Head of government Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Death penalty retentionist
Population 4.6 million
Life expectancy 77.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 10/12 per 1,000
Adult literacy 90 per cent
Women and foreign migrant workers faced legal and other discrimination. Hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese long-term residents were ordered to leave the country on the grounds of national security. A defendant in a terrorism trial alleged that he was tortured in pre-trial detention. At least 13 people were sentenced to death; no executions were reported.
A proposed draft media law was adopted by the Federal National Council (parliament) in January. It was criticized by journalists, lawyers and others because of its adverse implications for media freedom. It had not been ratified by the end of the year.
In March, the government pledged to implement 36 of 74 recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council in December 2008 during its Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These included recommendations relating to women's rights, the rights of migrant workers and the ratification of international human rights treaties. However, the government said it would not abolish the death penalty or allow workers substantive rights, such as the right to form a trade union.
In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the UAE authorities to improve protection of the rights of foreign workers. In October, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism urged the authorities to regularize the situation of Bidun, who remain stateless and so barred from accessing certain categories of employment as well as state health care and other services.
In October, the UAE President issued a decree concerning mobilization in response to internal or external threats to national security. Among other things, the decree provides for the imposition of the death penalty against people convicted of disclosing information that harms the state.
Counter-terror and security
In September, seven UAE nationals and one Afghan national were tried in Abu Dhabi before the Federal Supreme Court on terrorism-related charges. The eight were believed to have been among 21 people arrested in October 2008; charges against 13 others were dropped and they were released. In October, six of the eight defendants were released on bail, apparently to await trial in 2010. Some of those arrested were alleged to have been tortured in detention.
- In October, Naji Hamdan, a US national, was convicted on terrorism-related charges after a closed trial before the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. He denied the charges. He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, but was released in November and deported.
The authorities ordered hundreds of long-term foreign residents to leave the country on national security grounds. Those affected were Palestinians, notably from Gaza, and Lebanese Shi'a Muslims. Some were said to have been resident in the UAE for up to 30 years.