This is a federation of seven Gulf emirates. The two best known to many Brits are Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
When we first got involved with the area, our major concern was raids on our shipping. During the period of the Napoleonic Wars we launched several campaigns against raiders in the area of the current United Arab Emirates. In 1809, for instance, fearing the spread of French influence in the area and keen to suppress the raiders, a substantial force was gathered at Bombay (Mumbai) with a large contingent of small East India Company warships, plus the bomb vessel Stromboli and the British naval frigates HMS Caroline and HMS Chiffone. A substantial body of troops was also involved in the expedition, including a battalion of the 65th Foot.
The force arrived at Ras al-Khaimah (one of the seven emirates that today make up the UAE) and, after bombarding the town, a diversionary landing was made to the north, while the main landing was made to the south. Our troops advanced with fixed bayonets and house-to-house fighting ensued as they pushed into the burning town and took the sheikh’s palace. After the town had fallen, we burnt fifty of the raiding craft in the bay. In 1819 we were back again. Collier led another joint navy and East India Company squadron to the gulf with 3,000 troops in transport, commanded by Major General Sir William Keir. Again we attacked Ras al-Khaimah, capturing and razing fortifications and destroying ships. We occupied Ras al-Khaimah until 1821, and finally we signed a General Treaty of Peace with sheikhs in the area.
In 1835 we got the locals to sign a Maritime Truce and in 1853 this turned into the rather grand Treaty of Peace in Perpetuity by which we got to arbitrate disputes between the sheikhs of the area. In 1892 we won control of the foreign affairs of the sheikhs, in return for us committing to protect them.
Britain’s protectorate over the seven emirates ended on 1 December 1971.