Historical Periods

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Historical Periods


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The Civilization Of The United Arab Emirates

The Civilization Of The United Arab Emirates

A nation who does not know its past and does not document will neither be able to manage its present nor shape its future. This was emphasized by the founding leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, when he said, “A nation that knows not its past has neither a present nor a future”. We, in the United Arab Emirates, “are not an incidental nation in history” as stated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The history of our homeland spans nearly 7000 years as evidenced by the inscriptions, drawings and archaeological finds uncovered by international missions during the period from the early nineteen fifties to the present day. The historical periods of UAE can be divided as follows:

UAE Civilization in Prehistoric Times:

Firstly, UAE Civilization in Prehistoric Times:
Archaeological excavations began in the United Arab Emirates with the discovery of the tombs of Umm al Nar in Abu Dhabi that had a significant impact in unveiling the UAE deep-rooted history. The various archaeological finds on this island bear witness to the ancient civilizations that flourished in the region for a considerable time, starting from either the Paleolithic or Neolithic Ages (6000 B.C. - 3500 B.C.) up to the end of the Iron Age (1300 B.C. - 300 B.C.). The findings show the following:

1. UAE Civilization in the Neolithic Age (6000 B.C. - 3500 B.C.)

The first evidence of this age was the human settlement in the UAE region. Remains of Bedouin communities were found. These communities lived on fishing and collecting plant.  There were also several mass graves in Jebel Al Buhais in Sharjah and tools and spearheads in Dalma and Marawah islands in Abu Dhabi.
This era was characterized by the emergence of pottery, as evidenced by the numerous finds in Sharjah, Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.  It is believed that such finds date back to what was called the Ubaid period, part of the Neolithic Age, and dates back to the sixth millennium B.C.

2. UAE Civilization in the Bronze Age (3200 B.C. - 1300 B.C.)

This Age is divided into three periods:

A - Jebel Hafeet Period

This period extends from 3200 B.C. to 2500 B.C. and was so named, because of the tombs found in Jebel Hafeet near the Al Ain area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
This period coincides with the booming copper industry.  A multitude of small and hive-shaped tombs were discovered in that region. Ruins of a huge agricultural settlement were found in the Al Ain area, suggesting that people made a living from growing corn and wheat crops.
The most important ruins discovered from this age are the mass graves and the ancient settlements at Jebel Hafeet and the Hili area in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, as well as the mass graves in Jebel Emalah near Al Dhaid area in Sharjah.

B - Umm al Nar Period

This period extends from 2500 B.C. to 2000 B.C. It was named as such after the discovery of the ruins on Umm al Nar Island in Abu Dhabi in the mid-Nineteen Fifties.
About forty mounds, many round tombs and several mass graves were found at the Umm al Nar sites.  Near these tombs, ruins were also found of a settlement with stone houses and stone utensils similar to funeral tools. Other tools, used in cooking, were also found. All of these provide evidence that these houses date back to the same period of the tombs.
Archaeological missions found a house that had seven rectangular rooms.  Pottery fragments of Red utensils, bones of cattle, fish, turtles and camels as well as copper tools were also found.  These artifacts show how the people of that period were dependent on fishing.
The Umm al Nar period represented the apex of the Bronze Age civilization as it established solid trade links with the Mesopotamian civilization and Harappan Civilization in the Indus Valley (now Pakistan).  Its mass tombs are large, circular and made of stone.  There are more than 200 graveyards belonging to that period in different parts of the UAE.
Archaeological missions discovered ruins, similar to those of Umm Al Nar, in the Northern Emirates such as Al Muwaihat in Ajman, Alabrak in Umm al Quwain, Bidya in Fujairah, Kalba in Sharjah and Shamil in Ras al Khaimah.

C – Wadi Suq Period

This period extends from 2000 B.C. to 1300 B.C. and was named after one of the sites in Wadi Suq, between Al Ain and the Omani coast.  The most important archaeological discoveries in this period are a number of tombs, spearheads, pots and gold and silver jewelry in Shamil in Ras al Khaimah, Khorfakkan and Jebel al Buhais in Sharjah and Al Qusais in Dubai.
These finds indicate that such a civilization saw setbacks in this period, possibly due to harsh climatic changes or to the end of the copper trade with Mesopotamia.

D - UAE Civilization in the Iron Age (1300 B.C. - 300 B.C.)
This age extends from 1300 B.C. to 300 B.C.  The archaeological finds show us that the UAE area during this Age was at the apex of its prosperity and civilization.  It was characterized by the introduction of falaj irrigation systems that enabled the extraction of groundwater for continuous cultivation in the dry climate. This period witnessed the first appearance of writing. There are 24 archaeological sites belonging to this Age in the UAE.
The most important archaeological discoveries of this Age are villages that used falaj irrigation system in the areas of Rumaila and Qarn bint Saud in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Althegaibah and Umm Safat in Sharjah, and the large, fortified settlements in Muwaileh and Tell Abraq in Umm al Quwain and Sharjah.

