United Arab Emirates 2006
United Arab Emirates. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in United Arab Emirates include Independence Day (December 2) and New Year (January 1). The United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister, Sheikh Maktum ibn Rashid Maktum, as well as Emir of Dubai since 1990, died on January 4 during a visit to Australia. He turned 62 years old. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Defense Minister Muhammad Rashid al-Maktum, who pushed for Dubai’s construction boom, as well as investment in tourism and free trade zones. Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Before the sheikh died, he had in December 2005 announced that the United Arab Emirates would hold its first, indirect election to the Federal National Council (FNC) previously designated by the seven emirate leaders. Half of the Council’s 40 members would be elected by an electoral assembly in December 2006, the others as previously appointed by the emirate’s leaders weighted according to population figures. Women would also be allowed to run for office.
In March, hundreds of guest workers, who are in the process of constructing what will become the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, attacked the police. They were dissatisfied with pay and working conditions and caused extensive damage. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch later criticized the United Arab Emirates government for the treatment of guest workers, not least in the construction industry. About half a million of the United Arab Emirates’s more than 2.7 million guest workers come from South Asia.
In March, the company Dubai Ports World (DPW), based in the United Arab Emirates, bought the British competitor P&O and strengthened its position as one of the world’s largest port operators. The acquisition sparked heated debate in the United States when six US major ports ended up in DPW’s ownership. Critics feared that a foreign owner could contribute to an increased risk of terrorist attacks and claimed that two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks in 2001 came from the United Arab Emirates. President George W. Bush did not have to fight when DPW announced that the US business segment would be resold.
In October, United Arab President Khalifa ibn Zaid al-Nahyan announced stricter laws against human smuggling with penalties for life imprisonment in some cases.
Saudi Arabia was reported to be critical of plans to build a 36-mile-long gas pipeline on the bottom of the Gulf of Persia from Qatar to the United Arab Emirates. Deliveries were planned for the summer of 2007. A large part of the United Arab Emirates’ abundant gas supplies are sulfur-containing.