In the modern United Arab Emirates, there are seven Emirates, or regions, all with differing rulers and royal families. The seven Emirates within this fascinating country are: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras-al-Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain. From these different regions, an existing ruler, or Emir, is elected to act as the President/Head of State of the United Arab Emirates.
At this point in time, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, of Abu Dhabi, is the President/Head of State of the United Arab Emirates. All rulers of the UAE also make up the Federal Supreme Council, which creates legislation and law within the country.
The first leader of the United Arab Emirates, considered the "Father" of the nation, was His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (also the father of the current leader), who passed away in 2004. This article will explore each Emirates' current rulers, who are also known as Emirs.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has ruled the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the entire United Arab Emirates since 2004, succeeding his father. Sheikh Khalifa has presided over great improvements in Abu Dhabi especially creating efficient government services, as well as creating legislation in order to open up the region for foreign investments. Abu Dhabi is actually the richest emirate in the UAE, and has helped Dubai financially in the past. Dubai re-named the highest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, after Sheikh Khalifa himself, due to the generosity shown during tough financial times.
Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi became the Emir of Ajman when his father died on September 6, 1981. He had been the deputy ruler since 1960. At the age of 86, Sheikh Humaid has overseen, and been a part of an amazing transformation in Ajman within his lifetime. Ajamn is the smallest Emirate in the UAE at only 100 square miles. It has evolved from a small fishing village into a modern township with a population of 240,000.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the most well-known of the UAE Royals. This is due the Sheikh's ambassadorship - he is always promoting the city when overseas. When he takes part in his various high profile interests, such as international horse racing and breeding, he is seen as the epitome of Dubai and what the city encompasses: a rich, well presented, high-class individual. He is also the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates. During his education in the United Kingdom, Sheikh Mohammed started to formulate his ideas about the ideal society within Dubai and the UAE. This ideology included political discourse, sport, the military, as well as the arts. These areas have developed rapidly in Dubai since his inception as leader in 2006. Due to the foresight of the Sheikh, the tourism sector has been developed heavily in the past decade, although this is partly due to the realization that oil is a finite commodity.
Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, before becoming the Emir of Fujairah, was a Miniter of Agriculture and Fisheries, until he took over the leadership of the Emirate in 1974. Sheikh Hamad, following UAE Royal family tradition, was educated in the United Kingdom and attended the Eastbourne School of English, and the Mons Military Academy. Due his his stellar grasp of both English and Arabic, Sheikh Hamad has represented the President of the UAE on many occasions upon the world stage. Fujairah is known as a get-away spot for residents of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, due to the cooler climate and mountainous terrain, perfect for off road driving.
Sharjah & Ras-al-Khaimah
These 2 Emirates are ruled by one family, the Al Qasimis. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi is the Emir of Sharjah (since 1972), and Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi is the Emir of Ras-al-Khaimah (since 2010) respectively. Sharjah is the third largest Emirate in the UAE and has a population of 1.4 million people. Ras-al-Khaimah has a significantly smaller population at 265,000. Sheikh Sultan (Sharjah) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering, a Doctorate in Philosophy and second Doctorate in Philosophy of Political Geography. This education has allowed him to develop Sharjah`s universities and economy, as well as preserving important Islamic sites and history in the Emirate. Sheikh Saud (Ras-al-Khaimah), since 2010, has run a stable government, also focusing on the development of education and healthcare in Ral-al-Khaimah. He has also overseen a huge economic expansion of the small Emirate, establishing a free-trade zone within the city.
Umm Al Quwain
Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’alla has ruled this Emirate since 2009 (after the death of his Father). Umm Al Quwain is of significant interest archaeologically, as humans have lived in this area for thousands of years. It is also home to the largest undisturbed coastal area in United Arab Emirates. A lot of tourists from the bigger Emirates will visit Umm Al Quwain to get away from city life and experience untouched nature. This has lead to a conscious effort by the government of Umm Al Quwain to preserve certain areas as well as important cultural sites. Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’alla has always held the preservation of history in the highest regard.