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Country Analysis Brief: United Arab Emirates

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: United Arab Emirates
Source: Energy Information Administration

Since declaring independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—a federation of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Dubai, Ras al Khaymah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaywayn—has relied on its large oil and natural gas resources to support its economy. In 2012, hydrocarbon export revenues were $118 billion according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), up from approximately $75 billion in 2010. Overall, the hydrocarbon economy accounts for approximately 80% of government revenues and more than half of the country’s goods exports.

Beyond the hydrocarbon economy, the UAE is becoming one of the world’s most important financial centers and a major trading center in the Middle East. Investments in non-energy sectors, such as infrastructure and technology, continue to provide the UAE with insurance against oil price declines and global economic stagnation. Recovering oil prices and robust trade growth have buoyed the UAE’s economy, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) data indicate their GDP grew by 4.3% in 2012.

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FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world

November 23, 2013 Comments off

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world
Source: Thompson Reuters

Egypt is the worst country for women in the Arab world, closely followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, according to gender experts surveyed in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll released on Tuesday.

Comoros, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar came top of the survey, which assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

The results were drawn from answers from 336 gender experts invited to participate in an online survey by the foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and information company Thomson Reuters, in August and September.

+ Complete poll results

CRS — The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy (updated)

November 15, 2013 Comments off

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The UAE’s relatively open borders and economy have won praise from advocates of expanded freedoms in the Middle East while producing financial excesses, social ills such as human trafficking, and opportunity for UAE-based Iranian businesses to try to circumvent international sanctions. The social and economic freedoms have not translated into significant political change; the UAE government remains under the control of a small circle of leaders who allow citizen participation primarily through traditional methods of consensus-building. To date, these mechanisms, economic wealth, and reverence for established leaders have enabled the UAE to avoid wide-scale popular unrest. Since 2006, the government has increased formal popular participation in governance through a public selection process for half the membership of its consultative body, the Federal National Council (FNC). But, particularly since the Arab uprisings that began in 2011, there has been an increase in domestic criticism of the unchallenged power and privileges of the UAE ruling elite as well as the spending of large amounts of funds on elaborate projects that cater to tourists. The leadership has resisted any dramatic or rapid further opening of the political process and has suppressed Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamists and secular opposition activists, drawing substantial criticism from human rights groups.

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs

September 17, 2013 Comments off

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress

A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.

The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:

  • Australia,
  • Brazil,
  • Canada,
  • China,
  • Germany,
  • Israel,
  • Japan,
  • Mexico,
  • Norway,
  • the Russian Federation,
  • South Korea,
  • Spain,
  • the United Arab Emirates, and
  • the United Kingdom.

It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.

The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.

CRS — The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy

September 3, 2013 Comments off

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The UAE’s relatively open borders and economy have won praise from advocates of expanded freedoms in the Middle East while producing financial excesses, social ills such as human trafficking, and opportunity for UAE-based Iranian businesses to try to circumvent international sanctions. The social and economic freedoms have not translated into significant political change; the UAE government remains under the control of a small circle of leaders who allow citizen participation primarily through traditional methods of consensus-building. To date, these mechanisms, economic wealth, and reverence for established leaders have enabled the UAE to avoid wide-scale popular unrest. Since 2006, the government has increased formal popular participation in governance through a public selection process for half the membership of its consultative body, the Federal National Council (FNC ). But, particularly since the Arab uprisings that began in 2011, there has been an increase in domestic criticism of the unchallenged power and privileges of the UAE ruling elite as well as the spending of large amounts of funds on elaborate projects that cater to tourists. The leadership has resisted any dramatic or rapid further opening of the political process, and it is becoming increasingly aggressive in preventing the rise of Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist, as well as secular opposition movements. The crackdown is drawing increased criticism from human rights groups.

On foreign policy issues, the UAE—as has Qatar—has become increasingly assertive in recent years, using its the UAE’s ample financial resour ces and its drive to promote regional stability. The UAE has ordered the most sophisticated missile defense system sold by the United States, making the UAE pivotal to U.S. efforts to assemble a regional missile defense network directed primarily to counter Iran’s expanding missile force.

