Dubai: Country and Foreign Investment
There are no elections or legal political parties in the UAE. Power rests with the seven hereditary sheikhs -- also known as emirs, and hence the area ruled by an emir is known as an emirate - who control the seven traditional sheikhdoms (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah - each emirate is named after its principal town) and choose a president from among themselves. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi has been President since 3 November 2004, following the death of the UAE's Founding Father and first President Zayid bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan
The Vice President and Prime Minister is the ruler of Dubai, which was Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum until his death in January 2006, following which the role was assumed by his brother and heir, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. There is also a Cabinet, and its posts are distributed among the seven emirates. (The members of the Cabinet are the government ministers, such as Minister of the Interior, etc.).
The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is the President while the second in command (Deputy Supreme Commander) is Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The parliament is known as the Federal National Council (FNC). It was established on 13th February 1972 and is considered a landmark in the country's constitutional and legislative process. The FNC advises the Cabinet and the Supreme Council but cannot overrule them. According to the constitution, the FNC consists of 40 members who are drawn proportionately from each of the seven emirates. Each ruler appoints the members for his emirate.
The FNC is structured as follows:
A Speaker and his two deputies and two elected observers
The Parliamentary Section Executive Committee headed by the speaker, the council's undersecretary, the secretary general and four elected members.
There are also eight specialized committees dealing with studies regarding draft laws and general issues in addition to the legislative, legal, educational, health, social, planning, labour, oil and mineral resources, agriculture and fisheries and public work sectors.
The FNC has powers to amend and review all legislation and also to summon Ministers to review and criticize the work of their ministries.
Despite the fact that there is a federal government, each ruler is completely sovereign in his domain.
The UAE was a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) created at a summit conference in Abu Dhabi in 1981. The members of the GCC include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman as well as the UAE. The country is also a member of the League of Arab States, the Islamic Conference Organization, the United Nations.
On January 1, 2003, the unified customs area of the Gulf Co-operation Council came into effect, covering Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (including Dubai). As of 2006, Yemen has been in negotiations with the existing member states, and hopes to join by 2016.