A Journey Towards the Union; The Story of the Emirati Passport

The passport of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reflects the spirit of the union of seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Um Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaima and Fujairah.

By Etihad Museum

Passports of the United Arab EmiratesEtihad Museum

The UAE passport experienced many changes since its inception. Prior to the formation of the federation in 1971 and the adoption of a current passport, each of the seven emirates had its own passport and regulations – and they can all be found as part of a unique collection at the Etihad Museum.

Passport of Abu Dhabi Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Abu Dhabi' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate and has the second largest population of the seven emirates. The city of Abu Dhabi, after which the emirate is named, is both the capital of the emirate and the federation.

The Abu Dhabi passport had a red canvas cover with golden inscriptions featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at the center, with an open winged falcon siting on a pair of daggers in saltire, at the back of the falcon are two flags with a decorated banner with the words ‘Government of Abu Dhabi’ inscribed in Arabic.

Passport of Dubai Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Dubai and Dependencies' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of The United Arab Emirates In 1971
Dubai is the most populous emirate in the UAE. It is bordered to the south by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and to the northeast by the Emirate of Sharjah. Dubai is a centre for regional and international trade since the early 20th century, and a major global transport hub for passengers and cargo.

The Dubai passport had a black cover with golden inscriptions featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the Emirate of Dubai at the top, with an open winged falcon on an oval within which is a Dhow (a ship with two masts, a high stern and a low straight bow) at sea and a palm tree in the desert, enclosed within a laurel wreath. In the background is a pair of flags in saltire and at the bottom is a parchment with ‘Dubai’ written in English on the left and in Arabic on the right.

Passport of Sharjah Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Sharjah & Dependencies' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of The United Arab Emirates in 1971
Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous emirate in the UAE. It borders with Dubai to the south, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain to the north and Ras Al Khaimah to the east. It is the only emirate that overlooks the coastline on the Arabian Gulf to the west and the Gulf of Oman to the east.

The Sharjah passport had a green canvas cover and featured a representation of the coat of arms of the Emirate of Sharjah at the center, with a palm tree, below which are two flags in saltire encircled with a laurel wreath and the words ‘Government Of Sharjah & Dependencies’ appear on the outer circle in Arabic on top and English at the bottom.

Passport of Ajman Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Ajman and Dependencies' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971
Ajman is the fourth most populous emirate in the UAE, and the smallest of the seven emirates in terms of area. The main landmass of the emirate is bordered on the north, east and south by the Emirate of Sharjah.

The Ajman passport had a red canvas cover and black lettering, it opens in the Arabic style (left-hand side), and the words ‘Government Of Ajman And Dependencies’ & ‘Passport’ are marked on the cover in Arabic (top) and in English (below).

Passport of Um Al Quwain Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

An 'Umm Al Quwain' (Trucial States) Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971
Umm Al Quwain is situated between Sharjah to the southwest and Ras Al Khaimah to the northeast. It is the second smallest and the least populated emirate in the UAE.

Fishing is a key contributor to the economy of Umm Al Quwain. The emirate exports seafood throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Passport of Ras Al Khaimah Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Ras Al Khaimah and Dependencies' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971
Ras Al Khaimah is located in the northern part of the United Arab Emirates. It borders with Oman and with three other Emirates which are Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, and Fujairah. The emirate has a mountain range called the Ru’us Al Jibal, which is part of the Hajar Mountains. The mountain range incorporates Jebel Jais, which at 1,934m, is the highest peak in the UAE.

The Government of Ras Al Khaimah and Dependencies passport had a green canvas cover and black lettering, it opens in the Arabic style (left-hand side), and the words ‘Government Of Ras Al Khaimah And Dependencies Passport’ are marked on the cover in Arabic (top) and in English (below).

Passport of Fujairah Issued Prior To UnificationEtihad Museum

A 'Government of Fujairah and Dependencies' Passport Issued Prior to the Unification of the United Arab Emirates in 1971
Fujairah is the only emirate that is located completely on the eastern coast of the UAE along the Gulf of Oman. The shores of Fujairah extend along the Gulf of Oman for about 70km, from the city of Fujairah in the south to the town of Dibba in the far north.

Due to its strategic position, it is the UAE's only access to the Indian Ocean. It operates a multipurpose port that offers access to major shipping routes of the world.

Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971Etihad Museum

Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971
The individual emirates continued to issue their own passports until the federation was formed on December 2, 1971. With the birth of the nation, one UAE passport was issued to all of its citizens. It has a black cover, consists of 60 pages, each with an imprint of the national symbols, the falcon and the UAE flag.

The coat of arms of the federation features an open winged falcon with a Dhow inscribed on its chest. Around it is a chain symbolizing the alliance of the emirates. The Falcon is holding onto a parchment depicting the name of the country ‘United Arab Emirates’ in Arabic in Kufic style.

Passports of the United Arab EmiratesEtihad Museum

In addition to the passport issued post-union in the UAE, other special passports were issued to cover the following categories: Temporary, Diplomatic, Special and Service.

Temporary Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971Etihad Museum

Temporary Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971
A passport with a blue cover featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates at the center.

Diplomatic Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971Etihad Museum

Diplomatic Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971
A passport with a maroon cover featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates at the center.

Special Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971Etihad Museum

Special Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971
A passport with a green cover featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates at the center.

Service Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971Etihad Museum

Service Passport of the Newly Formed Federation of United Arab Emirates in 1971
A passport with a blue cover featuring a representation of the coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates at the center.

Passports of the United Arab EmiratesEtihad Museum

The last modification to the UAE passport included a change of its cover colour to navy blue and a modified emblem with renowned Emirati calligrapher, Mohammed Al Mandi, writing the text on the cover to identify the UAE using the Thuluth script.

According to Arton Capital's Passport Index, the UAE passport held the 1st position globally since the 1st of December 2018 until the early 2020, allowing the holder to travel to 178 countries – from which 118 destinations offered visa-free entry.

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