United Arab Emirates

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United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة) is a federation of small Arab states, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah, and Fujairah. Historically referred to as the "Pirate Coast" by the British, a series of treaties first instigated in 1820 established a protective relationship between this region and the British Empire that would continue into the modern era.

The small sheikdoms that comprise the UAE were known collectively as the Trucial States (إمارات الساحل المتصالح) until 1971, each of which maintained its own military forces. These forces were combined to form the Union Defence Force (UDF), the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, that consists of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Law enforcement in the UAE remains the responsibility of the individual emirates, but a Special Security Force is maintained by the Ministry of Interior for internal security purposes. Although all emirates contribute personnel and finances to support the UDF, three of these states also still maintain their own small regional military commands. These are the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, Dubai Defence Force, and Ras al-Khaimah Defence Force.

UAE Camouflage Patterns

  • The camouflage design seen here is woodland-style design, but is not derivative of the original US m81 woodland pattern. It has long been rumored that this design was developed in the USA for possible use as a desert camouflage pattern, but very little evidence exists to substantiate that claim. Sources have confirmed, however, that uniforms in this pattern were sold by an American manufacturer to one of the Emirates, most likely Abu Dhabi, during the mid-1980s, where they remained in service for only a few years before being replaced by the desert DPM pattern.

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  • As with many Arab Gulf states, a four-color desert derivative of British DPM pattern was worn by Dubai and possibly the other Emirates until a standardized pattern was introduced for the entire Union Defence Force. The UAE versions tend to incorporate colors that do not contrast that well with each other, achieving a somewhat blended appearance at a distance. These patterns were used no later than the early 1990s.

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  • At least one variation of the British Tropical DPM pattern has been worn by UAE Forces in the early 1990s. There is little evidence to suggest the pattern remained in service for very long.

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  • A branch of the UAE Ministry of the Interior called the Special Security Forces wear an "urban" DPM pattern camouflage uniform with blue-purple colorway, very similar to the pattern worn by Qatar. As with most nations of this part of the world, sources for printed fabric and uniform construction have varied considerably over the years, producing a wide variety of color variations. The version pictured here is only a sample of what has been issued. This was introduced in the early 1990s and continues to be worn into the present era.

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  • At some point in the 1990s, the UDF standardized to a copy of the US six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern camouflage.

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  • A five-color version of the "chocolate chip" pattern also exists, and was worn by some members of the UAE Army. As the colors are quite different from the US copy, it is unknown whether these patterns were issued at the same time, concurrently, or possibly to different units.

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  • A grey variation of the six-color desert pattern was worn by the UAE Marines during this time period, being essentially the same as that issued by the Saudi General Directorate of Border Guards.

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  • In the late 1990s, the UDF began issuing a copy of US tricolor desert pattern as the standard combat uniform. This remained in service until the mid-2000s when it was replaced by the digital pattern currently worn.

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  • The current pixelated camouflage pattern of the Union Defence Force is modeled after the US MARPAT design, and essentially the same as the digital pattern worn by Kuwait.

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  • Previously known as the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA), the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA) is responsible for providing security and safety for critical installations and infrastructure within Abu Dhabi. The standard camouflage pattern is a copy of the desert MARPAT design. The CNIA design actually uses exactly the same print screens as the desert pattern worn by the Union Defence Force, but the coloration remains much more faithful to the USMC original.

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  • Introduced circa 2015-16, a new pixelated camouflage design has been adopted by the UDF. The pattern consists of sparse concentrations of medium brown, yellow-green, and light tan on a sand-colored background. Uniforms have been observed in circulation on standard ground troops and high-ranking Army officers.

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Other Camouflage Patterns worn by the UAE

  • Some units of the UDF have worn the French Daguet tricolor desert pattern, both ex-French surplus and locally-tailored copies. It is likely these uniforms were only worn when deployed on missions abroad, such as with the United Nations.

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  • UDF units deployed to Europe (KFOR) wore surplus French CE woodland pattern camouflage uniforms.

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  • Elements of the UAE Special Operations Command have been documented wearing Multicam.

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