While there is a known Ajami tribe extant in modern Saudi Arabia, the name of the city and Emirate of Ajman could also come from the Arabic 'Ajm', or 'Persians' or alternatively a diminutive of Oman 'Ayman'.
The foundation of Ajman has been traced to 1810, when Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuami and his followers took the coastal settlement of Ajman from members of the Al Bu Shams tribe in a short conflict.
On 8 January 1820, following the sack of Ras al-Khaimah by a British force led by Sir W.G. Keir, the then ruler of the Sharjah Emirate Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi signed the General Maritime Treaty with the United Kingdom, surrendering the towers, guns and vessels of Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain and their dependencies. At first refusing the primacy of Sultan bin Saqr, Ajman eventually capitulated in 1823.
An 1822 British maritime survey noted that Ajman had one of the best backwaters on the coast and was a small town with a single fortified building, the ruler's house. In common with many other coastal towns on what became the Trucial Coast, the population was mobile depending on the season – there were as many as 1,400 to 1,700 men of the 'Mahamee' tribe living there during the pearl hunting season (April–September), many of whom would migrate to Al Buraimi in the date season. The survey notes that Ajman's ruler Rashid bin Ahmed considered his dominion independent of Emirate of Sharjah, but that Sharjah did not maintain that view even though it had no power over Ajman. The survey noted that the inhabitants of Ajman were 'mostly strict Wahhabis' and recorded the presence of the ruined village of Fasht down the shore from Ajman town, which is today the Fisht suburb of Sharjah city.
In 1831, the Sheikh of Ajman accepted a subsidy from the Imam of Muscat to join with Sultan bin Saqr of Sharjah against Sohar, but following Sultan's defeat declared for Sohar. In his absence, a part of Bani Yas from Abu Dhabi sacked Ajman town and its date groves. In retaliation, the forces of Ajman committed 'daring depredations' upon the cities of Sohar and Muscat. When called upon to provide redress for the actions of his 'subject', Sultan bin Saqr disavowed any authority over Ajman and in 1832 a British naval force was sent to Ajman to obtain redress for the raids on the East Coast cities. Ending a conflict between Sharjah, Ajman and Dubai on the one hand and Abu Dhabi on the other, Ajman (together with the other parties) signed the 1835 Maritime Treaty in its own right.
In 1840, Humaid bin Obeid bin Subt of Al Heera invaded Ajman supported by a body of the Bani Naeem. Although initially reluctant to assist Humeid bin Rashid, Sultan bin Suggur of Sharjah sent his son Suggur who, together with Maktoum of Dubai, ejected the invaders and sacked Al Heera in reprisal.
In 1843 a further Maritime Treaty was signed between the Trucial Sheikhs and the British and then, on 4 May 1853, 'A Perpetual Treaty of Peace' was entered into by the coastal Sheikhs, including Ajman. A copy of this treaty is on display in Ajman Museum. A further treaty of 1892 bound the Trucial States to Britain.
By the 20th Century, Lorimer's survey of the coast of the Trucial States showed Ajman to be a small town of some 750 inhabitants (in comparison, the population of Dubai at the time numbered over 10,000).
On 2 December 1971, Ajman, under Sheikh Rashid bin Humayd Al Nuaimi, joined the United Arab Emirates.
Its rulers were:1810 – 1816 Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi
1816 – 1838 Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Nuaimi (d. 1838)
1838 – 1841 Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi (1st time) (d. 1873)
1841 – 1848 Sheikh `Abd al–`Aziz I ibn Rashid Al Nuaimi (d. 1848)
1848 – 1873 Sheikh Humaid II bin Rashid Al Nuaimi (2nd time)
1873 – April 1891 Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi (d. 1891)
April 1891 – 8 July 1900 Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi (d. 1900)
8 July 1900 – February 1910 Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Nuaimi (b. 18.. – d. 1910)
February 1910 – January 1928 Sheikh Humaid bin Abdulaziz Al Nuaimi
January 1928 – 6 September 1981 Sheikh Rashid ibn Humaid Al Nuaimi (b. 1904 – d. 1981)
6 September 1981 – present Sheikh Humaid ibn Rashid Al Nuaimi (b. 1931)
Ajman is the smallest of the United Arab Emirates, covering only 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi). The city lies on the coast of the Persian Gulf and is home to some 95% of the emirate's population. In 2010, the population was 262,000, of which 16% was Emirati according to official statistics.
