Even before Britain first offered its protection to a group of several, loosely aligned sheikhdoms, the rulers of region were already autonomous monarchs who ruled over their own individual territories.Â At that time, the United Arab Emirates was known as Trucial Oman, and it consisted of seven emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras al Khaimah.Â In 1882, when the British arrived, the kingdoms signed a treaty that allowed England to represent them in international matters and to provide defense.
Things continued along this vein until 1952 when the rulers of the seven sheikhdoms decided to establish the Trucial Council to formulate common policies that could be adopted by all rulers.Â The purpose was to bond the seven territories as a more cohesive unit, and this was the first step toward the establishment of a federation.
Discovery of Oil
It was Abu Dhabi, the largest of the sheikhdoms, that first struck gold when oil was discovered off its waters in 1958. Â A couple of years later, onshore drilling resulted uncovered large reserves of oil on land. Â In 1962, the emirate began the commercial exploitation of these reserves.
In January 1968, the British government announced its intention to withdraw military protection from the region, and in March of that year, the Trucial states formed a federation that included neighboring Bahrain and Qatar.Â The newly formed coalition didn't last long, however. Â Originally intended as an independent federation, it failed to hold strong against the interests of the seven sheikhs on the one hand and the kingdom of Bahrain and Qatar on the other.Â In 1971, both the latter kingdoms broke off to form separate independent states.
After the departures of Bahrain and Qatar, six of the remaining members of the federation proceeded with plans to establish an independent state, with a separate well-defined constitution.Â In December of that year, the United Arab Emirates declared itself a sovereign entity, consisting of six emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, and Fujairah.Â The seventh emirate, Ras-al-Khaimah joined the newly formed country in 1972.
Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, assumed position as the first President of the country. Â The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Said al-Maktoum, took office as the vice president.Â
Today, the United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the Persian Gulf region, with interests not just in oil, but also in finance, banking, and of course, medical tourism.Â The country has managed to forge a balance between Western-style capitalism and Islamic culture, and it has positioned itself as a regional medical tourism and healthcare hub.Â It attracts visitors who are impressed with the quality of its medical facilities, the wealth of amusement and tourism opportunities here, and the comforting presence of a sizable Western expatriate population.Â Â