The town and emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain is situated on the west coast of the United Arab Emirates, between Sharjah, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah. It is the emirate with the smallest population, least modern development, and is second smallest in size.
The sheikhdom was declared independent by the British in 1820 and became a protectorate under them. It joined the union in 1971, but as no oil has been found here, there is a bit less luxury and a little more traditional life than in the other emirates.
The place does have a glorious history, however. The origion of its name is Umm Al Quwa, Mother of Powers, referring to the citizen's power at sea. Fishing and boatbuilding remain important industries to this day. Not so long ago, excavations revealed that the largest town of ancient South-East Arabia flourished here between 260 BC and 200 AD. The people here had contact with Egyptians and Syrians. At a site called Dur, Hellenic ruins from 210-100 BC can be seen.
In addition to the seafaring, date agriculture is a major industry of Umm al-Qaiwain, but tourism is becoming increasingly important. In addition to historical sites, a distinctive Arabic culture and large empty beaches, the emirate boasts a newly built aquatic park called Dreamland and an old, beautiful natural oasis called Falaj al-Mualla.
Umm al-Qaiwain has an area of 770 sq km and 35,000 inhabitants (1995). Its ruler since 1981 is Sheikh Rashid ibn Ahmad Al Mu'alla, born in 1930. The emirate is also called things like Umm al-Qiwain, Um Al-Quiwain, and Umm al-Qaywayn. Arabic is tough, especially in English.