As well as the city of Ajman, the emirate also encompasses two landlocked exclaves, Manama and Masfut. Manama is in the plains at the foothills of the Hajjar Mountains some 60 km east of Ajman city, while Masfut is in the mountains proper, some 110 km south of Ajman City.
The city and main territory of Ajman is bordered to the landward side by Sharjah, while Manama shares borders with Sharjah and Fujairah. Masfut borders Oman, Dubai (the village and exclave of Hatta) and Ras Al Khaimah. Both Manama and Masfout are fertile regions and support widespread agricultural development.
Most of the main emirate's landmass is developed, with extensive suburbs stretching out almost to the E311 arterial road, with light industrial zones and warehousing towards the north east. Ajman's creek has been dredged and walled to form a port area and this is the location for the Ajman Port and the Ajman Free Zone. Ajman has a thriving textile industry, and is home to some 15% of the UAE's manufacturing firms.
The small areas of sandy desert outside the city support scant seasonal growths of wild grasses and scrub, ghaf trees and occasional date palms. Acacia and ghaf trees are to be found in abundance in Manama, which has long been established as an agricultural centre. Date palm groves and fruit tree plantations are characteristic of Masfut.
The Emirate of Ajman is a monarchy, ruled by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi since succeeding his father in 1981. The Crown Prince of Ajman is Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. The emirate has been ruled by members of the Al Nuaimi family (or tribe) since 1810. It contributes four senators, or seats, to the 40-seat Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates.
Ajman's municipality and planning department was founded in 1968 and is responsible for integrated city planning, trade licensing, building licensing and planning and the development of roads and civic infrastructure, health care, agricultural policy and public parks. Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi is the Chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning Department since 2005. Ajman has a Department of Economic Development, which aims to encourage FDI and drive the emirate's economic opportunities.
Ajman's real estate market is regulated by the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Authority, established in December 2008 to bring regulation to bear on Ajman's fast growing and uncontrolled property boom.
Ajman Police was founded in 1967 and originally housed in Ajman Fort, which was vacated by the Ruler, Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, in that year. Ajman's legal system is governed by UAE Federal law and the Federal courts.
Ajman's GDP was $4.23 billion in 2012, in which it had a positive trade balance with exports of $1.61 billion and imports of $600 million.
Ajman's economy is dominated by five sectors, manufacturing; construction; wholesale and retail; real estate and business services and transport, storage and communications. In 2012 these contributed some 82% of total GDP, with manufacturing (37%) and construction (15%) the two largest contributors. The three largest growth sectors in Ajman from 2010-2012 were social and personal services, which grew 6.4%, transport, storage and communication, which grew 5.1% and manufacturing, which grew 5%.
Some 78% of overall investment in Ajman in 2012 was concentrated in the real estate and government services, electricity and manufacturing.
The fastest growing trades in the manufacturing sector 2009-2011 were carpentry and paper products, printing and publishing. Overall, the manufacturing sector in Ajman grew 16.3% over this period. The re-exporting of chemicals and plastic products clocked over 100% growth in this same time period.
Major export markets from 2009-11 were represented by the GCC countries (31%) and Asia (27%), while Africa and Asia were the fastest growing export markets over this period. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Iran were the Ajman's principle export trade partners.
Investments in Ajman grew in 2013 by 5% compared to 2012. Exports (including re-export) grew in the second quarter of 2014 by 53%.
