United Arab Emirates Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

The royal houses of the United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as UAE by Abbreviationfinder, have a monopoly on power and cannot be called into question. At the federal level – between the emirates – there is a small element of elections, but universal suffrage or regular elections have not been introduced in the various emirates. M ├Âtesfriheten circumscribed and the judiciary is used to stifle criticism of the regime.

No political parties, trade unions or interest groups are allowed. Larger political gatherings are not tolerated. Demonstrations for political or trade union rights are dispelled by police.

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Who has the right to vote for the Federal National Council (see Political system) advises the rulers. The selection is characterized by clan interests. In 2015, only 35 percent of voters participated. One woman was elected to the council, while eight were among them (half of the council members) appointed by the government. For “ordinary people”, men as well as women, the influence is very small. Attempts to get democracy started have been particularly resisted since the Arab Spring of 2011, when several rulers in the Arab world were overthrown by mass protests.

Most residents of the emirate are not citizens and guest workers from other countries have even more limited rights than emirates (see Labor Market). Impunity was promised in 2019 for people who have worked black. The decision does not give them the right to stay, however, they do not have to go to prison.

Religious minorities (Christians, Hindus and Sikhs) are allowed to exercise their faith, on condition that they do not mission to convert Muslims. Churches and other assembly rooms have been built on land that is royally owned.

The country is considered less corrupt than the surrounding countries. When the Transparency International organization investigated the level of corruption in 180 countries in 2019, the United Arab Emirates reached 21, see list here. This means that most of the world’s countries were judged to be more corrupt. The propensity for power holders to bribe is of great importance to Transparency International’s assessments, but the state audit in the emirate does not make public its findings, and there is no other form of formal transparency. The emirate has been “blacklisted” by the EU, which believes it will facilitate tax evasion from other countries.

Freedom of expression and media

The media is under heavy state control and the 1980 press law is one of the most stringent in the Arab world. It is a criminal offense to publish something that can harm the state or the economy, including material posted on the internet. It is also forbidden to criticize the country’s leadership. The authorities have the right to censor both domestic and foreign publications and schoolbooks. Sites that conflict with “the country’s religious, cultural, political and moral values” are blocked. The media practice strict self-censorship and follow the line that the country’s official news agency has in reporting on sensitive topics. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Ranking, see list here, Emirates 2020 placed 131 among 180 countries.

Two large state-owned corporate giants – Abu Dhabi Media Company and Dubai Media Incorporated – dominate the media market. Both own both TV channels and radio stations as well as newspapers. In addition to Arabic, there are broadcasts in Urdu, French, Bengali and Filipino. The English-language newspapers Gulf News and Khaleej Times are published in Dubai, but are also distributed in neighboring countries. (Khalij means bay; the Gulf of Persia is called in Arabic context Arab bay.)

In four media free zones, including Dubai Media City and twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, both domestic and international media companies, such as the British BBC and US CNN, have established themselves with promises of freedom of expression and favorable economic conditions. Twofour54 refers to Abu Dhabi’s geographical coordinates 24 degrees north latitude and 54 degrees east longitude. Saudi-supported satellite channel al-Arabiyya, a competitor to more famous al-Jazira in Qatar, broadcasts from Dubai.

Since about 2017, podcast programs have been produced in Dubai, which despite being in English are said to reach quite a large spread in the Middle East. Among the podiums are one about successful women in the world and one aimed at guest workers in countries of the Persian Gulf.

Judicial system and legal security

Since 1978, the United Arab Emirates has a uniform, federal judiciary that handles civil law cases. The courts are not independent of political power. More than half of the judges are foreigners and work on fixed-term contracts.

Courts are obliged to take into account sharia, the Islamic law in their application. For example, impunity is imposed for infidelity and drug use. The death penalty is applied.

In 2013, nearly 100 dissenters – among other students and academics – were sentenced to prison sentences following a mass trial. Many were identified as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that leaders in several countries feel threatened with.

According to human rights organizations, torture occurs in prisons. As a result of the regime’s strike against regime critics after 2011, there are prisoners of conscience in the country’s prisons.

United Arab Emirates Crime Rate & Statistics