The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an exemplar of a Union with positive impacts far outreaching the strength of a single nation. On August 6, 1966, Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi, rose into Presidency and thus began his visionary move toward creating a Federation almost a decade before the UAE’s formation. In the late 1960s, the British were forced by economic pressures out of the Arabian Gulf (“The Formation of the Federation,” n.d.). Over the next six years, the leaders of the Arabian Gulf worked towards a unification that was spearheaded by Zayed and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum the late ruler of Dubai. The aftermath was the forging of a Federation whose unification and like-mindedness reflected in the UAE’s unparalleled wealth and political stability. Zayed’s ambition and the commitment of the Trucial leaders transformed the union into an economically unrivaled and politically stable federation of UAE.
The Union Accord
Zayed’s first private secretary Ahmed Al Mahmoud conducted an interview that gave people a glimpse of the Sheikh. According to The National (2010), people were in awe of the Sheikh as he inspired a significant population of people in the Gulf. Zayed used the MICEE (Model, Inspire, Challenge, Enable, and Encourage) model in several aspects to assess his leadership. Through this framework, it is evident how Zayed interweaved his strong religious beliefs with humanitarian and foreign policies. His experiences in the desert prompted him to push forward for sustainability and economic diversification in the UAE (Smith, 2017). He translated his vision for the UAE into actively creating a government that would allow the people’s voices to be heard (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan: The Great Man,” 2019). Perhaps the most important trait Zayed showed was optimism for the UAE, which is what made him connect to the people at every level.
In the events leading up to the liberation of the Arabian Gulf nations from the British, the Union Accord was signed, thus forming the first step towards the unification of the Gulf States. The Union Accord of 1968 was an agreement between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The two Emirates would ‘jointly conduct foreign affairs, defense, security, and social services and … adopt a common immigration policy’ (“The Formation of the Federation,” n.d.) while maintaining independence over other jurisdictional affairs. Through this unitary move by Rashid and Zayed, the stage was set to unify the seven Trucial States further. Zayed, at this point, compelled the leaders of the nine Emirates to form a Union, and serious negotiations concerning the formation of a federacy were set into motion (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE,” n.d.). Later, Zayed would implement policies to conserve the wildlife species indigenous to the Arabian Gulf.
The Eleven-Point Agreement
During the next three years after the meeting, the UAE leaders drafted and revised an eleven-point agreement, the basis upon which the formal Federation’s Constitution would later be founded upon. At the time, however, Iran sent its troops to the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunb to seize and capture the lands, part of Ras al-Khaimah (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE,” n.d.). This action forced Ras al Khaimah’s leaders to withdraw from the formal negotiations that six Trucial States were having concerning the formation of a Union. On August 14, 1971, Iran no longer held its claim over Bahrain and Qatar. Both nations made a swift move to declare independence and reinstate themselves as sovereign nations. Half a year later, Ras al Khaimah joined the Union – completing the membership of the Trucial States in the to-be Federation. The newly founded state was officiated and became known as the United Arab Emirates on July 18, 1971 (National Archives, 2018). The state had a Provisional Constitution that would specify the powers granted to the Federacy and those powers that would remain within the sovereignty of the individual nations.
