|Country profile: United Arab Emirates|
Before oil was discovered in the 1950s the UAE's economy was dependent on fishing and a declining pearling industry. But since 1962, when Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil, the country's society and economy have been transformed.
The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE at its inception, was quick to seize on the potential of the oil industry.
He oversaw the development of all the emirates and directed oil revenues into healthcare, education and the national infrastructure.
The oil industry has attracted a large influx of foreign workers who, together with expatriates, now make up more than three quarters of the population.
The country's growing business sector and its tourist industry have helped to fuel a construction boom, with billions of dollars being pumped into showpiece schemes. Chic hotels and skyscrapers are emblematic of cities such as Abu Dhabi and cosmopolitan Dubai.
The UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated. Until December 2006 it was the only state in the region not to have elected bodies.
Sheikh Khalifa succeeded his father
Sheikh Khalifa, crown prince of Abu Dhabi since 1969, is said to be a pro-Western moderniser.
Often referred to as the father of the nation, Sheikh Zayed succeeded his brother as ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and, because of his strong leadership and commitment to forming the federation, he was elected as the first president of the United Arab Emirates in 1971.
Reelected every five years since 1971, Sheikh Zayed instilled the values of religious tolerance and equality, especially for women, into his policies, which greatly enhanced the stability of the UAE.
- Vice president, prime minister, ruler of Dubai: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
- Ruler of Ajman: Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid al-Nuaimi
- Ruler of Fujairah: Sheikh Hamad bin Muhammad bin Hamad al-Sharqi
- Ruler of Ras al Khaimah: Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al-Qasimi
- Ruler of Sharjah: Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi
- Ruler of Umm al Qaiwain: Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmad al-Mualla
Dubai aspires to be a regional and international centre for television and media, alongside Egypt and Lebanon. An Electronic Commerce and Media Zone Authority was created in 2000 to attract regional and international media outlets.
It allows 100% foreign ownership and offers tax breaks.
Major media organisations - including Reuters and Sony - have moved in. Established satellite broadcaster MBC relocated to Dubai Media City from London.
In 2008 Abu Dhabi announced plans to set up a media zone.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech but there is strong regulatory and political control of media content.
A 1988 law requires that publications be licensed and outlines acceptable subjects of reporting. Foreign publications are censored before distribution. Journalists tend to practise self-censorship when reporting on such matters as government policy and ruling families.
Internet use is extensive; by 2007 there were 1.7 million users (InternetWorldStats.com). According to Reporters Without Borders, the authorities filter websites for religious, political and sexual content.
- Al-Bayan - private, Dubai-based Arabic daily
- Gulf News - Dubai-based, English-language
- Khaleej Times - private, Dubai-based daily, English-language
- Emirates Business 24/7 - English-language daily
- The National - Abu Dhabi-based English-language daily
- Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) - pan-Arab broadcaster, operates Dubai TV, Dubai One
- Abu Dhabi TV - pan-Arab broadcaster
- Ajman TV
- Sharjah TV
- MBC - Dubai-based pan-Arab broadcaster
- Al-Arabiya - news channel operated by MBC
- Abu Dhabi Radio
- Radio Asia - commercial, broadcasts in Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam
- Ras al Khaimah Radio
- Al-Arabiya FM - commercial, Arabic pop
- Dubai 92 - commercial, English-language pop
- Noor Dubai 93.9 - commercial, "Islamic-oriented" news, talk
- City 1016 - commercial, programmes in English and Urdu
- Emirates News Agency (WAM) - official