Portuguese Era

Portuguese Era

UAE Civilization during the Western Powers Eras in the Gulf Region


From the rise of Islam until the 16th century, Muslim traders dominated the commerce of the East by land and by sea. The Venetians acquired the major share and the Genoese the minor share of this lucrative trade that crowded the Red Sea and expanded from there to the Mediterranean ports. After 1381, Genoa began to decline, but Venice’s supremacy as the maritime leader in the Mediterranean continued unchallenged. The arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean in 1498 reduced the flow of trade to the Mediterranean and spelled ruin not only for Venice, but also for two other powerful rival states – Egypt and Turkey.
In the 15th century, inspired by the spirit of discovery and a crusading mission to spread Christianity, the Portuguese embarked on an ambitious scheme of military and mercantile activities that paved the way for further expansion and colonization. However, the underlying motive of the Lusitanian Crown (Portuguese) was a desire to control completely the extremely lucrative commerce of the Indian Ocean, particularly the spice trade, by wresting it from the Muslim merchants who controlled it. From their vantage geographical position and with the advantage of their superior nautical skills and advanced shipbuilding industry, the courageous and enterprising people of the Iberian Peninsula were the first Europeans to penetrate the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.
Portuguese expansion in the Indian Ocean started with their campaigns for procuring goods and slaves in Africa’s western coast, south of the Sahara. The voyage of Bartolomeu Dias around Africa’s southern tip in 1487-1488 represented the penultimate act in a chronology of historical events. At about the same time, Portugal acquired vital information about the wealth of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf commercial system from Pedro da Covilhã, who undertook two journeys to investigate the Indian Ocean trade. It was in the course of his second journey that he traveled from Cairo to the Arabian Gulf, visited Hormuz, Aden and Jeddah, sending an extensive report about the Indian Ocean trade back to Portugal.
In 1498, the great explorer Vasco da Gama embarked on his epic voyage around the Cape of Good Hope and landed at the Indian port of Calicut, thereby opening the sea route to India. This single event was destined to revolutionize Oriental commerce, and it led to the militarization of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf and the establishment of Portuguese hegemony over them. Perhaps no other event during the Middle Ages had such far-reaching repercussions on the civilized world as the opening of the sea route to India. Previously, the sea trade from India, via the Gulf and the Red Sea routes, was chiefly in the hands of the Arabs. For centuries, they had succeeded in maintaining this profitable connection uninterrupted, and the predominant mariners of that age hailed from Oman and the coastal Emirates. The Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf were, throughout this period, a peaceful and unarmed waterway, where the commercial communities never aspired to achieve military domination.
It soon became evident that Portugal’s overall strategy in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf was to monopolize its commerce. This meant destroying the Muslim mercantile stratum that constituted a significant segment, and obtaining control of the trade routes by occupying the strategic ports. Da Gama’s voyage had so enhanced Portugal’s stature, that King Manuel I promptly assumed the grand title of ‘Lord of the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India’ and resolved to overthrow Arab commercial supremacy by armed force. The adoption by the Portuguese of the Mediterranean style of trade and warfare by land and sea, took the people of the region by surprise completely.
Three stages characterized the period of the 16th century Portuguese penetration and the establishment of the Estado da India, the Portuguese Empire in the Asian maritime provinces. During the first stage, from 1500 to the end of Afonso de Albuquerque’s governorship in 1515, they fought their way into the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman and established themselves there by force of arms. During the second stage that lasted from 1515 to about 1560, the vice-royalty of Goa reached the height of its maritime power and was able to establish a semi-monopoly of the pepper and spice trade. Through a chain of fortified settlements in the Indian Ocean,  backed up by a regular naval patrol, the Portuguese sought to enforce their monopoly of the commerce by compelling the local traders to buy safe-conduct passes, or cartazes, from the Estado da India and to pay customs duties to it. The final stage witnessed the decline of Portuguese power in the face of indigenous resistance and external competition from other European powers.
The early decades of the 16th century witnessed the foundation of the Portuguese Empire with Lisbon’s single-minded determination to seize the most profitable ports in East Africa, the Malabar Coast, the Konkan Coast, the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca. Albuquerque captured Socotra in 1507, as a base for blockading the Red Sea, and then turned his attention to Hormuz, which commanded the entrance to the Arabian Gulf, in order to wrest both of these important trade routes from Muslim hands. Since 1507, the Portuguese managed to strangle Oman’s maritime commerce by controlling several key mercantile ports and cities in the Gulf. These ports included Julfar (now the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah in the UAE) and Khasab, and the coastal towns between Ras al Hadd and the Musandam peninsula. The ports in this latter area included Sur, Quriyat, Muscat, Muttrah, Sib, Sohar, Khorfakkan, Dibba and Lima.
Qalhat, on the coast of Oman, welcomed Albuquerque, but Quriyat and Muscat were sacked because they resisted and Sohar, though protected by great forts, surrendered without resistance. But Khorfakkan (a town in the modern Emirate of Sharjah), which was then a busy and flourishing port, suffered the same fate as Muscat.
