Arab sheikdoms in the United Arab Emirates
Arab sheikdoms in the United Arab Emirates
Dubai is one of the seven Arab sheikdoms in the United Arab Emirates (U. A. E. ). Before oil and gas were discovered in 1958, it was among the very poor sheikdoms under British protection and was once called a Trucial State. Today, their sheiks are independent and among the world’s richest men, with a gross annual income of $25. 7 billion. It has vast reserves of oil and natural gas (Ibrahim, 1982). The land is mainly salt mashes, barren desert, and sandy plain. Oases stud the desert areas. To the east, the mountains lie close to the sea.
It is also famous as having the highest cost of living in the world – the cheapest apartment rents for $1,000 per month (Peck, 1986). The Emiratians (Dubai people) used to be pirates, fishermen or pearl divers, nomads or oasis farmers. Most are now wage earners or businessmen who feel more conscious of a national identity as a rich and important country. They are famous for two unique sports: (1) camel races, and (2) falconry. Colorful music, dancing and singing also give life to this otherwise dry place. This area of Gulf was notorious for piracy.
They preyed on the trade between Europe and China. The British came in 1806 and started to impose oder against the Arab pirates. In 1853, piracy was finally wiped out when the sheiks signed the Perpetual Maritime Truce Agreement with Britain. Thus, the Pirate Coast became the respectable Trucial States (Seale, 1988). Today, Dubai is the largest commercial center and the nerve center for smuggling Western currency, gold, and other goods into the Indian subcontinent, especially Pakistan. Dubai is also the outlet for capital fleeing Afghanistan and Iran.
One phenomenon of the oil boom was to fill Dubai’s population (like that of Kuwait and Qatar) mostly with foreigners. The majority of the population or around 50% is Indo-Pakistani outnumber the native Arabs, who populate the land by only 42%. The large foreign population (mostly migrant workers) are lured to Dubai by the high salaries, welfare benefits, and rapid development. To keep discipline, the governing Arab sheiks have emphasized Muslim (Shariah) law, religious education, and the observance of Muslim practices.
The Muslim rulers and people are Sunnis, strongly influenced by the strict Wahabi sect of neighboring Saudi Arabia (Peck, 1986). Diplomacy, national security, information, communications, health, education, and the budgets of the three smaller emirates are decided by the federal government. The local sheiks retain control over policy within their emirates. The laws of Dubai (under the United Arab of Emirates) are divided into two main categories: union laws and decrees.
A bill drafted by the Council of Ministers for non-binding deliberation by the Federal National Council and then submitted to the president for his assent and the Supreme Council of the Union for ratification becomes a union law when promulgated by the president. Decrees are issued jointly by the president and the Council of Ministers between sessions of the Supreme Council of the Union. As the final say is always on the Supreme Council of the Union, a decree must only be confirmed by them to remain valid (Ibrahim, 1982).
Dubai’s political system, which is a unique combination of the traditional and the modern, has underpinned this political success, enabling the country to develop a modern administrative structure while, at the same time, ensuring that the best of the traditions of the past are maintained, adapted and preserved (Ibrahim, 1982). Relations with the other members of the U. A. E. have not always been smooth. The discovery of a big natural gas field in Sharjah reopened a border dispute with Dubai.
In November 1982, Dubai sent tanks to the border to prevent Sharjah’s foreign contractors from drilling the field (Seale, 1988). However, not all is coming up roses for Dubai. Bad planning and extravagance have now caused new miseries. In fact, the most outstanding examples of ill-conceived investment in the Arab world are found in the Dubai ports and so-called international airports stand cheek to cheek. Within fifty kilometers of its coast are three major ports, including the Mina Jabel Ali, the biggest manmade port ever built. Its sixty-seven berths are now suffering terrible losses.
Being a member of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has an international airport of its own, making cynics joke that the state boundaries end where the next runway begins. The headquarters of the Arab Monetary Fund in Dubai have polished one-way windows done with gold compound (Peck, 1986). References Ibrahim, Saad Eddin. (1982). The New Arab Social Order: A Study of the Social Impact of Oil Wealth. Westview Press. Peck, Malcolm C. (1986). The United Arab Emirates: A Venture in Unity. Westview Press. Seale, Patrick. (1988). Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. University of California Press.