United Arab Emirates

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of United Arab Emirates
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Location of United Arab Emirates
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OF UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
 

Introduction

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The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states - Abu Zaby, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn - merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah. The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. In March 2011, about 100 Emirati activists and intellectuals posted on the Internet and sent to the government a petition calling for greater political reform, including the establishment of a parliament with full legislative powers and the further expansion of the electorate and the rights of the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE's quasi-legislature. In an effort to stem further unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern Emirates. In late September 2011, an FNC election - in which voting was expanded from 6,600 voters to about 12 percent of the Emirati population - was held for half of the FNC seats. The other half are appointed by the rulers of the Emirates.
 
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Geography

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Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia
 
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24 00 N, 54 00 E
 
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total: 83,600 sq km
country comparison to the world: 115
land: 83,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than Maine
 
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total: 867 km
border countries: Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km
 
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1,318 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
 
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desert; cooler in eastern mountains
 
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flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert wasteland; mountains in east
 
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lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m
 
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petroleum, natural gas
 
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arable land: 0.77%
permanent crops: 2.27%
other: 96.96% (2005)
 
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2,300 sq km (2008)
 
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0.2 cu km (1997)
 
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total: 2.3 cu km/yr (23%/9%/68%)
per capita: 511 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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frequent sand and dust storms
 
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lack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
 
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strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
 
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People and Society

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noun: Emirati(s)
adjective: Emirati
 
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Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)
 
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Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
 
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Muslim 96% (Shia 16%), other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%
 
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5,148,664 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
note: estimate is based on the results of the 2005 census that included a significantly higher estimate of net immigration of non-citizens than previous estimates
 
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0-14 years: 20.4% (male 537,925/female 513,572)
15-64 years: 78.7% (male 2,968,958/female 1,080,717)
65 years and over: 0.9% (male 30,446/female 17,046)
note: 73.9% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2011 est.)
 
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total: 30.2 years
male: 32.1 years
female: 24.9 years (2011 est.)
 
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3.282% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
 
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15.87 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
 
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2.06 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 224
 
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19 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
 
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urban population: 84% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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ABU DHABI (capital) 666,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 2.75 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.8 male(s)/female
total population: 2.2 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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10 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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total: 11.94 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 135
male: 13.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.82 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 76.51 years
country comparison to the world: 72
male: 73.94 years
female: 79.22 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.4 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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2.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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1.93 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 66
 
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1.9 beds/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 95% of population
total: 97% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 5% of population
total: 3% of population (2008)
 
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0.2% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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33.7% (2000)
country comparison to the world: 7
 
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1.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 161
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.9%
male: 76.1%
female: 81.7% (2003 est.)
 
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total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2009)
 
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total: 12.1%
country comparison to the world: 90
male: 7.9%
female: 21.8% (2008)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: United Arab Emirates
conventional short form: none
local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
local short form: none
former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States
abbreviation: UAE
 
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federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates
 
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name: Abu Dhabi
geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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7 emirates (imarat, singular - imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra's al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn (Quwain)
 
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2 December 1971 (from the UK)
 
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Independence Day, 2 December (1971)
 
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2 December 1971; made permanent in 1996
 
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mixed legal system of Islamic law and civil law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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none
 
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chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister and Vice President MUHAMMAD bin Rashid Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009) and MANSUR bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 11 May 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets four times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power
elections: president and vice president elected by the FSC for five-year terms (no term limits) from among the seven FSC members; election last held 3 November 2009 upon the death of the UAE's Founding Father and first President ZAYID bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan elected president by a unanimous vote of the FSC; MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum unanimously affirmed vice president after the 2006 death of his brother Sheikh MAKTUM bin Rashid Al-Maktum
 
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unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the constituent states, 20 members elected to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 24 September 2011 (next to be held in 2015); note - the electoral college was expanded from 6,689 voters in the December 2006 election to 129,274 in the September 2011 election; 469 candidates including 85 women ran for 20 contested FNC seats
note: the FNC reviews legislation but cannot change or veto
 
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Union Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
 
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none; political parties are not allowed
 
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NA
 
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ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CICA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OIF (observer), OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Yusif bin Mani bin Said al-UTAYBA
chancery: 3522 International Court NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 243-2400
FAX: [1] (202) 243-2432
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Michael H. CORBIN
embassy: Embassies District, Plot 38 Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, Abu Dhabi
mailing address: P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi
telephone: [971] (2) 414-2200
FAX: [971] (2) 414-2603
consulate(s) general: Dubai
 
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three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side; the flag incorporates all four Pan-Arab colors, which in this case represent fertility (green), neutrality (white), petroleum resources (black), and unity (red); red was the traditional color incorporated into all flags of the emirates before their unification
 
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golden falcon
 
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name: "Nashid al-watani al-imarati" (National Anthem of the UAE)
lyrics/music: AREF Al Sheikh Abdullah Al Hassan/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB
note: music adopted 1971, lyrics adopted 1996; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of Tunisia
 
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Economy

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The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. In April 2004, the UAE signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Washington and in November 2004 agreed to undertake negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement with the US, however, those talks have not moved forward. The country's Free Trade Zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors. The global financial crisis, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009 and 2010. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency. The UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi-based banks bought the largest shares. In December 2009 Dubai received an additional $10 billion loan from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The economy is expected to continue a slow rebound. Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.
 
