Background: 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 Dhabi, '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. 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. The UAE essentially avoided the "Arab Spring" unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East in 2010-11 and in an effort to stem potential unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates and aggressively pursued advocates of political reform. The UAE in recent years has played a vital role in regional affairs. In addition to donating billions of dollars in economic aid to help stabilize Egypt, the UAE is a member of a US-led global coalition to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and a coalition partner in a Saudi-led military campaign to restore the Government of Yemen.
Definition: This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018