Al Karama, United Arab Emirates

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Al Karama was to be built along the border between the emirates of Abu Dhabi (yellow) and Dubai (brown). The present capital, Abu Dhabi, is in red.

Al Karama (Arabic: الكرامة‎‎) was a proposed planned city to be built on the border of the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It was specified to be the permanent capital of the United Arab Emirates as stated in the Constitution of 1971.[1] The proposed city was never built, and Abu Dhabi became the official capital of the UAE in 1996.

History[edit | edit source]

In 1968, the United Kingdom announced that it would end its protectorate over the Trucial States (the predecessor of the UAE), leading the seven rulers of the States to propose a "Federation of Arab Emirates" with nearby Bahrain and Qatar, to be led by a Supreme Council composed of their nine rulers. On October 21, 1969, the fourth and final meeting of the Supreme Council agreed that Abu Dhabi, the largest (in land area) and wealthiest of the nine, should temporarily host the capital of the new state, with a new capital to be built between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.[2] However, this agreement was rendered void when Bahrain and Qatar both withdrew from the proposed federation.

On July 10, 1971, the Trucial States announced the formation of the United Arab Emirates, and the capital issue resurfaced. The five small emirates counter-proposed building a new capital on the border of Dubai and Sharjah, but this was rejected by Dubai and Abu Dhabi.[2] Eventually, the previous compromise was agreed upon, and Article 9 of the final constitution stated:[3]

  1. The Capital of the Union shall be established in an area allotted to the Union by the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the borders between them and it shall be given the name Al Karama.
  2. There shall be allocated in the Union budget for the first year the amount necessary to cover the expenses of technical studies and planning for the Construction of the Capital. However, Construction work shall begin as soon as possible and shall be completed in not more than seven years from the date of entry into force of this Constitution.
  3. Until the Construction of the Union Capital is complete, Abu Dhabi shall be the provisional headquarters of the Union.”

While the Constitution came into effect on December 2, 1971, its implementation was stalled by ongoing disputes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and construction of the capital-to-be never got underway. Instead, Abu Dhabi started building the institutions of government on its own territory, ignoring repeated demands from Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah to build the new capital as promised.[2] In 1979, in light of the "facts on the ground" and lacking the resources to build it on their own, these demands were dropped.[2]

A quarter-century after the initial constitution, the Supreme Council of the UAE passed Constitutional Amendment Nr. 1 of 1996, which specified that "Abu Dhabi City is the Capital of the Federation." and thus finally granted full legal recognition of Abu Dhabi as the permanent capital of the United Arab Emirates.[4]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Even in the Emirates, few are aware of the planned capital.[5] However, some references to Al Karama remain in the infrastructure of the United Arab Emirates; for example, telephone area code 01 remains reserved for the city.[6]

Future[edit | edit source]

In 2008, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced a plan to build a new federal capital for the United Arab Emirates. To be called the Capital District, the capital will be located 15–20 km from Abu Dhabi near Khalifa City and, by 2030, would support a population of up to three million.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Emirates plus Etihad equals neo-federal UAE. gulfnews. Retrieved on 2011-03-21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ibrahim Al Abed; Peter Hellyer (1 June 2001). United Arab Emirates: a new perspective. Trident Press Ltd. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-1-900724-47-0. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  3. The Union , its Fundamental Constituents and Aims. Retrieved on 2011-03-21.
  4. Federal Supreme Council Resolution regarding the Constitutional Amendment No. 1 of 1996. (1996-12-02). Retrieved on 2011-03-21.
  5. Emirates plus Etihad equals neo-federal UAE. gulfnews. Retrieved on 2011-03-21.
  6. Blog Archive » ABU DUBAI: A Forward Tale of Two Cities That Could Only Be One. Al Manakh. Retrieved on 2011-03-21.
  7. UAE to get new capital. (2008-04-17). Retrieved on 2011-03-21.

Coordinates: 25°15′N 55°18′E / 25.250°N 55.300°E / 25.250; 55.300