27 April 2011

On 24 April, the UAE government issued a decree dissolving the board of the Jurist Association, as the backlash against a petition calling for political reform continues. According to the decree, the Jurist Association violated section 16 of the UAE’s 2008 Law on Associations, which prohibits non-governmental organisations and its members from interfering in politics or in matters that impair state security and its ruling regime.

On 26 April, UAE authorities arrested five political activists in the wake of a petition calling for a more representative government. The activists were detained for “opposing the government” and were being questioned over “perpetrating acts that pose a threat to state security”. They were also accused of insulting Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

10 March 2011

Protests are planned for 25 March by a Facebook group. Activists are calling for a democratically elected Federal National Council (FNC).

Government actions:

  • The number of Emiratis who can vote for members of the FNC has been extended, but it remains a tiny fraction of the local population
  • In early March, the federal government promised to invest $1.5bn in infrastructure in the poorer northern emirates

Political Risk assessment

It is unlikely there will be significant protests as the largest emirates enjoy a high standard of living and a vibrant economy.

23 February 2011

The UAE is not quite the oasis of calm that tourist brochures suggest, but the federation remains a very low risk when it comes to popular protest. While Ras al-Khaimah has witnessed a succession struggle in recent years, which in 2003 caused unrest on the streets of the emirate, the UAE lacks the socio-economic conditions that have triggered demonstrations in Bahrain and Yemen.

Dubai’s economic travails have not impinged on the local population, although expatriate workers have in the past staged demonstrations related to working conditions on building sites. The smaller, non-hydrocarbon-rich emirates – lacking the fiscal resources of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – could be vulnerable to unrest, but the country’s wealth is sufficiently widely spread to avoid a serious deterioration in living conditions for nationals.