The southern coast of the Persian Gulf was known as the 'Pirate Coast' - although the ruler of Sharjah wrote a book in 1986 entitled 'The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf'. Pearling was a major industry. Some would also make a living by harassing British flagged ships from the 17th to the 19th century. For 150 years, the local rulers had a treaty with Britain as the Trucial States. Britain was expected to protect their authority in exchange for exclusivity rights. The invention of cultured pearls wiped out the industry, but oil finds in Persia (1908) and Mesopotamia (1927) led to eventually successful exploration which changed the game. The first successful boreholes struck black gold in Abu Dhabi in 1950. The Suez Crisis of 1956 is arguably the last time Britain flexed its global authority, and it ended up with a bloody nose. In 1968, unable to afford being a global policeman, Britain decided to withdraw all troops east of Aden. This led to unity negotiations and in 1971, six emirates joined to form the single country of the United Arab Emirates. Each Emirate is governed by an absolute monarch, and one (traditionally the Emir of Abu Dhabi) is selected as President.
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