In the current issue of Foreign Policy, Christopher Davidson, author of Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success: The Vulnerability of Success and Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond, discusses the increasingly repressive tactics in the United Arab Emirates.
In the face of increasing calls for political reform and events of the Arab Spring, the rulers of the UAE have imprisoned activists and increased censorship. Davidson looks at current conditions which is characterized not only by political repression but growing unemployment and an increasing disparity between rich and poor. In assessing the future of the UAE Davidson writes:
Overall, the UAE regime seems to be following Saudi Arabia’s direction on the Arab Spring. No protests or dissent of any kind will be tolerated, even if that means political prisoners have to be taken and the country’s international reputation damaged in the process. The arrests have broken several clauses in the UAE’s Constitution, notably Article 26, and have served to warn the entire national population that nobody is above reproach. The move is ill calculated and dangerous, and smacks of poor leadership, as any remaining space for communication and honest dialogue between the ruling elite and the population has now been closed off. As such, the UAE’s future political stability is now a little less certain than it was a week ago.