With capacity to accommodate 1500 companies and serving over 1,000 vessels a year, Ajman Port and Ajman Free Zone are major contributors to the emirate's economy. Exporting to over 65 countries, the Free Zone's companies comprise something like 20% of the UAE's overall industrial units, with some 256 industrial companies operating from the zone.
Ajman was the first emirate in the UAE to offer 100% freehold to global investors, in 2004. This led to real estate prices rising rapidly, from $11 per square foot and, by 2007, developers had announced projects with a worth of $21.78 billion, some 65,000 units in all. In an emirate with a population of 240,000 the figure was high by any standard and the pace of development was not sustainable, with the global financial crisis intervening to bring development to a sharp halt. With considerable pain from investors in stalled projects, the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Agency came under considerable pressure.
Work has restarted on a number of projects, including the mixed business, leisure and residential development Ajman One.
A development boom followed the opening of Ajman's real estate market to global investors in 2004, with 'true' freehold on offer. By 2008 the growth of real estate speculation and investment had led to the establishment of a real estate regulator, the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Agency. Arguably ineffective in the face of the fast-moving and evolutionary gold rush taking place, ARERA had not implemented widespread policies or regulations to curb the overheating market by the time the global financial crisis intervened and brought many developments to a crashing halt. As of 2014, a number of key stalled projects had restarted, marking a more cautious and measured return to the development of the emirate's real estate market, which has recently benefited from offering competitive rentals to nearby Sharjah and Dubai.
The construction of Ajman International Airport began in the second half of 2008 in the Al Manama area of Ajman. Airport operations were scheduled to begin by 2011, and the airport was expected to host about two million passengers per year. The project stalled but has now been restarted and is projected to be completed by 2018 and will entail an investment of some $575,000.
A $25 million marina project is also underway, which will include running tracks and facilities to attract international sporting events and provide a draw for tourism to the emirate.
Ajman Fort was formerly the residence of the Ruler of Ajman but turned over to Ajman Police as their barracks in 1967. It was subsequently converted into a museum and houses an eclectic collection of artefacts and exhibitions of traditional life in Ajman.
The Red Fort was built during Sheikh Humaid bin Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi (1910-1928), and consists of four rooms in two towers. The fort was restored in 1986 and a third tower was added to the two older towers. Gravel and red plaster were used in the construction of the walls of the fort and hence it was named the Red Fort. Sandalwood was used in the beams and supports for the construction of the roofs.
Manama museum, opened on 2 December 2012, is located in Al Mareer Fort, which was originally built during the reign of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi (1873 – 1891). A yard overlooks seven rooms and a well. The fort is surrounded by palm trees irrigated by the old Manama Falaj.
Located on the Ajman Corniche, the square Al Murabaa Watchtower was built in the 1930s.
Ajman's busy corniche is a popular evening and weekend destination for families and features a number of fast food outlets, coffee shops and stalls. It is home to the 'Outside Inn', a popular watering hole with expatriates, as well as to a number of hotels, including the Ramada, Ajman Palace, the Kempinski and the luxurious Ajman Saray.
Ajman University of Science and Technology is the principle higher education institution in Ajman, with colleges offering specialisations in engineering, information technology, dentistry, mass communication, pharmacy and health sciences, business administration, environment, water and energy, education and law. Consisting of two clusters, J1 (25 lecture halls and 23 laboratories) and J2 (56 lecture halls and 56 laboratories), the university includes a teaching hospital for both dental and medical specialisations.
The Gulf Medical University (GMU), previously Gulf Medical College, was awarded university status in July 2008 after an order issued by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Its Hospital Group is the largest healthcare provider in the UAE. The Gulf Medical University offers both Undergraduate and Graduate Programs.
City University College of Ajman
The APTA chairman said there were 1,600 taxis operated by four companies in Ajman. The basic tariff is Dh10, during the day and evening base fare is at Dh4.
Cricket and football are popular games and sports in Ajman. Ajman Club is a football club based in Ajman. Ajman was relegated to the second division, but the following year they were promoted back to the top flight in 2011.