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Further to the right are various offshore islands of the United Arab Emirates; most of the darker area to the right makes up Oman. The artificial peninsula and islands that make up Palm Jumeirah in Dubai as seen from the International Space Station.This massive earthwork is reclaimed from Dubai's Persian Gulf coast.Following decades of maritime conflict, the coastal emirates became known as the Trucial States with the signing of a Perpetual Treaty of Maritime Peace with the British in 1819 (ratified in 1853 and again in 1892), which established the Trucial States as a British Protectorate.This arrangement ended with independence and the establishment of the United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971, immediately following the British withdrawal from its treaty obligations.Over time, the process reversed, and about 20 million years ago, the gulfs began to close up.The ongoing collision of the two continental plates resulted in Iran's mountainous terrain (top) and its periodic earthquakes.
Consequently the country is much less reliant on oil and gas than in previous years and is economically focusing on tourism and business.
Burial sites dating back to the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age include the oldest known such inland site at Jebel Buhais.
Known as Magan to the Sumerians, the area was home to a prosperous Bronze Age trading culture during the Umm Al Nar period, which traded between the Indus Valley, Bahrain and Mesopotamia as well as Iran, Bactria and the Levant.
Stone tools recovered from Jebel Faya in the emirate of Sharjah reveal a settlement of people from Africa some 127,000 years ago and a stone tool used for butchering animals discovered at Jebel Barakah on the Arabian coast suggests an even older habitation from 130,000 years ago.
There is no proof of contact with the outside world at that stage, although in time lively trading links developed with civilisations in Mesopotamia, Iran and the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley.