Thursday, April 7, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: United Arab Emirates

The protests in the United Arab Emirates kicked off on March 9, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
UAE is a country I only know of because of the expensive and gorgeous man-made islands. But they are their own people with their own internal culture that has nothing to do with tourism (except with the economy of course). Let's dig in and see what we can learn about these people.

Basic History
The United Arab Emirates is often abbreviated to UAE or shortened to The Emirates . Geographically, it is located in southeast Asia and is part of the Midde East. Important bordering countries include: Saudi Arabia and Oman. it shares the Persian Gulf with several more countries that have been mentioned in this series:  Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran. The capital is Abu Dhabi. The population is estimated at 4.7 million people. The language is Arabic.
The Untied Arab Emirates' most recent leader is President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He is also the Emir of Abu Dhabi. He succeeded his father when the father died in 2004. He will be referred to as Sheikh Khalifa in most articles and definitely in this blog post. The Prime Minister is Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and he is also the Emirates Vice President. He was nominated by Sheikh Khalifa and approved by the UAE Federation National Council, only some of who are indirectly elected. All the rest are chosen by appointment in their various emirates. The UAE is a federation of seven different emirates. The UAE Prime Minister is the monarch of one of them, Dubai.

In terms of  independence, the United Arab Emirates drafted their constitution in 1971 after the end of a special treaty with the United Kingdom. There were nine at first with Bahrain and Qatar included, but those two states became independent when a government setup could not be agreed upon that satisfied all nine emirates.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: lack of universal suffrage, dissatisfaction with the constitution,

The intellectuals in the Emirates were the start of the uprising against the government. They wanted universal suffrage and for comprehensive reforms of the constitution. They drafted a petition and had upwards of 160 signatures, many of them academics and former Federal National Council members.

There have been changes made where the 6500 who used to vote for half the 20 FNC positions are appointed. The other half are appointed. They are still hoping for more reforms, but they have yet to come.
More information can be found at,, and

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