Although in 1981 the authorities had tried to strengthen
other sectors of the industry, technological discrepancies
with other countries and the relatively modest domestic
market did not allow industrial reform to such an extent as
to obscure the possibilities of a reduced dependence on oil. See
abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of United Arab Emirates.
The country had been included in the Alliance-Free States
Association and had supported the demands of the
Palestinians. At the end of 1986, diplomatic relations were
established with the now disbanded Soviet Union and with the
Benin People's Republic. In 1987, relations with Egypt,
which had been severed since the conclusion of the Camp
David agreement with Israel, were renewed.
Emirates was on the Allies' side during the Gulf War
against Iraq in 1991. Following the end of the war,
industrial reform seemed to get more wind in the sails with
the opening of the free port of Jabel Ali, with more than
260 foreign companies opening branches.
In March 1991, the Gulf Cooperation Council signed a
security agreement with the United States to guarantee peace
in the area by means of a common military strategy and the
establishment of new mechanisms, including: was to prevent
an arms race.
After Syrian mediation, Iran reduced its territorial
requirements on the islands of the Hormuz Strait, which had
been occupied since the 1970s. However, Tehran maintained
the claim of Abu Mussa, but has allowed the displaced Arabs
to return. The conflict is being dealt with by international
bodies, as requested by the Emirates.
Repeated immigrant flows have created a very
heterogeneous population composition. Acc. statistics from
1993 constitute almost a quarter of the Arab population; Of
these, more than half come from other Arab countries, mainly
from Egypt. The rest of the population is made up of
immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and
other African and Asian countries.
All indications are that Islamic fundamentalism increased
its influence in the Emirates during the period 1993-96. The
President of the Union, Sheik Zaid, has on several occasions
- such as at a speech marking the end of the Ramadan in 1993
- expressing concern over "Islamic expansion." In February
1994, Zaid decided to expand Islamic law to deal with
numerous offenses that had hitherto been dealt with by civil
In 1995, new contacts were established to try to resolve
the disputes with Iran over the disputed islands in the
Strait of Hormuz. However, that did not lead to results.
Following US threats to invade Iraq, Sheikh Zaid expressed
that he believed the Iraqi people deserved another chance.
Later he declared that this kind of military action would be
"unacceptable and destabilizing". Domestic policy continued
the line of economic openness, which included led to the
founding of the city of Ra's al-Khaymah in 1998; this is the
Middle East's first free trade zone. The charges against the
government for widespread human rights violations continued
unabated, while the authorities still restrict the rights of
foreigners in a country where 3/4 of the inhabitants are
The fall in oil prices prompted the government to try to
reduce population wastage. To that end, the state began
arranging public weddings at the end of 1999 at a cost of US
$ 16,000 - just a third of traditional private weddings. At
the same time, the subjects were recommended to carefully
study who they married.
On the basis of Islamic law, the Sharia court
sentenced an Indonesian immigrant to stoning - in February
2000 - an Indonesian immigrant - a punishment rarely used in
Together with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the United Arab
Emirates was the only state to recognize the Taliban
government in Afghanistan. In April 2000, the Emirates
decided to reopen their embassy in Baghdad, despite the
previous breach of Iraq.