Good Example Of Democratization And Political Development In The United Arab Emirates. Research Proposal
The topic of research work is democratization and political development in The United Arab Emirates. The UAE consists of seven emirates; all of them are absolute monarchies. But the state itself has the features of both republic and monarchy – there actually exists legislative body while the head of the state is Emir of Abu Dhabi, and the head of government is Emir of Dubai. The Supreme Council of the Union takes the highest place in the hierarchy of the state system of the UAE. The Council consists of the heads of all seven emirates. The Council determines the general policy of the state. As the emirate itself is an absolute monarchy, the power in it, and consequently in the whole state, is inherited.
The main research question of the work will be as follows:
Why the UAE failed to become a democracy when it became one of the richest countries in the world?
This question will include studying the history of the UAE, especially the years after it became independent. We will also discover how oil encouraged rapid growth of the economy of the UAE a few decades ago.
After studying how it became rich we will concentrate on its failure to become democratic. This issue includes several reasons:
How did Arab culture and religion influence on democratization in the UAE?
Virtually all UAE citizens are Muslims, 85% of them - the Sunnis, and 15% - the Shiites. The culture itself also has a huge impact on political life – the UAE legislative body consists of 40 members, 20 of which are elected by Electoral College. This body consists of representatives of all emirates. So we can say that the UAE does not have direct elections, and there is actually a problem with Western kind of democratization, as women do not have right to vote, and most of people also do not vote. The reason of such situation is traditional religion – Islam. There is no such tradition in this religion and there are rare examples of Muslim states that became democratic. Actually, there are several Muslim states, that became secular, but couldn’t become really democratic, they are authoritarian instead. The most “democratic” one is Turkey. However, even there the President more resembles dictator, than elected leader.
Does becoming rich actually mean becoming a democracy?
In fact, there are plenty examples of countries that became rich after establishment of democratic society. But becoming rich does not necessarily mean democracy. There are a lot of examples – Nazi Germany, the USSR, the People’s Republic of China, etc. So we cannot say that countries become democratic after becoming rich. In our case we have absolute monarchy which becomes richer because of huge reserves of oil. That is why there is no need to establish efficient democratic institutions, it can become richer in easier way – exhausting natural resources (so called Dutch disease).
If the UAE is so successful, then is democratization actually needed to the country?
The UAE is one of the freest Arab states, mostly due to its economic relations with Western countries. But at the same time it is still absolute monarchy and the process of democratization may take years. However, it is still not clear, if traditional democratization is exactly what is needed to the country, or traditional system will meet the challenges of globalization and survive.
The hypothesis of research paper is the following – there may be no democratization (of the Western kind, at least) but the country may nevertheless succeed and become rich.
Methods to prove the hypothesis of research paper will correspond with the raised questions. First of all, it is retrospective analysis – only after studying history of democratization in the UAE it will be possible to understand how this process might have influenced on the development of the country. The second important method is comparative analysis. We will try to compare similar countries from Middle East, which all have the same culture and religion, as well as huge reserves of oil, in order to find out some special features that allowed the UAE to build its own kind of democracy – aristocratic democracy, which actually works.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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