The town was captured and set on fire and all buildings were razed to the ground, women and children were taken prisoners and several men were put to death. Albuquerque described Khorfakkan as “a very large place” and as a town with very good houses in which there lived many wealthy merchants from India. There were large stables for horses that were exported to India. In the interior, there were estates with well-built houses, many fruit and vegetable trees, as well as numerous water pools used for irrigation. In the harbor, there were fishing boats and nets.
The arrival of the Portuguese marked a turning point in the history of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf for many reasons. Through the first half of the 16th century, they sought to establish their exclusive sovereignty in the Indian Ocean by removing the Muslim traders and by imposing the system of cartazes, or naval passes, with their superior, well-armed ships over the unarmed Muslim merchant vessels. The transfer of eastern trade from the hands of the Arabs of the Gulf, who for centuries had been a seafaring race, marked the beginning of the area’s economic decline. On the European side, the Portuguese diverted the pepper and spice trade from the main traditional emporia of Alexandria and Venice to Lisbon and Antwerp for distribution to the rest of Europe.
The Portuguese, in fact, played a significant role in transforming not only the direction of the Indian Ocean trade system, but also its fundamental character and composition from what it had been between 600 and 1500 A.D. They took over the role of intermediary for trade between the ports of the Indian Ocean from the members of the indigenous mercantile strata. These transformations affected the local Arab commercial communities, along with those from the other Indian Ocean societies. Under the impact of their encroachment and domination, the commercial Arab societies in the Gulf left the coast and temporarily retired into the interior, and many old mercantile cities of Oman and the rest of the Arabian Gulf declined.
Throughout the 17th century, the Portuguese hold on the Arabian shore grew progressively weaker. Several factors contributed to the decline of the Portuguese hegemony in the Arabian Gulf. An important contributory cause was the ongoing indigenous resistance to the Portuguese occupation of the Gulf ports and their economic strangulation of the commercial communities of the region. Two major concerted uprisings against Portuguese hegemony along the Arabian shore had taken place earlier in 1521 and in 1526, in which Hormuz, Bahrain, Qalhat, Sohar and Muscat were involved. In 1602, Shah Abbas I, the ruler of Persia, succeeded in driving the Portuguese out of Bahrain and Hormuz was captured in 1622 by a joint Anglo-Persian military operation. For the Portuguese, the fall of Hormuz was a symbolic defeat for the Estado da India.
In the same year, the Persians seized Khorfakkan, but were ejected from there by the Portuguese Admiral Ruy Freire da Andrada in 1623. Shortly afterwards, Ruy Freire was himself displaced by an Arab force under the first Imam of the Ya’arabi dynasty of Oman, Nasir bin Murshid. Muscat and the Oman coast were ultimately seized from Portugal by the force of a national drive created by the rise of this new Arab dynasty. Ya’arabi forces under Imam Nasir bin Murshid also ousted the Portuguese from Julfar and Dibba in 1633, where the Portuguese had built forts earlier, and retook Sohar in 1643. Under the leadership of the new Imam, Sultan bin Saif, the fight continued until Muscat, the last Portuguese stronghold, was recaptured in 1650. By the end of the 16th century both Britain and Holland began to show an interest in forging direct trading links with the East. The arrival of English and Dutch ships in the Indian Ocean as commercial rivals for the mastery of the sea represented the greatest challenge that the Portuguese had to face in Asia. In the end, this contest proved fatal to their power and economic prosperity and led to the decline and fall of their Eastern Empire.
Although the Portuguese power declined in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf, their chroniclers and missionaries left behind detailed accounts and narratives about their progress in the East. A large number of documents, in print and manuscript form, shed valuable light on contemporary local Arab affairs and contain exciting information about places, persons and events relating to the modern UAE. The principal geographical text from the first half of the 17th century is The Travels of Pedro Teixeira. The only references to Umm al Quwain in the early times is found in the book of Balbi, the Venetian jeweler, and in the Portuguese book of Duarte Barbosa who referred to it as “Malquehoan”.
For nearly a century and a half, the Portuguese held supreme, though not unchallenged, control in the Gulf. The Ottoman conquest of parts of the Middle East posed a challenge to the Portuguese from time to time. However, they could not expel the Portuguese permanently from either the Arabian Gulf or the Indian Ocean because of their rivalry with Safavid Persia with whom the Portuguese had pursued a policy of cooperation against the Ottomans. It was not until the rise of the Ya’arabi movement in the beginning of the 17th century that Oman was finally liberated from Portuguese domination.
One of the best-known places in the region, Julfar is featured prominently in a great many European documents of the 17th and 18th centuries. Particularly fascinating are the accounts of this prosperous port-city in the Portuguese documents and narratives. One of the earliest Portuguese sources was The Book of Duarte Barbosa which described Julfar as a “very large place where there are many and honourable people and great merchants and navigators who fish for aljofar, or seed pearls, and many large pearls which the merchants of Ormuz come to buy”. After Julfar, Racoima (modern Ras al Khaimah) is mentioned by the same source as a “very big place”. The pearling industry of Julfar is mentioned by the early Portuguese traveler Pedro Teixeira, who wrote that a fleet of 50 terradas sailed from there each July and August to fish for pearls off the coast of Qatar and Bahrain. He added that Julfar had given its name to a type of pearl found in local waters. In his Decades De Barros, he gave a detailed account of the revenue and expenditure of Hormuz under Portuguese occupation and mentioned that the Julfar district paid 7,500 ashrafis, which was the largest amount paid. Moreover, there are descriptions and old drawings of several Portuguese fortresses that were established at Dibba, Bidya, Khorfakkan and Kalba, which are parts of the UAE today.


