United Arab Emirates, federation of seven emirates along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
The largest of these emirates, Abū Ẓaby (Abu Dhabi), which comprises more than three-fourths of the federation’s total land area, is the centre of its oil industry and borders Saudi Arabia on the federation’s southern and eastern borders. The port city of Dubai, located at the base of the mountainous Musandam Peninsula, is the capital of the emirate of Dubayy (Dubai) and is one of the region’s most vital commercial and financial centres, housing hundreds of multinational corporations in a forest of skyscrapers. The smaller emirates of Al-Shāriqah (Sharjah), ʿAjmān, Umm al-Qaywayn, and Raʾs al-Khaymah also occupy the peninsula, whose protrusion north toward Iran forms the Strait of Hormuz linking the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman. The federation’s seventh member, Al-Fujayrah, faces the Gulf of Oman and is the only member of the union with no frontage along the Persian Gulf.
Historically the domain of individual Arab clans and families, the region now comprising the emirates also has been influenced by Persian culture owing to its close proximity to Iran, and its porous maritime borders have for centuries invited migrants and traders from elsewhere. In the 18th century, Portugal and the Netherlands extended their holdings in the region but retreated with the growth of British naval power there; following a series of truces with Britain in the 19th century, the emirates united to form the Trucial States (also called Trucial Oman or the Trucial Sheikhdoms). The states gained autonomy following World War II (1939–45), when the trucial states of Bahrain and Qatar declared independent statehood. The rest were formally united in 1971, with the city of Abu Dhabi serving as the capital. The stability of the federation has since been tested by rivalries between the families governing the larger states of Abū Ẓaby and Dubayy, though external events such as the Persian Gulf War (1990–91) and an ongoing territorial dispute with Iran have served to strengthen the emirates’ political cohesion.
The emirates comprise a mixed environment of rocky desert, coastal plains and wetlands, and waterless mountains. The seashore is a haven for migratory waterfowl and draws birdwatchers from all over the world; the country’s unspoiled beaches and opulent resorts also have drawn international travelers. Standing at a historic and geographic crossroads and made up of diverse nationalities and ethnic groups, the United Arab Emirates present a striking blend of ancient customs and modern technology, of cosmopolitanism and insularity, and of wealth and want. The rapid pace of modernization of the emirates prompted travel writer Jonathan Raban to note of the capital: “The condition of Abu Dhabi was so evidently mint that it would not have been surprising to see adhering to the buildings bits of straw and polystyrene from the crates in which they had been packed.”
Emirati schoolgirl Alia Al Ketbi is the overall winner for the UAE in the Universal Postal Union 2017 International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People
Dubai: An Emirati student is the overall winner for the UAE in the 2017 International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People, organised by the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
Alia Al Ketbi, 14, won the contest for her moving anti-war letter to the UN secretary-general.
The announcement was made on Monday on the occasion of the World Post Day, at the Emirates Post Group (EPG) head office in Dubai.
Alia, a Grade 8 student of Al Thaqafa Primary and Secondary Education School for Girls, Sharjah, was honoured by Emirates Post. Other letter-writing winners also received certificates and trophies at the awards ceremony.
Monday’s event was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and with the support of UPU.
Two years ago, Alia had won fifth place globally in the contest. She was then praised on social media by Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
“I don’t usually write letters — everything has gone digital now — but I like writing stories. Writing is also important because it is a way to reach important people and inspire change for a better world,” Alia told Gulf News during Monday’s ceremony.
Best postal service
During the ceremony, it was also announced that Emirates Post has been rated as the best postal service in the Middle East. In the latest Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD), a global ranking system that is also categorised by region, the UAE postal service scored the highest in the Middle East. The UPU congratulated Emirates Post for the accomplishment in a statement shared at the event.
The power of ideas and the writing skills of children should not be ignored in today’s fast-paced world, said Abdullah Mohammad Al Ashram, acting CEO, Emirates Post.
“It’s really important to place children in a matter where they can express themselves. Young people today have powerful imagination and they like to think out of the box. They have strong opinions on how they see the world, where it’s going, and what’s going on in their lives, that we grown-ups probably miss because of our busy schedules.”
He added: “This competition for young students was to let them not forget the joy of writing, and how powerful letters can be. With the fast-paced life that we are living, we are missing out on the nice feeling when you receive a letter that is personalised from a loved one.”
Through skilled writing, students can address “very complex situations to highly-placed persons”, said Khalfan Al Marashda, Director, Student Skills Development, Ministry of Education.
Al Marashda added: “In terms of writing skills, it is critical to motivate students to participate in such competitions. These types of skills open the students’ minds and their capacity to express their feelings, share their knowledge, and pushes them to undertake research, especially on global issues, like how to address the UN Secretary-General.”