The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven monarchies ruled alternately by a president chosen from one of the emirates. The UAE, among the more moderate Arab regimes, has the sixth-largest oil reserve in the world, though that reserve is concentrated in Abu Dhabi. The UAE is also among the richest nations in the world, holding some $1 trillion in overseas investments.
2. Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi city, an island some 800 feet from the mainland, is the capital city of the UAE, with an estimated population of 900,000 in 2010. The Emierate of Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates, stretching over 80 percent of the UAE's 83,600 square miles.
Relative to other regions of the Arab world, especially on the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is more relaxed in social mores and culturally attuned to Western tastes.
Ajman is the smallest of the seven federated emirates that form the UAE. Ajman's area sprawls over 260 square kilometers. The emirate's population has beene xploding since the 1980s. It is now around 235,000.
Sharjah is one of the oldest human settlements on the planet, its history dating back five millenniums, making it one of the emirates' richest cultural enclaves. Sharjah is the UAE's cultural and literary hub, and one of its principal tourist destinations.
6. Al Fujayrah
Al Fujayrah was once part of another Emirate, Sharjah. It took its independence from Sharjah in 1952. Since 1974, Al Fujayrah has been ruled by Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, who rules over the Emirate autocratically. The emirate is dominated by the al-Sharqi tribe.
Ras el Khaima, Arabic for "top of the tent," has no oil or gas, but appeals to companies looking to establish off-shore operations to evade taxation or other forms of financial regulation and oversight. Foreign companies may not conduct business with local customers, but they are exempt from taxation and welcome to invest locally.