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Originally a small fishing settlement, Dubai was taken over in about 1830 by a branch of the Bani Yas tribe from the Liwa oasis led by the Maktoum family who still rule the emirate today.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - Prime Minister of DubaiTraditional activities included herding sheep and goats, cultivating dates, fishing and pearling, but the inhabitants built up trade too. By the turn of the century, Dubai was reputed to have the largest souks on the Gulf coast, with 350 shops in the Deira district alone. Commercial success allied to the liberal attitudes of Dubai's rulers, made the emirate attractive to traders from India and Iran, who began to settle in the growing town. But, while trade developed, Dubai remained politically a protectorate of Britain as part of the Trucial States extending along the northern coast of the Arabian peninsula. On the British withdrawal in 1971, Dubai came together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and (in 1972) Ras Al Khaimah to create the federation of the United Arab Emirates. This was shortly after the discovery of oil in 1966, which was soon to transform the emirate and its way of life. Dubai's first oil exports in 1969 were followed by a period of rapid development that laid the foundations for today's modern society. Much of the credit for this development can be traced to the vision of the late Ruler, HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ensured that Dubai's oil revenues, despite being relatively modest by the standards of the region, were deployed to maximum effect.

Dubai International AirportThe UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to some 13 centimetres a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degrees Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce.

International Relations
The UAE became a member of the United Nations and the Arab LeagueFlag of the League of Arab States  in 1971. It is a member of the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), World Trade Organisation and other international and Arab organisations, including the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (AGCC), whose other members are Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. In its foreign relations, the UAE's stance is one of non-alignment but it is committed to the support of Arab unity.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven members: Abu Dhabi (the capital city), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

The total area of the country is about 83,600 square kilometres,Dhow racing much of it in Abu Dhabi emirate. Dubai, with an area of 3,885 square kilometres, is the second largest emirate. Situated on the banks of the Dubai Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf, which divides the city into the Deira district to its north, and Bur Dubai on its south, the city ranks as the UAE's most important port and commercial centre. The UAE has 700 kilometres of coastline, of which 100 kilometres are on the Gulf of Oman. Along the Arabian Gulf coast, there are offshore islands, coral reefs and sabkha, or salt marshes. Stretches of gravel plain and sandy desert characterise the inland region.

Dubai Golf ClubTo the east, a range of mountains lies close to the Gulf of Oman and forms a backbone through the Mussandam Peninsula. The western interior of the country, most of it in Abu Dhabi, consists mainly of desert interspersed with oases.

According to the Ministry of Planning, the population of the U.A.E. expanded from 2,411,041 (census results) in 1995 to 4.3 million 2004.

Federation of seven autonomous Emirates. The highest federal authority is the Supreme Council of Rulers comprising the absolute rulers of the seven Emirates. Decisions reached by the Council must have the agreement of at least five members, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest members. The council appoints a President to act as Head of State. There are no political parties.

Head of State: President Sheikh Khalifa since 2004.

Head of Government: Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum since January 2006.

Recent history: Following the sudden death of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who had been Prime Minister and Emir of Dubai since 1990, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, his brother, succeeded him in January 2006. Sheikh Mohammed had been the UAE Defence Minister since 1971 and heir apparent to the throne of Dubai since 1995.

Social Conventions
Muslim religious laws should be observed. Women are expected to dress modestly and men should dress formally for most occasions. Alcohol is tolerated, with non-Muslims allowed to drink alcohol in the city's bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels. Smoking is the same as in Europe and in most cases it is obvious where not to smoke, except during Ramadan when it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public.

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