The United Arab Emirates is a constitutional federation of seven emirates:
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ra's al-Khaimah and Fujairah.
The federation was formally established on 2 December 1971.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected as President on 3 November 2004, following the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who held the post from the foundation of the State on 2 December 1971 until his death on 2 November 2004. The Supreme Council meets at five-year intervals to reaffirm the existing President or elect a new one.
The term of elected office for the Vice-President is also five years, and the post is presently held by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was elected following the death of his brother, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in early 2006.
The federal system of government includes:
The Supreme Council, made up of the rulers of each emirate, is the top policy-making body in the state. If a ruler cannot attend Supreme Council meetings he may delegate his Crown Prince to take his seat. Crown Princes and deputy rulers attending meetings when their ruler is present have no formal role in the Council.
The Council of Ministers or Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, is the executive authority for the federation.
The 40-member Federal National Council has both a legislative and supervisory role. Introduction of indirect elections in December 2006 and the participation of 9 women in the parliament is intended to be the first phase of a process designed to enhance public participation and the role played by the FNC in government. Other steps include a strengthening of the legislative and legal powers of the FNC and the development of more effective and more viable channels of coordination between the FNC and the executive authorities, such as the Cabinet.
The Federal Judiciary, whose independence is guaranteed by the Constitution, includes the Supreme Court and the Courts of First Instance.
Each of the seven emirates has its own local government the complexity of which differs according to the size and population of each emirate. Each follows a general pattern of municipalities and departments.
The relationship between the Federal and Local Governments is laid down in the Constitution, and allows for a degree of flexibility in the distribution of authority.
Traditional Government still plays an important part in the government of the UAE, with the institution of the majlis (or majalis) maintaining a role in ensuring that the people have free access to their rulers.
Foreign Policy, the remit of the UAE Federal Government, is derived from a set of guiding principles, amongst which are a deep belief in the need for justice in international dealings between states, including the necessity of adhering to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others and the pursuit, whenever possible, of peaceful resolution of disputes, together with support for international institutions, such as the United Nations.
Disaster and development aid is an important part of UAE foreign policy, through organisations such as the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, The Zayed Foundation, Red Crescent Society.
List of UAE Government Ministries