This Middle Eastern nation, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia, consists of seven emirates known as the Trucial States. Each is led by an emir. They are: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaiwain.

The federation formed in 1971 after the British withdrew from the Persian Gulf and is led by a president and prime minister in addition to the emirs who oversee their local governments. Also among the Trucial States but not part of the federation are Bahrain and Oman, which chose to remain independent nations.

The capital city is Abu Dhabi (400,000), although Dubai is also a major city (700,000). National population is slowly approaching 3 million.

The ethnic makeup of the nation is quite interesting. About a third are Arabs (Emirates, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, and Yemenis). About 60% come from South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). The remainder include, among other elements, Filipinos and Iranians. Emirati nationals account for only about 20% of the population.

Thanks to considerable oil reserves, the Emirates are enormously wealthy. Per capita income is nearly US$20,000. The government has attempted to diversify the national economy in response to declining oil prices. This has led to the growth of industry, construction, commerce, free trade zones, transportation, tourism, farming, fisheries, and communications. Higher education is viewed by the government as a major instrument for development. The UAE has one of the highest ratios of students entering higher education in the world.

Two thirds of the nation is Muslim, followed by Hindus at 17% and Christians at about 9%. As is the norm throughout the Middle East, evangelization of Muslims is not permitted. My visits to the UAE (so far) have taken place in July 2009, January 2011, and May 2014.

Would you pray for the Emirates today?

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