Dutch Era

Dutch Era

The Dutch had obtained a concession for a while in Mocha, a Yemeni port on the Red sea, yet compared to the Red Sea, both the Dutch and the English companies had a much greater measure of success in the Gulf. The loss of Hormuz by the Portuguese in 1622 marked the entry of the Dutch and the English to the Middle Eastern markets where they wanted to concentrate their trade at Basra and Gombroon (modern Bandar Abbas). For the next 150 years, Bandar Abbas was to become the center of Dutch, British and French commercial and political activities in the Gulf. Initially, the Dutch had gained their foothold in the Gulf because of a joint action with the British. However, the two powers soon became rivals with an intensification of competition, especially after 1622 when the English East India Company moved its Gulf factory to Bandar Abbas, and the Dutch refused to pay them customs duty. Before long, the Dutch trading station at Bandar Abbas became more active and successful than the English station and they started a considerable trade with the Gulf region in sugar, spices, Indian cotton textiles, copper and iron.
In 1623, the Dutch concluded an agreement for the trade in silk with Shah Abbas I, under which they obtained the right of free trade on the Persian side of the Gulf in exchange for an annual purchase of a fixed amount of silk from the king. In addition to their main office in Bandar Abbas, the Dutch had a few smaller offices; usually one in Isfahan, and sometimes in places like Lar, Kerman, Bushire and Shiraz. Between 1623 and 1630, the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company), or VOC, earned an enormous profit from the trade in Persian commodities, mainly silks. These silks made the Persian trade in those years more profitable than any other Dutch factory in the Indian Ocean system except for their trade system in Batavia. During the 17th century, their other Gulf offices in Basra and Muscat were of minor economic importance and were staffed only during the trading season.
By the 17th century, the Dutch had become the dominant naval power in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. The Persians permitted the British and Dutch to trade in their country because they expected military aid furthering their ambitions of regional dominance. Thus, the English and Dutch were bound by an alliance of sorts with Persia, and their economic interests in the Gulf were based on the trade privileges, which they secured from the latter. 
After securing its independence from Spain in 1648, the commercial activities of the VOC went on almost uninterrupted for about a hundred years of prosperity and success. The seizure of Muscat by the Arabs in 1650 from the control of the Portuguese was another event in favor of the Dutch. Shortly afterwards, several ships from Holland arrived at their factory in Gombroon (Bandar Abbas) which further augmented their trade and temporarily gave them the preponderance in the Gulf trade. Meanwhile, the Dutch, who had been at odds with the Persians about the trade in silk and were anxious to evade their customs, were offered a proposal, probably by Sultan bin Saif, the Imam of Muscat, to change the entire trade route. The plan was to carry merchandise by caravans from Qatif, a coastal area to the north of Qatar, along a road parallel to the coast through the areas of the Bani Yas and the Bani Khalid, to a port outside Portuguese control. The Chief of the Dutch factory, however, declined the offer with thanks. 
With the outbreak of the Anglo-Dutch war in Europe in 1652, the English lost their Arabian Gulf factories at Bandar Abbas and Basra to the Dutch. By gaining these factories, the VOC became the chief supplier of spices in Persia and the Arabian Gulf, which was a major reason for the Company’s commercial success there. In 1666, the Dutch entered into relations with Oman and, for a short while, there was an establishment of the VOC in Muscat. Records of imports into Persia and the Gulf confirm that the Dutch were deeply involved in inter-Asian trade. Thus by the mid-17th century, the Dutch had succeeded in expelling the East India Company from the greater part of the Arabian Gulf and, by 1680, they were firmly established both at Basra and Bandar Abbas.
The Dutch arrived in the Indian Ocean; thus asserting the freedom of navigation in the high seas and refuting the Papal decree of exclusive control of the Indian Ocean by Portugal. Like the Portuguese, the VOC and the English East India Company continued to use force as a method of procuring trade agreements and factory rights in Indian Ocean ports and adopted the Portuguese system of protection passes in order to facilitate their commercial ambitions at the expense of the local Indian Ocean mercantile communities. The Dutch and the English merchants took over the inter-port and export trade from the Indian Ocean system that in turn, led to the export of greater volumes of exotic merchandise to European markets. The prosperity from trade ushered in a new era known as the “Golden Age” in the Netherlands that witnessed all-round progress and development in the fields of arts and crafts. On the other side, the Gulf’s indigenous long-distance mercantile operations declined, resulting in the decline of the old commercial cities of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, and the rise of new cities like Muscat, Bandar Abbas and Bushire.
By the 1750s, Dutch power weakened because of the three-way warfare between them, the English and the French and they lost their holdings in most of the Indian Ocean with the exception of the Indonesian Archipelago. In the Gulf, the VOC’s factories in Bushire, Bandar Abbas and Basra were weakened by British competition, increased taxation levied by the Governor of Bushire and deteriorating relations with the Ottoman authorities. Consequently, the Dutch closed these factories in 1753.
After the closure of the three Gulf factories, the Dutch sought to preserve their position in the Arabian Gulf. They occupied the island of Kharg, which was offered to them by Mir Nasr of the Za’ab tribe, the Arab ruler of Bandar Rig. The Dutch strengthened their position there by erecting a fortress and a factory and took over the various economic activities of the indigenous Arab population including pearl fisheries. These activities led to the outbreak of resistance by the local Arab population under the leadership of Mir Muhanna who succeeded in liberating Kharg Island from the Dutch in 1766. This event was the first in the history of the Gulf Arabs to be reported in a newspaper that also mentioned, for the first time, the name of an Arab Sheikh, Mir Muhanna. The victory of Mir Muhanna marked the end of the VOC presence in the Arabian Gulf. Dutch merchants, however, continued trading between Dutch establishments in Asia and the Gulf and a considerable amount of shipping continued to sail between Muscat and Dutch Malabar.
The appearance of the Europeans in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf not only led to a radical transformation of the structure and direction of oriental commerce, but also substantially added to the historiography of the subject. The depth of documentation and information left behind by the Portuguese was further enriched in the subsequent centuries by the massive records of the Dutch and English companies. Though dealing mainly with the Indian Ocean commercial system, these documents also contain graphic and detailed descriptions of the society and polity of the region. Dutch documents are of particular significance to the history of the UAE as they abound with invaluable information on a variety of subjects relating to the area. The name of Julfar (now Ras al Khaimah) appeared in a Dutch document as early as 1634 in the context of offering help to the Arabs who were fighting against the Portuguese there and in Muscat. That the coast of the Arabian Peninsula had its own long-distance shipping is attested to by a diary written in 1646, which refers to the arrival of a ship carrying sugar from Julfar to Basra.
The Dutch documents contain fascinating accounts regarding the emergence of the Al Qasimi rule. Sheikh Rahma bin Matar is mentioned as the Emir of Julfar shortly after 1718 when he was involved in the siege of the island of Hormuz. He is mentioned again in 1728 as one of the richest and most influential Arab merchants and the ruler of Julfar. Many years later, the Dutch documents confirmed that Sheikh Rahma had been recognized as the hereditary ruler of Julfar by Nadir Shah (1740). Tiddo Frederik van Kniphausen, the Resident of the VOC factory on Kharg Island, described Julfar “as a considerable town, fortified in local style, provided with some ordnance, and which is inhabited by the tribe of Huwala called Quassum”. He further added that several expeditions carried out against this place by the Imam of Muscat had all been unsuccessful, because he could not do “anything against the Sheikh of the Quassum, called Tschafel or Rachma Eben Matter, who is supported by several tribes of Bedu or Arabs from the desert. This Sheikh Rachma is at present the most powerful among the Huwala rulers. He has a force of his own people of 400 men armed with matchlock rifles in Zur (modern Sur). This has a good harbour, where the largest vessels can be berthed, and there are more than 60 vessels of which the majority is large and well-equipped, sailing as far as Mocha”.
By the first quarter of the 17th century, the Dutch had become the best compilers and editors of nautical charts and sailing books that contributed a great deal to the cartography of the Gulf. The sea-atlases, charts and maps, compiled by 17th century masters and published by the famous houses in the Netherlands, indicate that the Dutch maintained the lead until 1675. Early exploratory voyages conducted by the Dutch during the mid-17th century to interior areas of the Gulf and along the Musandam peninsula contain many fascinating references to towns and ports of modern UAE and Oman. The expeditions to the Musandam peninsula are of interest insofar as they give the first detailed description of the area. In 1644-1645, the Dutch ship Zeemeeuw (Seagull) explored the coast of the lower Gulf between Khasab and Dibba. Captain Claes Speelman made a drawing of Dibba bay and town that represents one of the oldest illustrations of a location in what is now the UAE. In 1666, the hooker-ship Meerkat captained by Jacob Vogel made a trip from Gombroon (Bandar Abbas) to Muscat. After this journey, he wrote a detailed report on what he had encountered along the coast between Khasab and Muscat, providing as well a chart and a map of the Bay of Muscat.. Moreover, Dibba, Khorfakkan, Bidya and Kalba are mentioned amongst others, with additional detailed descriptions of contemporary lifestyle. Furthermore, notable references to the islands of the lower Gulf found in the records confirm that Dutch sailors had explored the island of Tunb. The island of Abu Musa was first mentioned in a Dutch map dating back to 1645-1646, while the island of Sirri, nearby, was recorded by their sailors in 1646. In April 1651, Captain Boudaen of the Popkensburg ship described his travels between the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.

