Although a relatively small country in terms of geography, the UAE has a mix of federal and state governments with the leaders of different emirates taking on both national and local roles.
For example, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi while Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
Shiekh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The forty-members of the Federal National Council sit in Abu Dhabi and discuss matters of national importance. Half are elected and half are appointed.
Under the UAE's constitution, the assembly serves as an advisory body to the executive branch. It has no power to draft laws and its recommendations are not binding.
The current FNC council term ends in February 2011 when elections will be held for part of the new chamber.
Each emirate has different bylaws and ways of working. On an emirate-wide level, the various municipality's act in a similar way to UK local government authorities and control areas such building codes, roadworks and waste disposal.
There are moves to standardise certain aspects of everyday life. A national ID card is in the works that will make it easier to apply for driving licences, get through airports and use banks.