UAE: Historical Overview                                          

5500 BC                   

The earliest known human habitation in the UAE dated from the Neolithic period.


3000 BC                   

Copper trade in the Hajar Mountains.


1st Century              

Caravan traffic between Syria and cities in southern Iraq.



The arrival of envoys from the Prophet Muhammad began the conversion of the region to Islam.


16th Century           

Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean in the early 16th century following Vasco da Gama's route of exploration led to battle with the Ottomans up the coast of the Arabian Gulf. The Portuguese controlled the area for 150 years in which they conquered the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula. Vasco da Gama was helped by Ahmad Ibn Majid (image) (a navigator and cartographer from Julfar) to find the route of spices from Asia. Portions of the UAE came under the direct influence of the Ottoman Empire.


17th Century to 19th Century           

The region was known to the British as the Pirate Coast, as raiders based there harassed the shipping industry despite both European and Arab navies patrolling the area.



Before the UAE’s independence, it was known as the Trucial States of the Persian Gulf. By signing a treaty, the Trucial States granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs.



Petroleum (photo) was found in most of the Emirates, leading to commercial exploitation of oil. The British helped in the development of the area. The Trucial States Council was formed by the sheiks of the Emirates in order to coordinate the development.



The British ended the treaty with the Trucial States. Thus, the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi agreed to form a union.



Six Trucial States merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE).



Ra's al Khaymah joined the UAE.



Falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard.


Present Day           

The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. For more than three decades, oil and global finance have driven the UAE's economy.