British Era

The English East India Company was formed in 1600. It first began trading in Persia through Jask in 1616. In the following year, it established two factories inland at Shiraz and Isfahan. In 1617, the Company succeeded in securing a firman (decree) from the Persian king, Shah Abbas, granting them a monopoly of the silk trade from the Persian ports. After the joint Anglo-Persian victory over the Portuguese in 1622, the Company’s representatives opened their first factory on the Gulf coast in 1623 in Bandar Abbas (formerly known as Gombroon) on the southern coast of Persia. Thereafter, the trade of Hormuz was diverted to Bandar Abbas, which became the headquarters of British commercial activities in the Gulf for the next one hundred and fifty years.
With the decline of the Dutch power, British fortunes began to prosper to some extent but the Anglo-French rivalry for mastery of India and the Gulf led to a period of instability. Furthermore, the British, whose major interest was trade, found that their position at Bandar Abbas had become increasingly precarious because of the political turmoil and frequent dynastic changes in Persia during the first half of the 18th century. In 1763, the Company opened a new ‘residency post’ for a native British official at Bushire and secured, under his supervision, the monopoly of the import of woolen goods into Persia to the exclusion of other European nations. This ushered in a period of about two hundred years of undisputed British commercial and political supremacy in the area after the collapse of the Portuguese, Dutch and French positions. It also marked the beginning of the British Political Residency in the Gulf.
From the late 18th century onwards, the East India Company’s factories were superseded by a complicated network of Residencies and Agencies whose primary functions were almost entirely political. Their chief aims were to protect the sea and overland routes to India and to safeguard the imperial interests of Britain from the growing interference of other European powers. Between 1763 and 1947, Residencies and Agencies were established and maintained at Bushire, Muscat, Basra, Baghdad, Bahrain, Kuwait and Sharjah.
The fall of the Safavid dynasty in Iran and the collapse of the Ya’ariba dynasty of Oman created disorder and a political vacuum in the Gulf in the early decades of the 18th century. Maritime Arab communities, who had fled a century before during the Portuguese regime, began to migrate from inner Arabia and Oman to the coast and resume their commercial activities. They established themselves on new sites that became the nucleus of the modern Arab Gulf states. The three leading political entities that emerged in southeastern Arabia in the early 18th century were the Qawasim, the Bani Yas federations and the Al Bu Said dynasty with Muscat as its capital. Over time, with their main base at Ras al Khaimah, the Qawasim became successful traders and gained ascendancy among the tribes of the area as a very powerful federation. For quite some time they had no rivals in the area and gained control of the remote areas around Ras al Khaimah. They owned ports on both sides of the southern Gulf, at Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Lingah, Luft and Basidu.
The Gulf was far from peaceful during this period. The Qawasim began to challenge Oman's dominance at sea and wrest from them a greater share of the Gulf, Indian and African trade that resulted in a struggle for preeminence between them and the Al Bu Said Rulers. Fears of a French attack on the East India Company's Indian possessions prompted the British to enter into alliances with the ruler of Muscat and the Shah of Persia. The supply of arms and ammunition to Oman led to a conflict of interest with the Qawasim as they viewed the British with suspicion for political, economic and religious reasons. Britain's own desire to control the maritime trade routes between the Gulf and India further exacerbated the differences, as the Qawasim appeared to threaten maritime peace and the sea routes of her commerce. In 1806, a Qulnamah was concluded between the British and the Qawasim in which it was agreed that there would be peace between the two sides and that they would respect each other's property and subjects. This Qulnamah can be said to be the beginning of formal British relations with the region that is now the UAE. Despite this agreement, attacks on British shipping continued and gradually increased.
During the early years of their involvement in Gulf affairs, the British authorities harbored the mistaken notion that the Qawasim were the root cause of all lawlessness at sea and mounted expeditions against them and their allies. This viewpoint, however, was later dismissed by some of the more experienced members of British officialdom. In 1809, Ras al Khaimah, the principal Qasimi port was attacked along with Lingah, Luft and other Qawasim bases on the Persian coast. Hostilities continued at various times and, finally in 1819, Ras al Khaimah was razed to the ground by a British naval expedition. After its fall, the expedition turned to other ports and destroyed the fortifications and larger vessels at Fasht, Sharjah, Umm al Quwain and Ajman. The subjugation of Ras al Khaimah removed the last vestiges of any challenge to Britain's control of Gulf waters. In 1820, the British concluded the General Treaty of Peace with the sheikhs of the Arab coast by which the rulers agreed to a cessation of disturbances at sea forever and they were prohibited from building large ships and erecting fortifications along this coast. Furthermore, Article 9 of this treaty contained the first denunciation of the slave trade ever written into a formal treaty. Its terms effectively gave the British the right to police the seas of the lower Gulf and marked a turning point for British interest in the area.
“The agreement of 1820, opened an era of formal relationships between Britain and the Gulf states, and of greater, though by no means complete, general security”. The general terms and conditions laid down in the 1820 treaty were to form the basis of all future agreements between Great Britain and the coastal sheikhdoms. The policy, which was to be pursued towards Arab states, was outlined by British authorities as a system of “steady control combined with friendly intercourse”, and was followed with little variation for the rest of the century. The Resident at Bushire took over responsibility for the affairs of the whole area, although the term 'Political Resident' was not actually used until the middle of the century. In 1822 the Resident at Bushire was told to study the political system of the Gulf and to submit regular detailed news reports to his superiors. ‘Native Agencies’ were subsequently established in certain Arab ports as a means of representing the British and maintaining a channel of communication with the coastal sheikhs. During the 1820s, there were ‘Native Agents’ at Muscat, Sharjah and Bahrain on the Arabian side and also at Lingah, Shiraz, Isfahan and Mughu in Persia.
Although some positive effects were demonstrated after 1820 by a boom in the pearl trade and the absence of attacks on foreign shipping, the treaty did not, in practice, prevent completely warfare at sea between Arab tribes. Therefore, the British persuaded the rulers of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman to sign a Maritime Truce in 1835 banning all hostilities and acts of war at sea during the pearling season. The sheikh of Umm al Quwain became a signatory to this truce in the following year. Since the 1820s, it had become customary for the Resident to make an annual tour of the Arabian side of the Gulf. After 1836, the tour became more essential as it was carried out for the principal purpose of renewing the Maritime Truce of 1835. During the next eighteen years, there were a series of maritime truces similar to that of 1835. However, in 1843, a truce was enforced for a ten-year period.  The Indian Navy began to patrol the pearl banks every year and, after 1843, disturbances were rare and trivial.
