates.
And united they are – I believe it’s actually the longest-lasting federation in the Arab world.
The UAE flag.
When the British pulled back from the area, in what was known as the ‘east of Suez policy’, most of what had been the Trucial States joined together in federation, Bahrain and Qatar deciding to go-it-alone.
In 1971 six of the emirates became the UAE, with Ras Al Khaimah joining a year later.
The seven emirates making up the country are Abu Dhabi, which is the federal capital, Dubai, which has always been the commercial centre, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
Abu Dhabi has large oil reserves, Dubai has very little – in fact oil only accounts for some 5% of Dubai’s economy, trading is what Dubai is all about.
Now all the emirates are going through a huge development boom, the scale of which the world has never before seen.
The country has come a long, long way in a very short period of time.