Umm al-Qaiwain (or Umm al-Qiwayn), literally means "Mother of two powers" and refers to the power of the emirate over both land and sea. The emirate has an area of 750 km² and with around 65,000 inhabitants, is the least populous of the United Arab Emirates. It is ruled by Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla.
The town of Umm al-Qaiwain is a small fishing port on a narrow peninsula encircling a large creek, Khor Umm al-Qaiwain. It is reached on a side road from the main road between Sharjah and Ra's al-Khaimah. Umm al-Qaiwain was established as an independent sheikhdom in 1775 by Sheikh Majid Al Mu'alla, founder of the ruling Al Mu'alla lineage of the Al 'Ali clan. On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Abdullah I, with the other rulers of the area, signed the General Maritime Treaty with the United Kingdom, accepting a British protectorate. On 2 December 1971, Sheikh Ahmad II joined the United Arab Emirates.
The old town and the business district are at the northern tip of the peninsula. On the edge of the old town is the Fort, the oldest building in Umm al-Qaiwain, dating from 1768. It served as the Sheikh's residence and seat of government until 1969 and is now the town's museum. It has been wonderfully restored, with two cannons at the entrance and the Emirate's flag flying from the main tower. The meeting room or "majlis" is a highlight, there is an interesting archaeological display and it has fine collections of old Bedouin jewellery and weapons. Nearby, closer to the sea, is the Umm al-Qaiwain Soor or Old Wall, a defensive wall with three massive towers, built in 1820 from large stones and plaster. Along the back roads of this quiet place are various old buildings that would be worth restoring and there is a small shipyard where traditional wooden "dhows", trading boats, are built and repaired.
There is even a resort here, the Flamingo Beach Resort, but a more bizarre place to stay is the Palma Beach Hotel, built as a kitsch Egyptian theme park, There is a grand entrance leading into an avenue with columns, painted in a pseudo ancient Egyptian style; there are murals, statues of tigers, two pyramids and an obelisk. But it is nicely situated on a palm-lined beach and seems popular with local families.