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The UAE presents a unique experience at both the political and economic levels, constituting as it does the only successful federal experience in the Arab region. However, the current phase requires an assessment and a drawing of lessons for other economic and political blocs, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Despite many achievements, it is strategically important for GCC states to prepare for the post-oil era through diversification of sources of national income and development of non-oil sectors. The UAE?s experience is brilliant on several counts, the first of which is that oil was discovered relatively late and accordingly the flow of revenues was late too. As a result, the UAE economy began to grow many years later after the economies of other countries in the region.
However, the UAE economy promptly outshone these economies on diversification, thus making its experience a unique one that deserves to be analysed.
With the exclusion of Dubai?s trade and small agricultural clusters in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, oil was the main economic activity and was completely relied on for overall development when the UAE federation was established. The contribution to GDP by sectors such as financial, transport, telecommunications and manufacturing, which are now core components of the UAE economy, was marginal in 1971.