United Arab Emirates: the nation that erected skyscrapers in the middle of the desert – National Geographic in Spanish

From being a territory of nomadic Bedouins, the United Arab Emirates became one of the richest countries in the world.

This text on the history of the united arab emirates was published in a special National Geographic in Spanish.

In 1971, the United States invaded Vietnam, Mao’s Cultural Revolution had come to an end, resistance to apartheid apartheid in South Africa and Namibia was intensifying, student movements were questioning power, The Beatles had disintegrated… In the midst of In that political and social upheaval, Chilean Pablo Neruda was receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union—along with a gigantic wave of space discoveries—was at its height, and the first exchange of emails electronics was carried out, an achievement that, at the time, many thought was something insignificant.

Meanwhile, on December 1, 1971 in the Arabian peninsula, on the “instep of the boot”, the union agreement of six emirates was signed: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sarjah, Umm al-Qaywayn and, months later, Ras al-Khaimahthe seventh ally.

We suggest you: Cousins ​​from other lands: what similarities does Mexico share with the United Arab Emirates?

preservation of history

At 1 Jumeirah Street in the city of Dubai, there is a building shaped like curved paper. It is not one more attraction of this exuberant metropolis, but it is the place where one of the most important alliances of the 20th century took place: the birth of a nation.

The etihad museum (union in Arabic) houses the House of the Union, where that agreement was signed and the the first flag of the then new United Arab Emirates (UAE). The colors that wave horizontally are:

  • Greenwhich symbolizes fertility
  • Whitewhat is neutrality
  • Blackwhich means oil wealth
  • Redwhich represents unity.

The site has eight pavilions that recount –with photographs, videos and even personal items from historical figures– the social, political, cultural, scientific and military memory of its background, its formation and consolidation. The curved paper of the construction simulates the manuscript in which the seven emirates signed, which in turn are represented in the same number of pillars that support the building designed by the Canadian firm Moriyama & Teshima.

Also read: Why Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Mosque Is Overflowing With House Cats

From the desert to the skyscrapers

Between 1853 and 1971, what we know today as the UAE belonged to the Truce States, where were also the territories of Qatar and Bahrain. Before the arrival of the British Empire, the region suffered for decades from the abuses of piracy; in fact, It was known as “the coast of the pirates”. Thanks to the alliance agreed with the English, these territories would have protection.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century and facing a world shaken by wars and social movementscertain English protectorates began to prove expensiveso the british crown it began to withdraw in a controlled manner from various regions –as happened in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Kuwait–, but with some enclaves still in operation. Then in 1958 and 1966 significant oil reserves were discovered in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which propelled the independence and union of the emirates.

Also read: So shall ‘The Line’, the new dystopian city in Saudi Arabia

after hydrocarbons

From the growth and exposure of the country thanks to its hydrocarbons, it is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the United Arab Emirates be colossal buildings, artificial islands, cosmopolitan cities and cutting-edge technologybut that is a recent image that, moreover, does not correspond to all the emirates, but only to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and, to a lesser extent, Sarja, since the rest preserve a more austere and classic character.

The UAE is located on a coastal plain crossed by the Rub al-Jali desert, so 97% of the territory is desert, except for the cities, the northern mountainous areas and the oases. The country borders Oman, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

The UAE government is a federal monarchy of seven states (emirates), each ruled by its emir, who could be understood as a “governor”. Without embargo, in this case there is an aristocratic lineage. An emir is a prince. According to tradition, the president resides in and is originally from Abu Dhabi, while the title of prime minister corresponds to the emir of Dubai.

Helicopter view of the Palm Jumeirah in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai. /Getty Images

Gilberto Conde, professor and researcher of the Middle East and North Africa, points out that the growth of the UAE in the middle of the last century was sudden: in a short time there was a profound transformation from a tribal, Bedouin and even semi-nomadic society to a rich, modern and cult of luxury. In times past —and not so far away—, being an emir meant being the head of a family or communal groupbut it was not until the times of the English protectorate that this title acquired the character of royalty.

Starting in 1973, due to the worldwide oil crisis and the increase in its cost, he began to accumulate wealth, which caused the boom of foreign investment –which took advantage of tax-free zones–. This, in turn, led to a robust economy and guaranteed the quality of life of its inhabitants. In addition, being located in the Persian Gulf, they have a strategic step for the maritime oil and gas trade, mainly.

We suggest you: Robes in the desert: what this clothing reveals about the Bedouins, Africa’s last nomadic culture

9 out of 10 people in the United Arab Emirates are immigrants

Today it is considered one of the richest countries in the world. It is the leading producer of oil and natural gas in the Persian Gulf, above Saudi Arabia and Iran; according to the Arab Chamber Mexican Industry and Commerce, Abu Dhabi tops the country’s production list.

Among other achievements, the UAE is the first territory worldwide in 152 development, economy and society indicators of 2021. Likewise, in 2015 they inaugurated the first space agency, which had already launched artificial satellites into orbit, as well as the Hope probe, which successfully reached Mars.

In 2021, the United Arab Emirates had a population of 9 million 991 thousand 083 million inhabitants, of which 90.6% are immigrants, mainly from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

The union of the emirates served the purpose of making them stronger, as well as creating a bridge between the West and the modern, diverse and receptive Arab culture.

This text is authored by Luz Adriana Pérez-Morales, writer at Rio Grande Review at Universidad del Paso, Texas, and for audio platforms such as Himalaya Latam, Podimo Latam, and streaming on Netflix and HBO

Keep reading:

5 cities full of mystery in the Middle East that you should know

Fasting, penance and prayer: this is how Ramadan is celebrated, the holiest festival of Islam

We want to give thanks to the writer of this post for this remarkable web content

United Arab Emirates: the nation that erected skyscrapers in the middle of the desert – National Geographic in Spanish