United Arab Emirates Political System

Political system

The state formation of the United Arab Emirates, short for AE by Abbreviationfinder, can be described as a federation of seven absolute monarchies in the form of shekh judgments, or emirates. Within each individual emirate lies all the power of the ruler, the emir. Elections to a very limited extent were introduced in 2006. Informal family ties mean more to the exercise of power than official titles and positions.

At independence in 1971, the United Arab Emirates adopted a provisional federal constitution which became permanent in 1996. It states that the seven emirs together constitute a federal council, the Supreme Council, which has the ultimate power of the federation. By decision of the Council, the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have the right to veto.

  • Countryaah: Total population and chart of United Arab Emirates for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.

The Supreme Council appoints the country’s president (hitherto always the emir of Abu Dhabi) and vice president (hitherto always the emir of Dubai) among its seven members. The term of office of the two offices is five years, but the same person can be re-elected an unlimited number of times. Although the head of state formally holds the title of president and is elected by the “states” of emirs, in practice he holds the position of monarch. Consequently, the founder of the state, Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, emir of Abu Dhabi, was succeeded in his death in 2004 by his son Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan, both emir and president.

The president of the federation appoints the prime minister (regularly the emir of Dubai) and the federal government. The government mainly deals with the country’s foreign policy, financial services, communications, postal services and defense.

The Supreme Council also constitutes the legislative assembly.

The Federal National Council discusses legislative proposals and the federal budget. It can also question ministers, but has no legislative power. The Council has 40 members and the term of office is four years. Previously, all council members were appointed by the emir himself, but since 2006 half of them have been elected by electoral colleges whose members are appointed by the state power. The other 20 members are appointed by the emirate in proportion to how many residents they have. The number of members of the electoral colleges has gradually increased. In the 2006 election, only 6,600 people were allowed to vote, in 2011 the figure was close to 130,000 and by 2015 the voting rights had been increased to almost 225,000 residents.

Parties are prohibited and candidates stand for independence.

In each of the emirates, there is no form of election other than the federal one. One constant and sensitive issue is the degree of federal coordination. As younger leaders take over, the trend has moved toward increased federalism, even though setbacks have occurred. In contacts with other countries and within international and regional organizations, the emirate acts as a unit.

The federation consists of seven emirates, governed by six families (Sharjah and Ras al-Khayma are ruled by the same royal house). Changes in the country’s leadership are mainly determined by family relationships. The 1999 marriage between Dubai’s crown prince and the daughter of the emir of Abu Dhabi can be seen as a classic way to tie rival emirates.

United Arab Emirates Urban Population



Election to Federal National Council

The turnout is only 28 percent when elections are held to the Federal National Council. Of the 20 members elected, there is only one woman.


Participants in the network call are arrested

Five of those who participated in the network call in March were arrested, including an economics professor and a well-known blogger who advocated democratic reforms in an Internet discussion forum. Those arrested who will be called “UAE 5” (the five in the United Arab Emirates) are sentenced in November for insulting the country’s leadership, to two and three years in prison respectively. They are already being pardoned the next day by President Khalifa.


Call for general and direct elections

133 academics, journalists and civil rights activists publish a call on the internet calling for the introduction of general and direct elections to the Federal National Council, and that this is given legislative power.

The Emirates participates in Libya efforts

The United Arab Emirates joins the NATO-led flight operation to Libya, where leader Muammar Gaddafi is being driven from power.