After the expiry of the Ten Years’ Truce, the sheikhs agreed, on the recommendation of the Political Resident, to establish a permanent peace at sea.  The Perpetual Treaty of Maritime Peace was signed in 1853, under which the sheikhs agreed to a complete cessation of hostilities at sea and a ‘perfect maritime truce…for evermore’. British involvement, however, was limited to maritime security as they did not wish to become involved in the internal affairs of the sheikhdoms. Because of this truce, the area became known in British political documents as the Trucial Coast, and was sometimes referred to as ‘Trucial Oman’ as well. In order to abolish the slave trade that continued to flourish despite the provisions of the 1820 treaty, the British government concluded four separate treaties with the Trucial Sheikhs in 1838, 1839, 1847 and 1856, which resulted in an improvement in the situation. With the installation of telegraph lines and stations in 1864 at various points in or near the Gulf, the British obtained a written guarantee for their protection from the Trucial Sheikhs by including an additional article in the Perpetual Maritime Truce of 1853.
Britain was at the height of her power in the 1870s and 1880s when new forces entered the arena and posed a challenge to her undisputed supremacy in Trucial Oman. During this period, repeated attempts were made by the Turks to assert their authority over the Arabian coast, while the Persians showed interest in the Trucial Coast with a view to establishing some kind of hegemony. French activities in Muscat and on the Trucial Coast in particular during the next few years, ultimately led the British Government to enter into Exclusive Agreements with the Gulf sheikhdoms. The Exclusive Agreements of 1892 made it obligatory for the Trucial Sheikhs not to enter into agreement or correspondence with any power other than the British Government. In return, the British assumed the responsibility of defending the emirates from foreign aggression. The Exclusive Agreements represented the final tier in the treaty structure created by Britain in the Gulf in the 19th century, and continued to be the cornerstone of British domination in the Gulf until their withdrawal from the area in 1971.
Between 1892 and 1914, the Gulf area became the scene of intense rivalry between the European powers. The French, Germans and Russians sought free access for their commercial enterprises and challenged Britain’s right to treat the Gulf as a ‘British lake’. Furthermore, French involvement in the arms trade in the region was cause for particular concern to the British. In 1902, the British authorities extracted a guarantee from the Trucial Chiefs that they would prohibit the import and export of arms from their respective territories. In the following year, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, visited the region as a show of power in response to the visits by Russian and French warships. A grand assembly was held at Sharjah on board the cruiser Argonaut, the largest ship to appear in the Gulf before World War One. In the presence of all the Trucial Chiefs, Curzon unequivocally declared that the British Government had become their overlords and protectors and the Trucial Chiefs should have no relations with other powers. Furthermore, he stated that despite the British policy of non-interference in their internal affairs, fighting between rulers on land, because of the restrictions on maritime warfare, would not be tolerated, as it was tantamount to an infringement of the spirit of the treaty they had signed. By a combination of diplomacy and coercion, the British emerged victorious and secured a formal recognition of their supremacy in the area from the French, Russians, Germans and the Ottomans.
Through the 19th century, the Gulf area was important to the British for their strategic defense of India. Britain’s policy was one of maintaining peace at sea and abolishing the slave trade by force. However, the Government’s non-involvement in the internal affairs of the emirates was not beneficial to the area. By neglecting the education and overall amelioration of the poor conditions of the local people, an atmosphere of misunderstanding and antipathy was created. However, from the turn of the century, British attitude and decisions began to change gradually because of the interplay of several forces and factors. The years following World War One saw several economic, political and cultural changes on the Trucial Coast that were reflected in the reactions of the rulers and the people towards British policy. The subsequent spread of modern education on the Trucial Coast, the growth of Arab nationalism in the area and the prospect of discovering oil motivated Britain to pay greater attention to local affairs.
The years between the two World Wars witnessed increased British involvement in the internal affairs of the Trucial States. British Imperial Airways secured landing rights in Sharjah by 1932 and, in the same year, a wireless station was established on the coast. Shortly afterwards, refueling facilities and sea anchorage were obtained from the sheikh of Dubai while the sheikh of Abu Dhabi, after some persuasion, allowed the establishment of a landing strip on Sir Bani Yas Island and another one near Abu Dhabi. Administratively, the transfer of the responsibilities of the Resident in Bushire, who was no longer able to deal adequately with the affairs of the Trucial Coast, to the Political Agent in Bahrain, “marked a historical shift of British interests in the Gulf from the Persian coast, where it had lasted for more than a century, to the Arabian side”. After World War Two, Britain began to play an even more active internal role with the introduction of a Political Agency in Sharjah that was later transferred to Dubai in 1953. The sheikhs were encouraged to accept the advice and assistance of the Political Agent.
The most significant event that fundamentally altered the position of the Trucial Sheikhdoms in British strategy was the signing of the oil concessions in the 1930s. The prospects of discovering oil and the establishment of an air route on the Trucial Coast introduced a new dimension into British thinking about the Gulf. In the face of serious competition from other foreign powers, Britain obtained undertakings from the Trucial Chiefs to transfer their control over the granting of oil concessions in their territories to the British government, and to refrain from granting banking concessions to foreigners. A consequence of signing these oil concession agreements was the necessity to determine previously undefined boundaries, which led to the outbreak of inter-emirates disputes that became particularly crucial after World War Two. As a result, in the 1950s, the British became involved in delineating and marking off the boundaries to meet the security requirements of the oil companies that were exploring in the interior of the Trucial States.
As the production and the export of oil started in the early sixties, the importance of the Trucial States in British strategy underwent a dramatic transformation. Although the British left India in 1947, the Trucial States remained vital to British imperial interests in their own right. This in turn led to a fundamental change of the traditional British policy of non-interference to one of active involvement in local affairs. In 1951, the British established the Trucial Oman Levies (later to be called the Trucial Oman Scouts), as a peacekeeping force that also helped with the oil exploration in the interior. The latter played an important role in 1955 in the dispute between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia during the Buraimi Crisis. In 1952, the Trucial States Council, a consultative and advisory body of the Rulers of the seven emirates, was formed under the chairmanship of the Political Agent to promote the idea of a union among them. In 1965, it was taken over by the Rulers themselves giving rise to the Trucial States Development Council and the Political Agent stepped down from the chairmanship in the following year. The Council extended its activities to internal welfare and accelerated the area’s development. In the course of its numerous meetings, the sheikhs were able to create a common cause that paved the way for the subsequent emergence of the United Arab Emirates in 1971.
The production of oil in Abu Dhabi in 1962, and later in Dubai and Sharjah, placed the area in a prominent position in world economic and political affairs. Rapid development and modernization generated by oil wealth was accompanied by yet another significant internal development. This was the desire for unification among the emirates that further intensified after the British government announced, in early 1968, its intention to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971.  On November 30, 1971, the British left the Trucial States bringing  to an end the era of British supremacy in the area. It is noteworthy that “the Trucial States were the first Arab territory in which Britain established her authority in 1820 and the last area in which she relinquished it in 1971”.

