Monday, December 5, 2011

The UAE turns 40!

The United Arab Emirates turned 40 on Friday and she wears it well.  Where as some of her fledgling country counterparts might be find approaching Over the Hill status a bit more challenging, the UAE slid into middle age with grace and style and I must say it looks good on her (although I swear she is using botox)!

And how does the UAE celebrate her 40 years?  With a national holiday, parades, classic car shows, and the wielding of swords for the most part, and the dancing...we have fireworks and hotdogs, but the Emaratis have a pretty good tradition of dancing for celebrations (with the aforementioned swords).  The dancing below features Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, son of the beloved Sheikh Zayed, the first President of the UAE who is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.  The crowd seems pretty excited to have him participate!

Read on for a little history lesson.

Dr. Fatma Al Savegh, professor of history at the UAE University offers this brief us history lesson:

When the United Arab Emirates was created in December 1971, few outside observers gave it a chance of success. Many concluded that the UAE was "an artificial creation that stood to have no chance of success and that its evolution was largely an artefact of British colonial policy". Contrary to all these views, local observers saw in the creation of the UAE the embodiment of their long-time dream. Many believed that the creation of the UAE came as a natural outcome of the prevailing political, economic, social and cultural conditions of the area.

Until their union, the shaikhdoms of the then "Trucial Coast" remained politically fragmented. They were disparate in size, ranging from small to tiny. Their lack of political and economic coherence increased their poverty. Against this background of differences, it is remarkable that the new polity was able to embrace an attitude of established nations.

The UAE, a federation of the former seven Trucial shaikhdoms, followed the termination of British treaties of 1892. These treaties had stipulated that Britain would defend the emirates and conduct their foreign relations. Since 1892, the British thus maintained security by discouraging any foreign powers, European or regional, from intruding into the Gulf.

In the early 1960s oil was first pumped from Abu Dhabi and in the late 1960s Dubai became an oil producer too. Negotiations for the British withdrawal also began and negotiations for the UAE's unification also started. All in all, the 1960s proved to be one of the most profound decades in the UAE's history.

Locally the oil boom coincided with the increase of national feelings. In the sudden switch from tribal seclusion to international limelight, the shaikhdoms readily rose to the challenge and rapidly implemented the social responsibility to aid the more needy shaikhdoms. On his accession as president of the UAE in 1971, Shaikh Zayed was intent on rapid modernisation and generously distributed the newly acquired oil wealth equally among all emirates. It was due to Shaikh Zayed's generosity that the UAE entered a new era of development.

On December 1, 1971, the British flag was lowered, and the next day, six of the seven emirates united. The seventh, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the union on February 10, 1972. The rulers convened their meeting as the Supreme Council. During this meeting Shaikh Zayed was elected the state's first president.

And volia!

1 comment:

jimdad said...

If Matt has anything to say about it, I'm sure fireworks will be part of the event.