The Royal family of the UAE has a short history but an interesting one! From the 16th century, the Al Nahyan family has ruled Abu Dhabi.
Starting out as fishermen, the oldest living male has always been the ruler of the Abu Dhabi. Today, all sons of the ruler are also in the government acting as ministers.
The original tribe was located in Liwa Oasis, but then Al Bu Falah migrated to modern Abu Dhabi in 1793 and a subsection was named the Al Nahyan Family. They are the present rulers of Abu Dhabi.
The favored past ruler in Abu Dhabi is His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan who started his rule in 1966 and helped create the UAE in 1971. He passed away in 2004 and left his son, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as the present day ruler.
Before that, from 1855-1909 Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa ruled Abu Dhabi and between 1922 and 1926, Sheikh Sultan briefly ruled and an uncle Sheikh Shakhbut ruled for a time. A sheikh usually wears a gutrahor a kaffiyah which has a black cord called a agal.
The families currently in power of the 7 emirates have a federal president named though consensus of this group. Each is an absolute monarchy but Abu Dhabi holds the most power due to its richness and size compared with the other six emirates.
Bedouin traditions like public meetings where the people can question their leaders in person are still held.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan has caused a controversy by having his name carved in sand so largely, it is viewable from outer-space.
His name HAMAD was built in 500 metre high letters, much like the Hollywood sign, to Al Futaisi island found south-west of Abu Dhabi. The sand sculpture measures 3.2 kilometers in length.
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