- Sheila S. Blair
- and Jonathan M. Bloom
[Arab. Al-Imārātt al-‛Arabiyya al-Muttaḥida; formerly the Trucial States]
Federation of seven states in the eastern Arabian peninsula, with coastlines along the Gulf: Abu Dhabi (comprising 88% of the territory), Dubai, Sharjah (Arab. al-Shariqa), Ra’s al-Khayma, Fujayra, Umm al-Qaywayn and ‛Ajman (the smallest emirate); each emirate is named after its main city. Salt flats along the coast give way to sand desert and gravel plains, with the Hajar mountain range dividing the east and west coasts. The indigenous population (c. 4,500,000; 2005 estimate) is mainly Sunni Muslim and there is a large expatriate workforce. In prehistoric times the people were sea traders on the route between the east (e.g. Indus Valley, Iran) and Mesopotamia. They were at the height of their prosperity in the 3rd millennium bc when greater Oman (including the UAE) can possibly be identified as the copper-producing land of Magan, known from Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets. Islam arrived in this region c. ad 630. The Portuguese occupied the main Gulf ports from the 16th century to the mid-17th. The origins of the present-day states lie in the 18th century when relations with Britain also began. In the late 19th century and early 20th the pearl industry reached its height, which helped make Dubai a major entrepôt. In ...