Who would have thought that the small, scattered gatherings of desert bedouins on the Gulf Coast would lay the foundations of a stunning futuristic metropolis?
The UAE has grown to be internationally renowned and well-loved by both nationals and expats alike. As we approach the day dedicated to celebrating its existence, let’s take a broad look at how the Spirit of the Union has manifested in the UAE’s growth — then, and now.
Before the 1970s | The Trucial States
A long time ago, the United Arab Emirates was merely one of many Trucial States — groups of tribal confederations that were signatories to the British government. They found their strength in foreign trade, which was facilitated by the domestication of the camel. Camels helped traders and travellers go as far as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Bahrain, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition to the the trading routes that the camels forged, the region also exported and traded pearls with India, Persia, and Turkey, and went far into European and Chinese markets.
Even back then, the area that would become the UAE was a well-known player in the global market.
1971 | Spirit of the Union, Day 1
The great Arab leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, officially unites six Trucial States into the United Arab Emirates. The seventh Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joins the year after. The late Sheikh Zayed was the first president of the UAE, and continued to be re-elected at five-year intervals until his passing in 2004.
The UAE was still mostly sand dunes and dirt roads at this moment in time, but quickly managed to establish more with the founding fathers’ skillful command over the country’s vast oil reserves. The money generated by this led to the establishment of many social services for Emiratis, such as free education, housing, healthcare, and social support. This led to an explosion of growth and development throughout the country — and with the advent of modern technology in more recent decades, the UAE was succesfully transformed from a developing country to a modern nation-state.
And it’s only been a little over four decades.
2017 | UAE & Beyond
The UAE is currently home to over two hundred different nationalities that coexist peacefully with one another. They bring with them different cultures and histories to the area. All sorts of different architecture, food, technology, and people can be found within these borders, and the massive concentration of knowledge and hard work in here is one of the main contributors to the Emirates’ position as an international hub.
It is exciting to be here and to watch the country continue to grow; to realize that we are still a part of history in the making. The UAE continues to be the land of promise, not just for their kin but to the millions of others who have chosen to pursue their brighter tomorrows in the land of sun and sand.
This country has stood firm despite encountering years of financial crisis here and there, as well as solid competition on the way. Its endurance is a testament to the strength it finds in unity amidst diversity, and we will continue to stand in union with the Emirati spirit — forty-six long, good years after its creation.
Happy Birthday, UAE!