UAE History

UAE HistoryHere is a timeline of the important dates and events that should be remembered in the history of the United Arab Emirates.

Treaty signed

A General peace treaty was signed with the aim at surpressing piracy along the Gulf Coast. This was signed between the British Government and . the Sheikhs of Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah this area of the Gulf Coast became known as the Trucial Coast
Britain gains control over the foreign affairs of the country but allows each emirate control over its internal affairs by signing agreements which enforce this.


His Highness Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi is declared the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.


In an attempt to bring about more cooperation between the seven emirates a council was formed between them

Buraimi dispute

A dispute was born involving the Trucial Oman Levies, forces of the Sultan of Muscat and Oman and those of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi moving into the Buraimi area. The dispute is due to the breakdown of the borders between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.


Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan becomes Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Also within this year certain members of the Ruling family (Al Nahyan) and prominent members of society established a number of new administrative departments.

British withdrawal
A momentous moment for the emirates, the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announces plans to entirely withdraw British forces from the emirates by the end of 1971. The implications of this would mean independence to the Gulf, and external relations would have to be managed by themselves.

Also, at this time, the beginnings of plans to form a federation of the emirates takes place.

Case of the three islands 

Iran lays claim to the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa, 2 islands that have caused controversy due to their ownership for centuries. The following year, Iran forcibly occupies the three islands. Since then, the UAE has been repeatedly calling for a peaceful resolution or the use of international arbitration to resolve the issue.

Iran occupation

Iran occupies the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa.

British evacuation
A treaty of friendship is signed between Britain and the UAE by Sir Geoffrey Arthur who was the last British Political Agent in the Gulf and by Sheikh Zayed who was representing the UAE.

Formation of the UAE
This year also saw the beginnings of the formation of the new UAE federation including Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Umm al Quwain and Fujairah all under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed. The final emirate of Ras al Khaimah later joined a year later. Each emirate is represented in the national assembly and the Ruler of each emirate is entitled to vote in the Supreme Council of Rulers. Additionally it was agreed that the Federation’s Constitution would only last for a provisional 5 years and then would be replaced by a more permanent one.

Elected President
The UAE is finally established as a federation with aims to establish 4 main objectives which are: solving regional issues by peaceful means, actively participating in international forums and organizations, politically, culturally, and economically strengthening ties between Arab countries and building an educational society.

Arab League
UAE joins the Arab League. The Abu Dhabi National Consultative Council and the Cabinet are formed. Sheikh Zayed inaugurates the 50-member assembly’s first meeting.


A new ruler is elected to rule Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi.

Council created

The Abu Dhabi Cabinet is replaced by the Executive Council which makes up the Emirates’ government department.

Merger of oil departments
A merger of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjahs’ oil departments is approved by the UAE Cabinet creating one single UAE Petroleum Ministry.


Fujairah gets a new ruler, Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammad Bin Hamad Al Sharqi.

Foreign aid
Sheikh Zayed recognizes the need to help out its neighboring countries by allocating 28 percent of Abu Dhabi’s income towards assisting Arab, Islamic and developing countries.


This year saw the rise of two rulers, his Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Ahmad Al Mualla of Umm Al Qaiwain, and his Highness Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi of Ajman.

GCC formed
GCC stands for the Gulf Cooperation Council which is a union amongst the states of Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The first meeting of this new council was held in Abu Dhabi and the idea behind the council is to form joint projects between all of the states for various fields of life.

Delma oil project
The foundations are laid to develop one of the largest oil fields, a project costing $700 million.

Women’s role in society

A woman’s role in society is officially reinstated with the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association. It was stated by Sheikh Zayed that according to Islamic and traditional values, a woman’s role is raising children, however she should not be solely confined to this role.

14th National Day celebrations

National day is celebrated every year on the 2nd December and is to mark the independence the UAE gained from the British Protectorate Treaties. It also marks the unification of the 7 emirates in 1971. Upon this 14th National Day Sheikh Zayed reinstates his belief that the citizen is the main asset of the country and that the federation’s main aim is to serve its citizens.

Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan is re-elected as UAE president – his fourth term

Dubai mourns
Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum dies and is succeeded by his son His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Supports Kuwait
The UAE condemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Sheikh Zayed refuses to compromise with Saddam, declaring it was not “our duty to save his face”.

