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Entertainment Tents to the skyscrapers: The Emirates celebrate their fifty years

00:29  03 december  2021
00:29  03 december  2021 Source:   lepoint.fr

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  Des tentes aux gratte-ciel: les Emirats fêtent leurs cinquante ans © AFP / Archives

E Hab Fouad, 64 years old, was still teenager when he participated fifty years ago at the parade celebrating the birth of the United Arab Emirates , become one of the richest and influential countries of the Gulf.

The Egyptian engineer now retired remembers with emotion on December 2, 1971, when he saw for the first time the flag of the new country and proudly brandished the portrait of the Sheikh Zayed Ben Sultan Al-Nahyane, Father Founder. Emirates.

"Every time I meet people here, I tell them this story," says Fouad. He lives in Dubai, one of the seven emirats of the Federation, with Abu Dhabi, Charjah, Foujaïrah, Ajman, Oum Al-Qaïwaïn and Ras Al-Khaimah, known as the truce states and under British protectorate between 1892 and 1971.

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The Sheikh Zayed, at the head of the oil emirate of Abu Dhabi, the richest among his six neighbors, wished to unite them in trying to build a powerful state.

The country had some 300,000 inhabitants for independence, compared to about 10 million today, including 90% of foreigners, most ineligible for citizenship because of strict rules, such as Mr. Fouad.

With large oil and gas reserves, the Emirates, very poor in 1971, have become a must-see economic and political power in the Middle East.

"Here, some people used to build their homes with branches of dattiers and clay bricks. Today, there are only villas and towers," says Fouad.


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Regional Power

NGOs, however, accuse the emirates of human rights violations, thus that war crimes during the conflict in Yemen , where the Emirates intervened within a coalition led by the Saudi Arabia .

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Despite these accusations, the country attracts many investors and businessmen and attempts to diversify its sources of revenue, including through tourism or finance, in order to be less dependent on the oil manne.

Emirates are a tax haven with a relatively low-tax environment, including total business control by foreigners or offering long-term visa for highly skilled workers, such as doctors, engineers, scientists or artists.

Dubai, ancient perlière city, has changed into an important financial and commercial center, with its skyscraper forests, including the highest tower of the world, Burj Khalifa and its 828 meters.

But the economy of the Emirates, the second of the Arab world behind Saudi Arabia, rests on a low-cost workforce, coming for most of

Asia and Africa , and generally housed in Camps or closed residences.

The country now wishes to assert itself as a regional power, by engaging in conflicts, such as in Yemen, or by acting as a mediator in others, in the Middle East and Africa.

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"Emirates have long been worried about their relative vulnerability, in a region where they are surrounded by larger and more powerful states," says AFP Elham Fakhro, in charge of the Gulf for the Crisis International Analysis Center Group (ICG).

"After independence, the country's foreign policy was relatively neutral, but became more affirmed after the Arab Spring" since 2011, it explains, taking advantage of the relative loss of influence of traditional regional powers such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

Emirates, supporters of a hard line with regard to political Islam, took the surprise decision in 2020 to publicize publicly their relations with Israel, thus before the first Arab country with Bahrain to establish diplomatic links with the Hebrew state for decades.

"As a regional and international actor committed, we know we need to assume more responsibility for the future orientation of our region," said Anwar Gargash, presidential advisor, at a forum in November.

02/12/2021 12:04:56 - Dubai (AFP) - © 2021 AFP

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