Motto: لا إله إلا الله، محمد رسول الله
Official Language: Arabic
State Religion: Sunni Islam
Government: Semi-Constitutional Monarchy
- King: Sultan bin Ahmed Al Subaai
- Crown Prince: Rashid bin Ahmed Al Subaai
- Council of State
Emirate of Dammam founded: 1759
Kingdom founded: 1954
Land Area: 2,362,532 km˛
GDP (nominal): $1.575 trillion (2019)
GDP (nominal) per capita: $29,938
Human Development Index: 0.863
Currency: Diadochi Dirham
Time Zone: UTC + 3
Drives on the: right
Calling code: +990
Internet TLD: .ae
The United Emirates of Diadochi is a nation in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and governing the numerous territories controlled by the Al-Subaai family. The government is led by the King, who holds the title of Prime Minister and selects all the remaining ministers. The King and the other most ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Council of Ministers, or Cabinet. The Cabinet is the ultimate decision-making body of the executive in traditional constitutional theory. The government is responsible for administrating the United Emirates (UED) which rules the majority of the Arabian Peninsula.
The introduction of indirect elections represents the beginning of a process to modernize the UED's system of government. Under these reforms, individual governors select an electoral college whose members total 100 times the number of MPs held by that Emirate. The members of each college then elect half of the MPs, while the other half continue to be appointed by each governor. The most recent elections occurred in 2015. The process resulted in an parliament in which nearly one-quarter of its members are women – including the body’s president, Dr. Layla Al Sheribani.
Future initiatives are expected to expand the size of the Council of State and strengthen the interaction between it and the Council of Ministers, to further improve the efficiency, accountability and participatory nature of government. In November 2012, the term for MPs was extended from two to four years, which is more consistent with other parliaments in the world. In addition, the government will report to the Council of State about proposed international treaties and agreements, and those agreements will be discussed by the Council of State before their ratification.
Historically, the political environment of the UED has been characterized by great affection for the country’s leadership and institutions of government. This is largely in response to the rapid growth and development the UED has experienced under their guidance in recent decades.
During the war between the Al Saud family (Emirs of Nejd) by the Al Rashid family (Emirs of Ha'il) in the 1890s, the new Emir of Dammam, Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Subaai, sided with the Al Rashid family, which managed to push the Al Saud's into exile in Kuwait. In this vacuum, the Emir seized Riyadh, the capital of the Al Saud family, establishing it as a territory of Dammam. In 1903, the Al Subaai reached an agreement with the UK to support their family instead of the Al Saud or Al Rashid. Emir Khalifa used this European support to defeat the Al Rashid, seizing Ha'il (modern-day Ha'il, Tabuk, and Medina provinces), and was subsequently put to death by the rulers of Mecca. His son, Rashid bin Khalifa in turn declared an Arab revolt against outsider intervention in the region. After the conclusion of World War I, the Al Subaai annexed Mecca, and invaded Jizan to the south. By 1919, they controlled the majority of the Arabian Peninsula, save for Yemen and Oman, and the numerous sheikhdoms and emirates controlled by the United Kingdom in the East.
In 1949, Rashid bin Khalifa died, passing the Emirate to his eldest son, Ahmed. The new Emir, capitalizing on recent oil discoveries in Dammam, modernized and secularized the government. In 1953, Emir Ahmed established the numerous Al-Subaai holdings as emirates, and declared the creation of the United Emirates of Diadochi, with himself as King. He chose his closest advisor and brother, Sheikh Khalid, as Emir of Dammam while he moved the capital to Jeddah, a small sea-side city near Mecca, Islam's holiest city. He then appointed his remaining brothers accordingly; Riyadh to Mohammed, Medina to Saud. He further appointed his three brother-in-laws, Saud bin Abdullah in Ha'il, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah in Jizan, and Mansour bin Abdullah in Tabuk.
Eighteen years later, in 1971, the UK would end its colonial empire in Arabia, establishing numerous independent sheikhdoms on the Eastern coast. King Ahmed would coerce and bribe the royal families of each to renounce their claims, succeeding in claiming all the independent emirates by 1973. He appointed his two remaining brothers, Salman and Essa, who had been children when he established the original emirates, as Emirs of Kuwait and Dubai, respectively. Believing that the oil-rich Emirate of Abu Dhabi was too valuable to allow one of his brothers to govern, the King appointed his maternal uncle Ahmed as Emir.
In October 2009, at the age of 81 and after 60 years of ruling, King Ahmed passed away in Europe, after a long-term battle with lung cancer. His eldest son, Sultan bin Ahmed succeeded him at the age of 51. The new government, led by King Ahmed's European educated sons, would liberalize its society. In 2010, two months after assuming office, King Sultan announced his Vision 2020 plan to modernize the Emirati economy, progress its social aspects, and establish for the first time a consultative council to act as a parliament.
