DUBAI - The president of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday issued a law implementing compulsory military service for Emirati men, a move highlighting the Gulf state's concern over turmoil in the region.
The UAE, a federation of seven emirates with a mostly expatriate population, faces no immediate threats from neighbors and has been spared militant attacks that have targeted other countries like Saudi Arabia.
Like other Gulf Arab states, the US ally has strong military ties with Western powers that say they are committed to helping the OPEC member country deter or repel any threat.
But the UAE, a big buyer of Western military hardware, has a territorial dispute with its much bigger neighbor, Iran, over three Gulf islands controlled by the Islamic republic.
It is also wary of a neighborhood fraught with conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq and Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates the size of the UAE armed forces at 51,000, with an army of 44,000, navy of 2,500 and air force of 4,500.