More pretend elections in the Gulf

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.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.