Foreign bases not welcome
Sheikh Zayed rejects the setting up of permanent foreign bases in the UAE, stating that help from friends was acceptable but bases in the UAE were neither acceptable nor welcome. This is also the same year the UAE forces joined the allies against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait.

Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) collapses. Abu Dhabi’s ruling family owns a 77.4% share.

Island controversy
Iran angers the UAE by saying visitors to Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb must have Iranian visas.

Call for an end to Iraqi embargo
Sheikh Zayed stresses the fact that 18 million Iraqis were unjustly paying the price on Saddam Hussain’s behalf and calls for an immediate lifting of the sanctions imposed on the country after the 1991 Gulf War.

UAE’s Silver Jubilee
The UAE celebrates its 25th National Day and Sheikh Zayed’s 30th anniversary as Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Federation’s capital

The Supreme Council agrees to make the UAE’s temporary constitution permanent and names Abu Dhabi as the federal capital. Sheikh Zayed stresses the importance of running the federation through hard work, which he says is the responsibility of the younger generation.

The Island dispute continues
Iran fuels the dispute over Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb by building an airport on Abu Musa and a power station on Greater Tunb.

Boycotts the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) economic summit being held in Qatar, due to the deadlock in the peace process and the rejection of the event by Arab leaders.

UAE-Iraqi relations
UAE restores diplomatic relations with Iraq after they were severed at the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War.

Accord signed between Oman and UAE
Sheikh Zayed and His Majesty Sultan Qaboos sign an agreement defining the borders between the two countries. After many efforts of negotiation by Sheikh Zayed an agreement is resolved concerning the border differences between Oman and the UAE.

Row with Saudi Arabia
There is unrest that brews as a result of the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, this cause criticism from the UAE as Sheikh Zayed claims that the UAE was treated in a cold and alienating manner. Qatar then intervened to mediate matters, resolving the issue.

UAE Forces in Kosovo
attempts to maintain peace within Kosovo went underway under the instructions of Sheikh Zayed. The UAE forces participated with a contingency with a Nato-led international force called KFOR, which was established under a UN mandate. Interestingly the UAE was the only Arab country to have been involved in the peacekeeping mission.

Support for intifada
This being the second intifada (a period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian violence), Sheikh Zayed supports the side of the Palestinians stating that “We also affirm the continuation of our firm and principled position in support of the Palestinian intifada and the balanced resolutions of the Palestinian National Authority in rejection of such aggressive Israeli policy.”

Celebration of stability
In a message to the UAE people on the UAE Federation’s 30th National Day, Sheikh Zayed states patience, perseverance and continued hard work are the reason behind the security and stability of the country.

Cabinet reshuffled
A great moment for Arab women, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is appointed the first female minister as the minister of foreign trade.

Sheikh Zayed passes away
A sad day for the UAE, the ruler Sheikh Zayed passes away. He is succeeded by his eldest son, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan appointed Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Armed forces
General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is appointed Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Dubai mourns
Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum dies, and is succeeded by his brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

France gains a military base
France and the UAE sign a deal allowing France to set up a permanent military base in the UAE’s largest emirate, Abu Dhabi.

Debts cancelled
The UAE cancels the entire debt owed to it by Iraq – a sum of almost $7bn.

Largest building opens 
Burj Khalifa tower opens in Dubai as the world’s tallest building and man-made structure.
Palestinian militant leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is killed in a Dubai hotel, in a hit widely blamed on Israel.

More island controversy  
The UAE recalls its ambassador to Iran after the Iranian president visits a Gulf island, Abu Musa, claimed by both countries.


Oil pipelines
The UAE begins operating a key overland oil pipeline which bypasses the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait at the mouth of the Gulf, a vital oil-trade route.

UAE defends government mockery
Mindful of protests in nearby Bahrain, the UAE outlaws online mockery of its own government or attempts to organize public protests through social media. Since March it has detained more that 60 activists without charge – some of them supporters of the Islah Islamic group, which is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood elsewhere in Arab countries.

68 jailed in attempt to overthrow the government
Sixty-eight people are jailed on charges of planning to overthrow the government. The trial of 94 supporters of the Islah Islamic group began in January, and human rights groups criticized the court’s failure to investigate allegations that the defendants were tortured. The other suspects were either acquitted or tried in absentia.

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