United Arab Emirates (UAE), formerly Trucial States, Country, Middle East, southwestern Asia. It is a federation of seven states on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. They are the emirates of Abū Ẓaby (Abu Dhabi), Dubayy (Dubai), ʿAjmān, Al-Shāriqah (Sharjah), Umm al-Qaywayn, Raʾs al-Khaymah, and Al-Fujayrah. Area: 27,423 sq mi (71,024 sq km). Population: (2023 est.) 9,264,000. Capital: Abu Dhabi. The indigenous inhabitants are Arabs, but there are a large number of South Asian and Iranian migrant workers. Languages: Arabic (official), English, Persian, Urdu, Hindi. Religions: Islam (official; predominantly Sunni); also Christianity, Hinduism. Currency: UAE dirham.
The UAE’s low-lying desert plain is broken by the Ḥajar Mountains along the Musandam Peninsula. Three natural deepwater harbours are located along the Gulf of Oman. The UAE (mainly Abū Ẓaby) has roughly one-tenth of the world’s petroleum reserves and significant natural gas deposits, the production of which are the federation’s principal industries. Other important economic activities include fishing, livestock herding, and date production. The federation has one advisory board; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister.
In 1820 the British signed a peace treaty with the region’s coastal rulers. The area, formerly called the Pirate Coast, became known as the Trucial Coast. In 1892 the rulers agreed to entrust foreign relations to Britain, but the British never assumed sovereignty; each state maintained full internal control. The states formed the Trucial States Council in 1960 and in 1971 terminated defense treaties with Britain and established the six-member federation. Raʾs al-Khaymah joined it in 1972. The UAE aided coalition forces against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War (1990–91).