Finding Out About...
  Australia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates








United Arab Emirates












Kuwait Palace






Dubai Market









Country name   Conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
Conventional short form: Australia
  Conventional long form: State of Kuwait
Conventional short form: Kuwait
Local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
Local short form: Al Kuwayt
  Conventional long form: State of Qatar
Conventional short form: Qatar
Local long form: Dawlat Qatar
Local short form: Qatar
  Conventional long form: United Arab Emirates
Conventional short form: none
Local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
Local short form: none
Government type   Democratic, federal-state system recognising the British monarch as sovereign   Nominal constitutional monarchy   Traditional monarchy   Federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates
Capital   Canberra   Kuwait   Doha   Abu Dhabi
Administrative divisions   6 states and 2 territories; Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia   5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al Farwaniyah, Al 'Asimah, Al Jahra', Hawalli   10 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Umm Sa'id, Umm Salal  

7 emirates (imarat, singular - imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra's al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn

Dependent areas   Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Macquarie Island   None   None  


Independence   1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)   19 June 1961 (from UK)   3 September 1971 (from UK)   2 December 1971 (from UK)
National day   Australia Day, 26 January (1788)   National Day, 25 February (1950)   Independence Day, 3 September (1971)   Independence Day, 2 December (1971)
Constitution   9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901   Approved and promulgated 11 November 1962   Ratified by public referendum on 29 April 2003, endorsed by the Emir on 8 June 2004, effective on 9 June 2005  

2 December 1971 (made permanent in 1996)

Legal system   Based on English common law; accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction, with reservations   Civil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction   Discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters   Federal court system introduced in 1971; applies to all emirates except Dubayy (Dubai) and Ra's al Khaymah, which are not fully integrated into the federal judicial system; all emirates have secular courts to adjudicate criminal, civil, and commercial matters and Islamic courts to review family and religious disputes
Suffrage   18 years of age; universal and compulsory   Adult males who have been naturalized for 30 years or more or have resided in Kuwait since before 1920 and their male descendants at age 21
note: only 10% of all citizens are eligible to vote; in 1996, naturalized citizens who do not meet the pre-1920 qualification but have been naturalized for 30 years were eligible to vote for the first time
  18 years of age; universal   None
Head of state   Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael JEFFERY (since 11 August 2003)   Amir JABIR al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 31 December 1977); Crown Prince SAAD al-Abdullah al-Salim al-Sabah   Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa al-Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as crown prince, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad al-Thani, in a bloodless coup); Crown Prince TAMIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, third son of the monarch (selected Heir Apparent by the monarch on 5 August 2003)  

President KHALIFA bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President MUHAMMAD bin Rashid al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)

Head of government   Prime Minister John Winston Howard (since 11 March 1996);   Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah (since January 2006)   Prime Minister Abdallah bin Khalifa al-Thani, brother of the monarch (since 30 October 1996)   Prime Minister Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
Cabinet   Prime Minister nominates, from among members of the Government, candidates who are subsequently sworn in by the Governor General to serve as government ministers   Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Amir   Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch   Council of Ministers appointed by the president
note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets four times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power
Elections   The monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general   The Amir is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the Amir   The monarch is hereditary
note: in April 2003, Qatar held nationwide elections for a 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC), which has consultative powers aimed at improving the provision of municipal services; the first election for the CMC was held in March 1999
  President and vice president elected by the Federal Supreme Council (composed of rulers of the seven emirates) for five-year terms; election last held 3 November 2004 upon the death of the UAE's Founding Father and first President ZAYID bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan (next to be held 2009); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative branch   Bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats - 12 from each of the six states and two from each of the two mainland territories; and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members elected by popular preferential voting to serve terms of up to three-years)   Unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (50 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 6 July 2003 (next to be held NA 2007)
note all cabinet ministers are also ex officio members of the National Assembly
  Unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed)
note: note: no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every four years since; the new constitution, which came into force on 9 June 2005, provides for a 45-member Consultative Council, or Majlis al-Shura; the public would elect two-thirds of the Majlis al-Shura; the Amir would appoint the remaining members; preparations are underway to conduct elections to the Majlis al-Shura in early 2007
  Unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; members appointed by the rulers of the constituent states to serve two-year terms)
elections: President Khalifa in December 2005 announced that indirect elections would be held in early 2006 for half of the seats in the FNC; the other half would be filled by appointment
note: reviews legislation, but cannot change or veto
Judicial branch   High Court, judges appointed by the government   High Court of Appeal   Court of Appeal   Union Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
Political parties   Liberal Party, National Party (these two are in coalition in government), Australian Labor Party, Greens, Australian Democrats   None; formation of political parties is illegal   None   None