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Doing Business in the UAE

Country and People

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the Arabian Gulf, bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman. Because it is located in the centre of the Gulf countries, Indian Sub-Continent, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Africa, the UAE enjoys a strategic position that allows it to present unlimited opportunities across a wide range of sectors. In fact, as this guide will indicate, the UAE is now a hotbed of innovation brimming with new ideas. Being a hub for new ideas is a reclamation of a long tradition of Arab thinking and research.


The population of the UAE is growing at a rapid rate, estimated at 8.3 million at midyear 2010, as strong economic growth is attracting workers from all over the world. The UAE hosts expatriates from over 150 countries, which make up approximately 80% of the overall population. These are predominantly nationals of South and Southeast Asia (60%), as well as other Arab nationalities such as Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Yemenis and Omanis, as well as many Iranians, Filipinos and Westerners.

History and Government 

The United Arab Emirates was established in 1971 when the rulers of six emirates reached an agreement on forming the nation now known as the UAE. The seventh emirate joined the new federation in 1972. The UAE has a federal political system, where the constitution effectively brings together the seven emirates and lays the foundations for the UAE federal government.

Each individual emirate retains its judicial and political power. However, the federal government maintains exclusive jurisdiction in a number of areas, including foreign affairs, defence, health and education, while the individual emirates retain exclusive jurisdiction in other matters including those relating to municipal work and natural resources.

Political Overview

The President of the UAE is the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He has the full backing of the ruling families in the other six emirates. The Vice President and Prime Minister is the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. His priority is Dubai’s business development but he still takes a keen interest in regional politics. Both President and Vice President have appointed Crown Princes to ensure a smooth line of succession.

UAE’s federal structure

Federal Supreme Council: The Federal Supreme Council is a federation of the seven emirates. The Supreme Council ratifies federal laws and decrees, plans general policy and elects the President (who acts as head of state) and Vice President from among its members. During the initial discussions on forming a federation, the rulers of the seven emirates agreed that each of them would be a member of the Supreme Council, the top policy-making body in the new state, and that they would elect a President and a Vice President from amongst their number, to serve for a }401ve-year renewable term.

The UAE Today

Since its establishment, the UAE has transformed from a collection of small coastal and desert settlements dependent on meagre trade, pearling and subsistence farming into a nation characterised by its rapid economic growth, modern infrastructure and high standards of living. The property, harmony and modern development that characterise the UAE is often attributed to the discovery of oil in the 1960s and the role played by H.H. Sheikh Zayed prior to the formation of the federation and in the 33 years that followed until his death.

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