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$246.8 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$239.1 billion (2009 est.)
$246.9 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$301.9 billion (2010 est.)
 
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3.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
-3.2% (2009 est.)
5.3% (2008 est.)
 
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$49,600 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
$49,800 (2009 est.)
$53,400 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 55.5%
services: 43.6% (2010 est.)
 
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3.705 million
country comparison to the world: 91
note: expatriates account for about 85% of the work force (2010 est.)
 
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agriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)
 
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2.4% (2001)
country comparison to the world: 20
 
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19.5% (2003)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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23.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
 
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revenues: $85.77 billion
expenditures: $92.15 billion (2010 est.)
 
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28.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
 
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-2.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
 
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51.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
55% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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0.9% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
1.6% (2009 est.)
 
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NA%
 
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5.2% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
5.9% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$63.43 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$60.84 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$214.1 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$201.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$274.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
$263.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$104.7 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 37
$109.6 billion (31 December 2009)
$97.85 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish
 
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petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, textiles
 
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3.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
 
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80.94 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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70.58 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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2.813 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
 
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545,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
 
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2.395 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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235,300 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
 
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97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
 
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48.84 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
 
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59.08 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
 
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7.01 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
 
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17.25 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
 
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6.453 trillion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
 
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$6.053 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
$7.826 billion (2009 est.)
 
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$212.3 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$191.8 billion (2009 est.)
 
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crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates
 
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Japan 17.1%, India 13.6%, Iran 6.9%, South Korea 6.1%, Thailand 5.1% (2010)
 
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$161.4 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$149.7 billion (2009 est.)
 
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machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food
 
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India 17.5%, China 14%, US 7.7%, Germany 5.6%, Japan 4.8% (2010)
 
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$42.79 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
$36.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$151.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
$149 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$74.13 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
$70.18 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$53.43 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
$51.41 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar -
3.673 (2010)
3.673 (2009)
3.6725 (2008)
3.6725 (2007)
3.6725 (2006)
 
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Communications

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1.48 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 67
 
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10.926 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 65
 
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general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable
international: country code - 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia
 
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except for the many organizations now operating in Dubai's Media Free Zone, most television and radio stations remain government-owned; widespread use of satellite dishes provides access to pan-Arab and other international broadcasts (2007)
 
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.ae
 
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379,309 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 54
 
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3.449 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 61
 
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Transportation

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41 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 103
 
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total: 25
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2010)
 
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total: 16
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 5 (2010)
 
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5 (2010)
 
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condensate 458 km; refined products 212 km; gas 2,352 km; liquid petroleum gas 220 km; oil 1,437 km (2010)
 
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total: 4,080 km
country comparison to the world: 156
paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)
 
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total: 57
country comparison to the world: 68
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 9, chemical tanker 7, container 7, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 24, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 13 (Greece 3, Kuwait 10)
registered in other countries: 278 (Bahamas 27, Belize 5, Cambodia 2, Comoros 11, Cyprus 5, Georgia 1, Gibraltar 5, Hong Kong 2, India 4, Iran 1, Jordan 7, Liberia 27, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 17, Mexico 1, Netherlands 4, North Korea 6, Panama 83, Papua New Guinea 6, Philippines 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 17, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4, Saudi Arabia 6, Sierra Leone 6, Singapore 10, Tanzania 1, Togo 1, UK 9, Vanuatu 1, unknown 7) (2010)
 
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Al Fujayrah, Mina' Jabal 'Ali (Dubai), Khawr Fakkan (Khor Fakkan), Mubarraz Island, Mina' Rashid (Dubai), Mina' Saqr (Ra's al Khaymah)
 
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Military

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United Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force and Air Defense, Border and Coast Guard Directorate (BCGD) (2009)
 
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18 years of age for voluntary military service; 18 years of age for officers and women; no conscription; 16-22 years of age for candidates for the UAE Naval College (2011)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,676,928 (includes non-nationals)
females age 16-49: 981,649 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,229,366
females age 16-49: 842,759 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 27,439
female: 24,419 (2010 est.)
 
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3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
 
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Transnational Issues

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boundary agreement was signed and ratified with Oman in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah enclaves, but contents of the agreement and detailed maps showing the alignment have not been published; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which Iran occupies
 
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the UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE's position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated
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