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The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (Arabic: دستور دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة, dastūr dawlat al-imarāt al-'arabīya al-muttaḥida) provides a legal and political framework for the operation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a federation of seven emirates. The Constitution came into effect on 2 December 1971 and was permanently accepted in May 1996. Authored by Adi Bitar, a forming judge and legal advisor, the Constitution is written in 10 parts and has 152 Articles. The United Arab Emirates celebrates the formation of the Union (and acceptance of the federal constitution) as National Day.
The Historically independent kingdoms, the modern emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates and the modern kingdoms of Qatar and Bahrain entered into a treaty with the United Kingdom in 1853 and agreed to a Perpetual Maritime Truce with the UK; the kingdoms were collectively referred to as the Trucial States or as Trucial Oman. Disputes between the states were often arbitrated by the United Kingdom. In the late 1960s, the Trucial States Council was formed by the emirates, as well as Qatar and Bahrain. The United Kingdom announced its decision to end the treaty relationships with the kingdoms in 1968. The nine kingdoms attempted to form a union of Arab Emirates, but were unable to agree upon the terms of the union. While Bahrain and Qatar became independent countries, the other seven emirates attempted to form a temporary, federal union in 1971.
In 1971, the Constitution, authored by Judge Adi Bitar, was established as a temporary legal and political framework. Article 9 of the Constitution states that the Capital shall be a new town on the border of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to be completed within seven years and to be called "Al Karama"; however, a provision in the same article provided for Abu Dhabi to be the "temporary" capital of the Union and for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, to be the President of the United Arab Emirates.
In 1979, a draft "permanent" constitution was prepared which allowed for the creation of a unified military and judicial system. Initially, the emirate of Dubai was strongly opposed to the unification of the military forces and, along with Ras al Khaimah, refused to attend Supreme Council meetings of the union. Mediations by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as by other UAE rulers reduced differences between Shiekh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi.
In 1994, Abu Dhabi was made the permanent capital of the UAE, and in May 1996, six years after Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum's death, Dubai agreed to a permanent constitution, and one that would unify the armed forces of the UAE. However, Dubai, like Ras al Khaimah, maintains its own judicial courts, which are not subject to governance from the Supreme Court of the UAE.
The preamble of the constitution declares the intent of the rulers of six emirates (Ras al Khaimah joined the Union on 10 February 1972) to form a "comprehensive, democratic regime" in an "Islamic, Arab society".
We, the Rulers of the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain and Fujairah,
Whereas it is our will and the desire of the people of our Emirates to establish a Union between these Emirates, to promote a better life, more solid stability and a higher international status for the Emirates and their people;
Desiring to create closer links between the Arab Emirates in the form of an independent, sovereign, Federal state, capable of protecting its existence and the existence of its members, in co-operation with the sister Arab states and with all other friendly states that are members of the United Nations Organization and of the family of nations in general, on a basis of mutual respect and reciprocal interests and benefits;
Desiring also to lay the foundation for federal rule in the coming years on a sound basis, in line with the realities and the capacities of the Emirates at the present time, enabling the Union, giving free hand to the Union to achieve its objectives, sustaining the identity of its members providing that this is not inconsistent with those objectives and preparing the people of the Union at the same time for a dignified and free constitutional life, and progressing by steps towards a comprehensive, representative, democratic regime in an Islamic and Arab society free from fear and anxiety;
And whereas the realization of the foregoing is our dearest wish, towards which we have bent our strongest resolution, being desirous of advancing our country and our people to the status of qualifying them to take appropriate place among civilized states and nations;
Announce to Allah, the Supreme and Almighty, and to all the people our approval of the Constitution undersigned by us.*— Preamble, Constitution of the United Arab Emirates
Some of the important Articles and Parts of the Constitution are listed below: