Before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was unified in 1971, it existed as a collection of independent emirates that were part of the Trucial States. When the Britain announced its intention to withdraw in 1968, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s ruler, put his vision of a united country into motion.
The first step was to meet with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, to initiate the process of establishing a federation. They then invited the rulers of the five other Trucial States to join in the negotiations for the formation of the union. In 1971 the rulers formally agreed to unite, and the UAE was declared as an independent country on December 2 (now celebrated annually as National Day). Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation in February 1972.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was elected as the UAE’s President and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was elected as the Vice President.