Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles In the early 1970’s the United Arab Emirates was an impoverished desert, with little access to food, water, and well-paying jobs. Today, the country looks nothing like it did 45 years ago. Due in no small part to oil, the UAE has completely transformed. The country is now one of the largest economies in the middle east, and its per capita GDP is on par with highly-developed european nations. So, as a fairly new country with a recent influx of wealth, we wanted to know, just how powerful is the United Arab Emirates? Well, geographically speaking, the UAE is fairly small. At just over 30,000 square miles, the country is roughly the size of the US state of South Carolina. The UAE’s population of just over nine million is also fairly insignificant, however it’s growing fast. Over the last two decades, the population has nearly quadrupled, due to a high birth rate and a rapid influx of expatriate workers, majority of which are from India. Today, non-nationals make up more than 80 percent of the UAE population. An overwhelming majority UAE expatriates are in the country for one reason: jobs. The UAE’s economy is the most diversified in the Persian Gulf, and its most populous city, Dubai, is emerging as a hub for travel, trade and aviation. In terms of tourism, Dubai ranks first among cities in the middle east, and according to some measurements, fifth in the world. The UAE is extremely conducive to private business and the free market. In the country’s 38 free trade zones, businesses and corporations, even those that are owned by foreigners, are exempt from all taxes. And all UAE residents enjoy no sales or income tax, as well as a very low property tax. With little revenue coming from taxes, the UAE’s government is left extremely dependent on its primary export: oil. Even after efforts to diversify the economy, the resource still contributes to about 40 percent of the UAE’s more than 350 billion dollar GDP. As global demand for oil has slowed, the country has been forced to make up for loss by reducing public spending, including eliminating fuel subsidies in 2015. The UAE has also made great strides in terms of defense. Over the last two decades, the country has diversified its weapons trade, expanded its army and developed its existing military technology. Today, the UAE has a fairly small army of roughly 65,000 troops, but a sizable defense budget of more than $14 billion dollars. As a result, their small army is technologically advanced and well-equipped. The UAE is also a close ally to the United States. In fact over the last two decades, it has fought alongside the US more times than any other Arab nation. These conflicts include the ongoing War in Afghanistan, the 1990 Gulf War and the current fight against ISIS. The UAE is also relatively peaceful, and, compared to its neighbors in the persian gulf, enjoys little domestic dissent. However, the country is far from perfect, as rapid development and broad employer rights have paved the way for widespread abuse of expatriate workers. And although the country appears to be modern and progressive, its autocratic government is frequently accused of jeopardizing free speech by suppressing dissidents, forcing disappearances and even torturing suspects. There’s no question that the UAE is well on its way to becoming a financial superpower. But in order to modernize and expand its economy, it may need to clean up its human rights record first. We couldn’t make fascinating episodes like this without our sponsor, DOMAIN DOT COM. If you’re an entrepreneur, innovator, or building a small business, DOMAIN DOT COM is the place to go when that next great idea hits you. Join millions of others online with your DOT COM or DOT NET domain name. Be recognized with the world’s premier web addresses. And our friends at DOMAIN DOT COM are giving Seeker fans 20% off domain names and web hosting when you use coupon code SEEKER at checkout. The United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the region, but it doesn’t match their oil giant and neighbor, Saudi Arabia. So if you think the UAE wields serious influence, you might want to check out just how powerful the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is. Find out here! (sound up) Thanks for watching SEeker Daily, don’t forget to like and subscribe.