The Formation Of The Federation

The Formation Of The Federation

Soon after assuming power on August 6, 1966 as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan underscored the importance of the union and remarked, “In harmony and in some sort of federation, we could follow the example of other developing countries”. The significance of the union and the need to work in cooperation with the other Emirates was thus ingrained in Sheikh Zayed’s thinking early on in his career. Although he was fully aware that federation was a novel concept in the region, he had a firm conviction that it could be established based on common ties between the different Emirates and the history and heritage that they had shared together for centuries. To put his ideas about the union, cooperation and mutual support into practice, Sheikh Zayed earmarked a sizeable part of his Emirate’s income from oil to the Trucial States Development Fund long before the inception of the UAE as a federal state.

In 1968, the British Government, under pressure from adverse economic conditions, announced its intention to the terminate all its treaties protecting the Trucial States and to withdraw its forces from the Gulf by the end of 1971. This sudden decision, while threatening to create a military and political vacuum in the area, also helped to reduce the obstacles and difficulties that had hindered the earlier attempts to unify the Emirates. The very prospect of ending the special relationship that had existed between Britain and the Trucial States for one hundred and fifty years set in motion the process of achieving some form of association more formal and more binding than that represented by the Trucial States Council. Because of these new forces that had been mobilized, Sheikh Zayed, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, along with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, promptly initiated the first move towards establishing a federation. This federation was intended to be the nucleus of Arab unity and to protect the potentially oil-rich coast from the ambitions of more powerful neighboring countries.

The initiative taken by the Rulers of the two leading Emirates resulted in a meeting, on February 18, 1968, at Al Sameeh on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This was a historic meeting where Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid agreed to merge their respective Emirates into a union and to jointly conduct foreign affairs, defense, security and social services and to adopt a common immigration policy. Other administrative matters were left to the jurisdiction of the local government of each Emirate. This momentous agreement became known as the Union Accord and may be considered as the first step towards uniting the Trucial Coast as a whole. In order to strengthen the federation further, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid invited the Rulers of the five other Trucial States as well as Bahrain and Qatar to join in the negotiations for the formation of a union.

From February 25 to 27,  1968, the Rulers of these nine states convened a constitutional conference in Dubai. For over three years, the eleven-point agreement, conceived in Dubai, served as the basis for intensive efforts to set up the constitutional and legal framework for this ‘Union of Arab Emirates’, comprising of these nine member states. Several meetings at various levels were held. The key issues were agreed upon in the meetings of the Supreme Council of Rulers, formed by the nine rulers of the Emirates. There were formal discussions by the Deputy Rulers and by various committees regarding the appointment of civil servants from these Emirates as well as external advisers. In the summer of 1971, it became clear that Iran no longer lay claim to Bahrain and the Ruler of Bahrain, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, declared the island state’s independence on August 14, 1971. Qatar followed suit on September 1, 1971.

Next, the authorities in the seven Trucial States worked out an alternative to the ‘Union of Arab Emirates’. The Rulers of the six Trucial States, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain and Fujairah (with Ras al Khaimah the seventh state still undecided), had decided to form the United Arab Emirates at a meeting held in Dubai on July 18, 1971. The foundation of an independent, sovereign state was formally proclaimed on December 2, 1971. When Ras al Khaimah joined on February 10, 1972, the federation was complete with the inclusion of all of the seven former Trucial States. This newly founded federal state became officially known as Dawlat al Imarat al Arabiyya al Muttahida, or the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A Provisional Constitution, based on an amended version of the earlier draft constitution of the nine Gulf States, was formally adopted. It defined as its highest objective, the common good of the UAE as a whole. The Provisional Constitution consisting of 152 articles, divided into a Preamble and 10 sections, specifying the powers that were to be vested in the new federal institutions, while all other powers were to remain the prerogative of the local governments of the individual Emirates.

The five central authorities outlined in the Constitution are:
1.    The Supreme Council consisting of the seven Rulers - it is the highest policy-making body of the state and is vested with the ultimate legislative and executive powers.
2.    The President and Vice President of the federal state.
3.    The Council of Ministers or Cabinet.
4.    The Federal National Council (FNC) - it is a consultative council comprising forty members drawn from the Emirates on the basis of the size of their population with eight deputies each from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, six each from Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah, and four each from Fujairah, Ajman and Umm al Quwain.
5.    The Judiciary: consists of a number of courts, with the Federal Supreme Court on the top.

The Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was elected by his fellow Rulers as the first President of the UAE, a post to which he was successively re-elected at five-year intervals. The former Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was elected as Vice President, a post that he held until his death in 1990 when his eldest son, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was elected to succeed him. In a meeting held on May 20, 1996, the Federal Supreme Council approved a draft amendment that made the country’s Provisional Constitution the permanent Constitution of the UAE and named Abu Dhabi as the capital of the federation.

The UAE embarked on its political agenda as a federation of seven regional states of different sizes, natural resources, population and wealth, but with a common history and heritage. Abu Dhabi is the largest in terms of area and is blessed with the biggest oil reserves. The federal institutions are largely financed by Abu Dhabi. Dubai was,  until 1971, the Emirate most associated with the concept of the city-state and continues to grow as the hub of the region’s trade and business. Some of the other emirates have always been endowed with relative wealth of water and arable land. However, despite these disparities, the UAE’s impressive record of progress has been possible, because of the success of the federation and the collaboration and harmony among its leaders who have been working hand in hand to achieve common goals.

