When Britain elected to relinquish its colonies east of the Suez Canal, of which the Emirates and Qatar were a part, doubts were many, among observers, as to the possibility of transforming these sheikhdoms into a unified entity. And, even in the eventuality that such should transpire, wagers were that whatever did would not be characterized by any sort of permanence or sustainability. Despite the fact that the native inhabitants of the region were considering a union that would comprise Bahrain and Qatar, in addition to the seven Emirates, the historical legacy of border disputes with regional states and the influence of global powers colluded to facilitate only the inception of the union in 1971 of the seven Emirates, consisting of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al-Sharjah, Ajman, Ra's al-Khaimah, al-Fuairah and Umm al-Quwain, at a time when Qatar and Bahrain had previously announced their independence. This research paper sheds a light on the extent of what the states of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar have accomplished in the spheres of growth and security since their inception, in addition to the nature of the challenges they confront as well as how their governments dealt with the ‘Arab Spring’. Then, it concludes the discussion with some focal points for reform in the coming years. Furthermore, it is the author's belief that the analysis and conclusions derived herein can be considered to have a connection of applicability to the other Arab countries, especially the oil-producing ones, as they are expressive of a pervasive regional developmental crisis. This research is divided into an introduction, five sections and a conclusion. The first section examines the difficult birth of these two entities at the outset of the 1970s; the second section discusses the fragility of the institutional environment and framework of the two states at this stage; the third section shed some light on the constraints and effects of regional development in the two states; the fourth section analyzes the extent of the overspill and of the ‘Arab Spring’ and its repercussions in these two nations; and the concluding section proposes some recommendations for reform for them in the coming years.
The future of reform in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar
This paper was presented at ‘The Future of Change in the Arab Nation” conference, Beirut, Lebanon, 9–12 November 2015, and sponsored by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) and the Swedish Institute Alexandria. The views expressed in this study are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAUS.
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Yousef Khalifah al-Yousef; The future of reform in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 April 2016; 9 (2): 252–281. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17550912.2016.1157985
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