It also has joined the United States and U.S. allies in implementing significant financial and economic sanctions against Iran. The UAE has deployed about 250 troops to Afghanistan since 2003 and pledges to keep some forces there after the existing international security mission there ends in 2014. In 2011, it sent 500 police to help the beleaguered government of fellow Gulf Co operation Council (GCC) state Bahrain; UAE pilots flew combat missions against Muammar Qadhafi of Libya; and it joined the GCC diplomatic effort that brokered a political solution to the unrest in Yemen. The UAE is financially backing armed rebels in Syria. It gives large amounts of international aid, for example for relief efforts in Somalia, and the UAE is giving substantial aid to the transitional government of Egypt that followed the military ousting of President Mohammad Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader. For the Obama Administration and many in Congress, there were initial concerns about the UAE oversight and management of a complex and technically advanced initiative such as a nuclear power program, particularly for the potential leak age for U.S. and other advanced technologies to leak illicitly to Iran. These concerns were underscored by dissatisfaction among some Members of Congress with a U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. The agreement was signed on May 21, 2009, submitted to Congress that day, and entered into force on December 17, 2009. The concerns have since been largely alleviated by the UAE’s development of strict controls, capable management, and cooperation with international oversight of its nuclear program.

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf

August 21, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf
Source: Chatham House

The systemic waste of oil and gas in the Gulf is eroding economic resilience to shocks and increasing security risks, including to citizens’ health. Success or failure in setting and meeting sustainable energy goals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will have a global impact, says a new report Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf.

The six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Bahrain – now consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa. Yet they have just one twentieth of that continent’s population. Energy intensity in the region is high and rising in contrast to other industrialized regions and is driven by systemic inefficiencies.

Almost 100% of energy in the region is produced from oil and gas without carbon dioxide abatement, and water security is increasingly dependent on energy-driven desalination. If the region’s fuel demand were to continue rising as it has over the last decade, it would double by 2024. This is a deeply undesirable prospect for both the national security of each state and the global environment.

Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf is the first report to offer practical recommendations that address the key challenges of governance, political commitment and market incentives from a GCC-wide perspective. It draws on the results of two years of research and workshops in the region, with representatives of over 60 local institutions w ith a critical interest in and influence over domestic energy.

The report concludes that efficiency savings are urgent, achievable and will build a bridge to renewables deployment.

CRS — The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy

April 23, 2013 Comments off

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

The UAE’s relatively open borders and economy have won praise from advocates of expanded freedoms in the Middle East while producing financial excesses, social ills such as human trafficking, and opportunity for Iranian businesses based there to try to circumvent international sanctions. The social and economic freedoms have not translated into significant political change; the UAE government remains under the control of a small circle of leaders, although it allows informal and some formal citizen participation to supplement traditional methods of consensusbuilding. To date, these mechanisms, economic wealth, and reverence for established leaders have enabled the UAE to avoid wide-scale popular unrest. Since 2006, the government has increased formal popular participation in governance through a public selection process for half the membership of its consultative body, the Federal National Council (FNC). But, particularly since the Arab uprisings of 2011-12, discontent has risen somewhat over the unchallenged power and privileges of the UAE ruling elite as well as the government strategy of spending large amounts of funds on elaborate projects that cater to expatriates and international tourists. The leadership has resisted any dramatic or rapid further opening of the political process, and it is becoming increasingly aggressive in preventing the rise of Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist as well as secular opposition movements. The crackdown is drawing increased criticism from human rights groups.

On foreign policy issues, the UAE—along with fellow Gulf state Qatar—has become increasingly assertive in recent years—a product of the UAE’s ample financial resources and its drive to promote regional stability. The UAE has joined the United States and U.S. allies in backing and then implementing most international sanctions against Iran, causing friction with its powerful northern neighbor. It has ordered the most sophisticated missile defense system sold by the United States, making the UAE pivotal to U.S. efforts to assemble a regional missile defense network directed primarily to counter Iran’s expanding missile force. The UAE has deployed troops to Afghanistan since 2003 and pledges to keep some forces there after the existing international security mission there ends in 2014. Since 2011, it has sent police to help the beleaguered government of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state Bahrain, supported operations against Muammar Qadhafi of Libya, joined the GCC diplomatic effort that brokered a political solution to the unrest in Yemen, and financially backed rebels in Syria. It gives large amounts of international aid, for example for relief efforts in Somalia.

For the Obama Administration and many in Congress, there were early concerns about the UAE oversight and management of a complex and technically advanced initiative such as a nuclear power program. This was underscored by dissatisfaction among some Members of Congress with a U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. The agreement was signed on May 21, 2009, submitted to Congress that day, and entered into force on December 17, 2009. Concerns about potential leakage of U.S. and other advanced technologies through the UAE to Iran, in particular, have been largely alleviated by the UAE’s development of strict controls, capable management, and cooperation with international oversight of its nuclear program.

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