The central authorities undertook, as their primary duty, to harness the wealth of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of the UAE as a whole. This contributed in a large measure to the success and continuity of the federation. The Rulers of the UAE, which today ranks among the top oil and gas producers worldwide, used its oil wealth with remarkable vision and foresight to improve the lives of its people and to create an infrastructure that supports a growing number of non-oil industries and activities. From the very outset, Sheikh Zayed firmly believed that “money is of no value unless it is used for the benefit of the people”. The social services provided by the federal ministries, especially free education, housing, healthcare and social support given to the Emiratis, paved the way for a rapid and phenomenal growth and development throughout the country. Finally, with the advent of modern technology, the UAE has been transformed from a developing country to a modern nation state within less than three decades.

Another important factor contributing to the political stability enjoyed by the UAE, since its formal inception, is the carefully planned and successfully implemented foreign policy of its leaders, primarily aimed at “promoting conciliation and defusing confrontation and conflict”. The cornerstone of the UAE’s foreign policy is to protect the sovereignty of the country and the independence of its citizens within the broader framework of Gulf security. Another key component of this policy has been the gradual expansion of the country’s political horizons, the forging of good relations with international powers and the cooperation with international organizations.

Thus, soon after its emergence as a full-fledged state, the UAE joined the Arab League and the United Nations. The UAE was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) in the 1970s. The establishment of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) comprising the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, at a summit held in Abu Dhabi in 1981, reflects the UAE’s determination to foster cooperation and solidarity with the rest of the Arab World.

In this connection, we must throw light on the role of the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE,  especially as his stature had grown internationally in tandem with the enhanced status of the country on the world stage. Over the years, he emerged as a mentor and mediator not only in the GCC, but also within the Arab World and developing countries. A host of poorer countries and communities worldwide received financial and other forms of material aid provided by him in the name of the UAE. This was largely due to his humanitarian approach derived from his unshaken faith in Islam. Furthermore, the UAE armed forces were the only non-NATO force to help with peacekeeping operations in Kosovo. Therefore, it is not surprising that the spectacular generosity of this small country has drawn the attention of the world in terms of helping to alleviate the suffering of the victims of natural or man-made calamities.

The Emirates in general and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in particular have drawn international attention by offering wide-ranging economic opportunities, sports and leisure facilities, cultural activities and also  by creating awareness for the protection of the environment and wildlife and the promotion of tourism. The remarkable advancement of the Emirati women in every aspect of life constitutes another important yardstick for measuring the progress of the country as a whole. Accorded equal status and opportunities by the Constitution, women of the UAE today are making their presence felt in society in a pronounced way. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Sheikh Zayed’s spouse, who takes credit for playing a major role in empowering women, established the UAE Women’s Federation in Abu Dhabi in 1975, along with its branches in all of the other Emirates. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that, despite overall modernization, the architects of UAE’s development take into consideration and recognize the importance of the preservation and continuation of their traditional culture and architecture as well as their time-honored heritage.

The success of the UAE’s political system lies in the fact that it represents a unique blend of the traditional and modern forms of government, with an inherent commitment “to consensus, debate and direct democracy”. The sacrifices and achievements of its Founding Fathers contributed to the emergence of this modern nation that replaced the previously separate emirates. The UAE is the only federal state in the Arab world that has not only survived, but also succeeded in creating a distinctive national identity with the passage of time. On the occasion of the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the successful federation, Sheikh Zayed noted with satisfaction and pride, “Our accomplishments have exceeded all our expectations. They have been achieved with the help of God and our sincere and strong will, and confirm that there is nothing that cannot be achieved for the benefit of the people if we have the firm determination  and sincere intentions”. The Federation of the UAE is, and will continue to be, a source of pride for the present and future Emirati generations.

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Headquarter in Abu Dhabi


August 01, 2006

National Center for Documentation and Research Headquarter in Abu Dhabi

Federal Decree No. 46 for the year 2007


June 01, 2007

Federal Decree No. 46 for the year 2007 to appoint Dr. Abdulla M. El Reyes as Director General (Assistant Under Secretary) of the Center for Documentation and Research

Federal Law No. (7) for the year 2008 to establish the National Center for Documentation and Research


June 01, 2008

Federal Law No. (7) for the year 2008 to establish the National Center for Documentation and Research

The Federal Law No. (1) for the year 2014


June 01, 2014

The Federal Law No. (1) for the year 2014 to change the name National Center for Documentation and Research to National Archives

The issuance of the Bylaw of the Federal Law No. (7) for the year 2008


December 10, 2013

The issuance of the Bylaw of the Federal Law No. (7) for the year 2008

The Center for Documentation and Research became part of the Cultural Foundation


June 01, 1984

The Center for Documentation and Research became part of the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi in accordance with Law No. 7 of 1981 regarding Cultural Institutions issued by Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed

Federal Decree No. 75 for the year 1976


June 19, 1976

Federal Decree No. 75 for the year 1976 to appoint Dr. Mohammed Mursi as Director General of the Center for Documentation and Research at the President’s Diwan

Amiri Court Circular No. 49, 1969


February 26, 1969

Amiri Court Circular No. 49, 1969, informing the Abu Dhabi Government Departments about the objectives of the Documents and Research Bureau in collecting material concerning the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its development

Establishment of the Documents and Research Bureau at Ruler’s Court


February 26, 1968

The National Archives, previously known as the National Center for Documentation and Research (NCDR), was established in 1968, upon directives from the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, under the name of "Documents and Research Bureau", and was affiliated with Al Diwan Al Amiri (Ruler’s Court). Its mission was defined as ‘collecting documents and information relating to the history, politics, social life and culture of the gulf region and Arabian Peninsula in general, and in particular those related to Abu Dhabi and the Emirates, from primary sources in Arab and foreign countries. It has been entrusted with the documentation and translation of these documents. In 1972, its name was changed to the Center for Documentation & Research (CDR), then according to the Federal Decree No. (7) for 2008, it became the National Center for Documentation and Research (NCDR) and according to the Federal Decree No. (1) for 2014 the name was changed to the National Archives.

Documents and Research Bureau was changed to Center for Documentation and Research


June 19, 1972

Documents and Research Bureau was changed to Center for Documentation and Research

The re-location of the Center for Documentation and Research to the National Archives Building


January 12, 2023

The re-location of the Center for Documentation and Research to the National Archives Building of the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi
The National Archieves In Brief


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