All the excitement about political reform in in the Gulf -- especially the small Gulf states -- is pure propaganda, in my opinion. Now the UAE wants to stage elections, although of course they won't change who's actually ruling the place. Same thing for the recent "democratic flowering" in Kuwait. I just don't see how there can be a democratic flowering in Kuwait while the al-Sabah are still around. Same goes for the Makhtoums and the al-Sauds. Meanwhile in Bahrain -- probably the most democratic place in the Gulf because of its internal divisions -- they are preparing to rig elections. Of course, in some of these places people (well, the minority of people living there that are actually citizens) might simply not care about democracy as the long as the rent money keeps flowing and the cheap foreign labor is docile and aplenty. If India or Sri Lanka were to annex Dubai, I think I'd fully support them.
The Arabist is published and edited by Issandr El Amrani, a writer and analyst based in Cairo, with contributions by friends.
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