Under the UED system of government, the King is simultaneously Head of State and Government, holding the additional title of Prime Minister. The King can issue Royal Decrees, which are only recommended to be used in certain and extreme cases, and not a commonality. He holds the power to sack Ministers, and he can declare war as long as the Cabinet is consulted first. The King is the Head of State and represents the country internally, externally and in all international relations. He is the nation’s chief diplomat, and has the ultimate authority over foreign policy. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, which he supervises with the assistance of Ministry of Defense. The judicial authority is vested in courts of law and Ministry of Justice; and court judgments are proclaimed in the name of the King. He has the sole prerogative to appoint Governors to the individual emirates.
The Cabinet has both legislative and executive powers. In addition to planning and ratifying federal laws, the Cabinet. The Cabinet is formed by an Royal Decree, and ministers are specifically chosen by the King. The responsibilities and authorities of the ministers and government departments are specified according to the law. The Cabinet– being the supreme executive authority in the country – is mandated to monitor all internal and external affairs within its jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law.
In addition to the Council of Ministers, a 40-member parliament known as the Council of State also examines proposed new legislation and provides advice to the Cabinet, as required. The parliament is empowered to call and question Ministers in regard to their own performance, providing an additional degree of accountability to the system. Groundbreaking developments to open up decision-making were made in December 2006, with the first indirect election of members of parliament.
The legal structure in the UED operates through two systems: the Federal Judiciary presided by the High Council of Justice as the highest judicial authority in the UED and the local judicial departments at the local government level. At the federal level, Ministry of Justice oversees courts and prosecution departments across the UED. It appoints judges and licenses lawyers, experts and legal translators. Since Diadochi is an Islamic state, its judicial system is based on Islamic law (Sharia) for both criminal and civil cases. At the top of the legal system is the King, who acts as the final court of appeal and as a source of pardon.
The UED's judicial system is derived from the civil law system and Sharia law. The court system consists of civil courts and Sharia courts. According to Human Rights Watch, UED's criminal and civil courts apply elements of Sharia law, codified into its criminal code and family law. Sharia courts in the UED have a significant amount of authority. Flogging is a punishment for criminal offenses such as adultery, premarital sex and alcohol consumption, though in practice due to the requirement of having three adult male Muslim witnesses in Sharia courts, those found guilty are more oftentimes given hefty fines, followed by deportation (if non-citizen).
Sharia law dictates the personal status law, which regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody. The Sharia-based personal status law is applied to Muslims and sometimes non-Muslims. Non-Muslim expatriates can be liable to Sharia rulings on marriage, divorce and child custody. Sharia courts have exclusive jurisdiction over family law cases and also have jurisdiction over some criminal cases including adultery, premarital sex, robbery and related crimes. Apostasy is a crime punishable by death in the UED. The Kingdom incorporates Hudood crimes of Sharia into its Penal Code – apostasy being one of them. Article 1 and Article 66 of UED's Penal Code requires Hudood crimes to be punished with the death penalty, therefore apostasy is punishable by death in the UED. During the month of Ramadan, it is illegal to publicly eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Exceptions are made for pregnant women and children. The law applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, and failure to comply may result in arrest. Dancing in public is illegal in the UED.
The Armed Forces consists of four branches, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Royal Guard, all administered under the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also maintains a large paramilitary counter-terrorism force, known as the National Guard. The military is one of the best funded in the world, with current defense spending at $98,250,000,000 a year, accounting for nearly 5% of the national GDP, and making the Emirates the world's second largest importer of arms. As of 2019, the Armed Forces number 608,000 active personnel, along with 155,000 reserves. Most equipment is American, British, French, and Japanese from the Post-Cold War era (1990s), with government initiatives to maintain modern equipment.
The economy of the Diadochi is the largest in the Middle East, with a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.575 billion in 2018. Diadochi has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities in energy policy. It possesses an estimated 35% of the world's petroleum reserves, with 490,999 proven reserves. It ranks as the largest exporter in the world of petroleum. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Diversification of the economy has been the most important aspect of the government policy Vision 2020, established in 2010, which aimed to establish the Emirates as one of the top economies in the world, and improve all aspects of economic freedoms and social policy in the Kingdom.
Culture of the Emirates
Islam is the official religion of the United Emirates, and the Kingdom is home to the religion's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Virtually all Emirati citizens are Muslims; approximately 85% are Sunni and 15% are Shia, while there are smaller number of Ismaili Shias and Ahmadi. Foreigners are predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, although there are substantial numbers from the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, the former Commonwealth of Independent States, and North America. The Al Subaai royal family adheres to the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence from the Uyunid dynasty, whom spread of the Maliki school came by the command of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Uyuni.
Critics of the regime maintain that although the government has opened up the economy and liberalized society, including women's rights, that no meaningful action has been taken to ensure political liberties, with governance ultimately remaining in the hands of the Al Subaai family, with the most important positions (King, Crown Prince, Foreign, Internal, and Defense ministers) held by royals without parliamentary oversight. Critics have also claimed that the liberalization of society has not gone far enough, in terms of freedom of religion, sexual orientation, and consensual intercourse; and that women do not have the right to legally marry without the approval of their families and may not marry a non-muslim. The King has continued to insist the right of every nation to modernize and liberalize at its own pace, and in respect of its social norms and customs, and advocates for the ability to enact progressive policy without necessarily having to adopt western custom.