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Unformatted text preview: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES INTRODUCTION by Simon Aspinall Area: c.83,000 sq.km. Population: Approximately 2,200,000 (1994 estimate). The United Arab Emirates (UAE), created in 1971, is a federation of seven former Trucial States situated in the southernmost part of the Arabian Gulf. The country includes part of the northern Hajar Mountains and also an 80 km stretch of the Gulf of Oman/Arabian Sea coastline directly facing the Indian Ocean. The Arabian Gulf coast of the UAE is about 450 km long, excluding the large collection of islands. The seven separate Emirates are of unequal size, Abu Dhabi being the largest by far at around 67,000 sq.km and Ajman the smallest at 260 sq.km. None of the Emirates is landlocked, such is the importance both historically and at the present time of access to, and exploitation of, the sea. Trade with other Gulf states and Indian Ocean nations relies heavily on transport by sea. Nowhere in the country is further than 200 km from the sea. Pearl (lulu) fisheries formerly contributed greatly to the wealth of the inhabitants of the southern Gulf. However it is for the huge onshore and offshore oil reserves that the UAE is justifiably famous and to which modern-day life in this country, with its high standard of living, is owed. Development has been rapid since the status of the seven Emirates being "in treaty relations" with Britain ceased in 1971, which itself post-dated the discovery of oil. The nation's wealth, coupled with its stability, has lent to the success and emergence of the federation in international politics and world affairs. Nonetheless, much of the traditional way of life still survives, blended with state of the art technology and largescale development for which financial resources are very large. The communication network is modern, fast and efficient, often lying side by side but in marked contrast to traditional seagoing dhows, souqs, bedu camps, camel herds and other typical Arabian sights. The topography of the UAE is characterised by rapid changes between the sand and gravel desert which dominates most of the south and west of the country (and extends inland to the high dune systems of the Empty Quarter, or Rub al Khali, of Arabia), a gravel savannah plain (with Acacia tortilis) of varying width abutting the western side of the Hajar Mountains, and the arid, jagged and shattered Hajar Mountains themselves, which rise rapidly to over 1,300 metres, and then, once over the watershed, steeply down to the coast of the Gulf of Oman/Arabian Sea. The corresponding gravel plain on the East Coast is patchy and small, and widest in the south, but for the most part separates the mountains from the sea with resulting few cliffs (except where faulted). Rather, there are numerous sandy beaches. The elevated Musandain Peninsula extending to the Strait of Hormuz is Omani territory. By contrast the Arabian Gulf littoral of the UAE is an exemplary development of active coastal sabkha, recognised as the biggest and best in the world. It is some 300 km long coastal sabkha, recognised as the biggest and best in the world....
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- Spring '11
- United Arab Emirates, ABU DHABI