Thursday, August 5, 2010
United Arab Emirates
The chances are that if you're reading a blog about Abu Dhabi, you've heard of the United Arab Emirates. I've found that when I tell people that I live in Abu Dhabi, I tend to get looks ranging from confusion to embarrassment for not knowing where it is. When I tell them that it's in the U.A.E., most people are still not sure of where it is. Finally, when I say the full name of the country, I get mild looks of recognition. It's easy to forget that Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, a country that a lot of people have never heard of, and not a country in itself. It's a young country, only 39 years old.
As a former British colony, oil was discovered in the late 1960's. A few years after that, the sheiks in the area formed a coalition. Britain read the writing on the wall and set December 1st, 1971 as the date that the sheikdoms were on their own. Both Bahrain and Qatar claimed their independence earlier that year. On December 2nd, 1971, the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Dubai got together and convinced the leaders of Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajiman, and Umm Al Quwain to join them in forming the United Arab Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah joined the next year to complete the set of seven Emirates.
The whole thing seems to have worked out for everyone, including the U.S., Britain, and Japan who remain close allies with the U.A.E., their reasonable human rights record, and their oil.