The sheikhdoms of the Trucial coast have been controlled and influenced by a number of countries, in the 15th Century the Portuguese, then in part by the Ottomans and then by the British through the Perpetual Maritime Truce of 1853 and the Treaty of 1892.
In 1968 the British Government announced its intention to end its protectorate of the Trucial Coast, which it did in 1971. In the same year, on 18th July, the rulers of six emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Ajman and Umm al Qaywayn ratified a provisional constitution of the United Arab Emirates. The union came into effect on 2nd December 1971 and a seventh emirate, Ras Al-Khaymah joined in February 1972.
The Federal National Council or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 members) was formed in 1971 at the time of the formation of the new constitution. It does have some powers to discuss and amend draft laws but only half the seats (20) are elected from a limited electoral college. The other half are appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates.
The Federal Supreme Council consists of the individual rulers of the seven emirates. The ruler of Abu Dhabi is the president of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai is the prime minister. The Federal Supreme Council elects a Council of Ministers of 22 members which is the executive authority of the federation.
Khalifa bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan is Head of State.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places United Arab Emirates at joint 24th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 66 where 100 is least corrupt).