Abubakr M. Suliman and Rehana Hayat INTRODUCTION The United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a modern nation came into being following Britain’s 1968 announcement of its decision to withdraw from its colonial holdings East of Suez within three years. Up to this date, Britain had been the dominant foreign power in the region for over 200 years (Crystal 2011), concluding a series of treaties with local rulers including the Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity (1853) and exclusive agreements for the defence and foreign affairs of what had become known as the Trucial States. With Britain’s withdrawal, the seven Emirates of the Trucial States (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain) became the federal nation that is the UAE. In the context of the region, the politics of the UAE has been relatively stable: Sheikh Zayed came to power in Abu Dhabi in a widely supported palace coup in 1966, and Sharjah has seen power disputed in 1972 and 1987, but recent successions have been smoother (Crystal 2011; see also MiltonEdwards 2006) despite the recent resurrection of the succession dispute in Ras al-Khaimah (Kerr 2010). The UAE has also been fortunate in its natural resources, with around 9 per cent of world oil resources (see Chapter 1, Table 1.6). However, this has led to particular challenges in other ways, especially in dealing with large numbers of migrant workers – up to 80 per cent of the population (Davidson 2008; UNDP 2009) – a challenge that will be discussed in...
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