Five Central Authorities in the Constitution
The Federation’s Constitution established five authorities central to the Union’s administration, namely, The Supreme Council, The President and Vice President of the Union, The Federal National Council (FNC), The Judiciary, and The Council of Ministers (The National, 2010). Within its 152 articles, the Provisional Constitution spelled out the structure that the nation’s political and constitutional would adopt; at all three Federal Judicial, Legislative, and Executive Levels. The Supreme Council, for example, is endowed with the highest legislative and executive powers within the Federacy (“The Formation of the Federation,” n.d.). For the FNC, the forty members comprising the council serve as a consultative body in matters legislative, thus forming the parliamentary body of the UAE. FNC’s members are representatives of the seven Emirates in proportion to the size of each Emirate Nation (Almatrooshi, 2019). One parliamentary function of the duty includes the passing and amendment of Federal draft bills and laws. The Constitution also established the relationship between the Federal and Emirate governments – granting exclusive jurisdiction to local governments on matters that are not expressly granted to the Federacy.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was unanimously elected into power by the six leaders who formed the Federation. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was elected as his Vice President. The UAE’s progress was gaining momentum, and Zayed’s philosophical and visionary efforts were “a mandate to develop the Emirate as quickly as possible” (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE,” n.d.). On the same note, the leaders made the principles and laws outlined in the Provisional Constitution the Union’s official Constitution. Abu Dhabi was intuitively set up as the Federation’s capital because it was the largest nation geographically and had the biggest oil reserves (“The Formation of the Federation,” n.d.). Zayed, the Abu Dhabi president, used the revenue from earlier crude oil exportations to develop infrastructure and improve schooling, housing, and transportation of the Emirates (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE,” n.d.). The UAE’s political, cultural, and social facets started to develop, and the Federation swiftly became an international success.
UAE Political Agenda
On its political front, UAE leaders implemented a foreign policy whose agenda was to foster peace and diffuse conflict. The federation forged international partnerships and alliances, and in doing so, promoted its national identity and rich cultural heritage to the rest of the world. Similarly, the Central Authorities (CA) unified vision helped build an even more solid political framework for the UAE. It was the CA’s obligation to harness the wealth and economic potentials within the region and use these resources to improve the livelihood of its citizens. Of these resources, oil accounts for the largest percentage of revenue, with other Emirate nations boasting a wealth of arable land and water. Rowntree et al. (2015) note that ‘oil-rich nations such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have been fundamentally transformed by the global fossil fuel economy. These countries are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is responsible for petroleum price regulation (Kazim, 2018). The advent of modernization and technology played a key role in the economic growth of the UAE (Rowntree et al., 2015). The Federation took on a futuristic look at its architecture and infrastructure.
UAE’s Women Federation
Zayed’s contribution to the growing Union played an indispensable role in the success of the Federation. From the abolishment of a confrontation-based decision system to the revival of UAE’s agricultural and economic diversion to the conservation of wildlife and vegetation, Zayed’s commitment and devotion are reflected in the success of his endeavors. One of the most notable anti-conflict engagements by the UAE was the UN’s peacekeeping Kosovo Force (“Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE,” n.d.). The Federation was the only Arab and Non-NATO Nation to serve in operation. Sheikh Zayed made a similarly momentous move when he joined both the Arab League and United Nations. By forming such an alliance with the rest of the world, both Arabic and non-Arabic, Zayed’s ambition for peace and solidarity was brought closer to reality. UAE established the Women’s Federation in 1975, which gave them a platform to voice their concerns and champion for better rights.
The foundation of the UAE and the history behind it champions the idea of Unions and the tremendously positive impact they can have on any economy and political structure. Through the determination, hard work, and deep religious faith of one man, the UAE alliance morphed into reality. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was an exceptional leader bound not by even the most formidable tasks. His charm and political acumen made it possible to convince people that a Union was the best move forward, what with the liberation from the British. The UAE developed a unique social identity and succeeded in creating a stable political framework. Such success is demonstrated to have stemmed from the efforts by the founding fathers towards a common goal, that goal being to improve the lives of its citizens.
Almatrooshi, B. (2019). The UAE’s foreign assistance policy and its contributions to the sustainable development goals. Open Journal of Political Science, 9(4), 669-686. Web.
Kazim, A. (2018). The emergence of hyper-consumerism in UAE society: A socio-cultural perspective. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 17(4), 353-372. Web.
Smith, S. C. (2017). Failure and success in state formation: British policy towards the Federation of South Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Middle Eastern Studies, 53(1), 84-97. Web.
Rowntree, L., Lewis, M., Price, M., & Wyckoff, W. (2015). Diversity amid globalization. Pearson Education UK.
The Formation of the Federation. (n.d.) National Archives. Web.
The National. (2010). The First Day: Birth of a nation [Video]. Web.