UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
United Arab Emirates
Al-Imarat al-'Arabiyah al-Muttahidah
CAPITAL : Abu Dhabi (Abu Zaby)
FLAG : The flag consists of a red vertical stripe at the hoist and three equal horizontal stripes of green, white, and black.
ANTHEM : The National Anthem is an instrumental piece without words.
MONETARY UNIT : The United Arab Emirates dirham ( UD ), introduced as the currency in May 1973, is divided into 100 fils. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 fils and 1 and 5 dirham and notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams. UD 1 = $0.27337 (or $1 = UD 3.658) as of January 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system and imperial and local measures are used.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Accession of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi only), 6 August; National Day, 2 December; Christmas, 25 December. Muslim religious holidays include Lailat al-Miraj, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', Hijra New Year, and Milad an-Nabi.
TIME : 4 PM = noon GMT.
South Asians accounted for 50% of the total population at last estimate. Emiris constituted 19%, while other Arabs and Iranians made up 23%. Other expatriates, including Westerners and East Asians, totaled 8%. Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis, and Bahrainis are employed throughout the bureaucracy, including the educational system.
Arabic is the official and universal language. Hindi and Urdu are minority languages. English is widely used in business. Farsi is spoken in Dubai.
No political parties exist in the UAE. Arab nationalist feeling has developed, however, and there is growing sentiment, particularly among urban youth, in favor of political liberalization and accelerated economic development. Several small clandestine groups with ties to radical Arab organizations or militant Islamic groups are believed to be active and are watched closely by the federation's security services.
The major institutions of local government are the municipalities of Abu Dhabi town, Al-'Ayn, Dubai, Sharjah, Ra's al-Khaimah, Fujairah, 'Ajman, and Umm al-Qaiwain and a handful of traditional councils known as majalis and amiri diwans.
On 9 December 1971, shortly after achieving independence, the UAE became a member of the UN, and it now belongs to ESCWA and all the nonregional specialized agencies. The country is a member of G-77, GCC, the Islamic Conference, the Arab League, and OPEC. The UAE is a member of the WTO and signatory to the Law of the Sea.
Natural woodland is scarce, apart from palm groves along the northern and eastern coasts. Forested areas covered 321,000 hectares (793,000 acres), or about 3.8% of the total land area in 2000. The Forestry Department planted 80 million trees during 1980–95, at a cost of over $3 billion. Imports of forest products totaled $344.8 million in 1997.
Each emirate has its own decrees on corporate taxation. Corporate taxes are paid only by oil companies (at rates that vary among emirates) and branches of foreign banks (at 20%). Municipal taxes are 5% on residential and 10% on commercial rents. A 5% tax is imposed on hotel services and entertainment. There is no personal income tax.
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
The National Library has four branches and holds 370,000 volumes. The Higher Colleges of Technology (175,000 volumes), and the United Arab Emirates University (300,000 volumes) are in Abu Dhabi. The Al 'Ayn Museum (1971) is an archeological institution. There are local museums in Dubai, Fujairab, and Sharjah, which is also home to archaeological, historical, Islamic, and science museums.
There are chambers of commerce in the larger states. The Federation of United Arab Emirates Chambers of Commerce and Industry is located in Abu Dhabi. Various social and sporting clubs provide outlets for philanthropic work and recreation. National youth organizations include the National Union of Students of the Emirates and the Emirates Scout Association. The Red Crescent Society is active.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan an-Nahyan (b.1918) has been ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966 and president of the UAE since 1971.
The UAE has no territories or colonies.
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