The paper summarizes the process of forming and institutionalizing of the United Arab Emirates federation by the Trucial States. The author focused on the involvement of Britain, local contribution, and challenge the Trucial states encountered before and after forming the federation.
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According to the author, the Trucial States faced many challenges that affected the formation of the UAE federation. One of the challenges was the unplanned withdrawal of the British. The British left without making arrangements with local rulers forcing the Trucial States to rely on the existing traditional structures and institutions. For instance, the model for the supreme council of rulers, the Trucial states Development council, and the Trucial Oman scouts was adopted as the basis upon which the federation was established.
Another challenge was the unsettled issue of disputed borders. Though Britain had helped these states to reach some agreement, everything collapsed upon their untimely withdrawal. Another challenge was the difficulty of reaching out to all the seven Trucial states. Out of the seven states, it was not clear as to who would be interested in joining the federation. The other challenge was the issue of powerful neighbors surrounding these states. Iran was entangled in ownership row with some states such as Abu Musa. The other claimant was Saudi Arabia, who had for a long time asserted claims to some parts of Abu Dhabi.
Nevertheless, under the great leadership of all of the seven states, the UAE federation was formed. Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, was instrumental in the processes leading to the formation of the federation. He offered assistance in the form of institutional and financial support to all Trucial States. Most importantly, through the ‘Abu Dhabi Fund for Development,’ he was able to provide aid to the Trucial States. The other great advantage was the harmony in which the rulers of the seven states conducted their affairs. Because of their transparency, people trusted their leaders, and every decision they made was quickly implemented.
Without wasting much time, the leaders embarked on their first responsibility-enacting the constitution. The constitution was to act as a platform for institutionalization. It espoused some values from the Western countries and local formulas for administering power. For instance, the Federal Supreme Council was established and had political authority, executive authority, and parliamentary responsibilities.
Each ruler of the Trucial states had a single vote on legislative matters. However, the veto powers were given to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai because of their contributions towards the establishment of the union. With the veto powers, it meant that other states would not transact serious business without the consent of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The newly established union also faced some challenges. Sheikh Khalid, the ruler of Sharjah, was assassinated in 1972. Also, there was a border dispute between Fujairah and Sharjah. But the union was able to assert its power by intervening successfully in both cases.
Further stability was provided by the able leadership of Zayed. He was able to bring together all of the seven states especially those that wanted to quit. He also made sure that wealth generated from oil was shared equally amongst member states. Through this, the seven states, previously poor became wealthy in a short period of time. In general, the United Arab Emirates became a federation or union of seven states in 1971. This was after the withdrawal of the British from the region.