United Arab Emirates. According to Countryaah official site, the country remained largely untouched by the Arab Spring. In a manifesto addressed to President Khalifa ibn Zayid Al Nayan in April, intellectuals and human rights activists demanded free elections and legislative powers for the country’s parliament. The manifesto, which was signed “your loyal children” received no response, but five of the signatories were arrested and charged with “conspiracy against state security”. Visit ABBREVIATIONFINDER for the acronym of UAE that stands for the country of United Arab Emirates.
The election for 20 of the 40 seats in the Consultative Parliament on September 25 attracted no major interest. The number of eligible voters had increased from 6,000 in 2006 to 130,000, but they still constituted a minority of the country’s adult citizens and a fraction of the country’s total population comprising 80% of guest workers. Only a quarter of the voters participated. No political parties were allowed; all candidates were independent but in practice loyal to the president.
Economy, energy and environment
The UAE are among the world’s leading producers of gas and oil and among the prominent members of ad hoc organizations such as OPEC and the GECF. The Emirates are the seventh largest oil producer in the world – about 100 billion barrels, of which over 90% are located in the Abu Dhabi territory – with an average daily production that exceeded three million barrels in 2012. The performance of the economy of the Emirates are historically linked to the trend in oil prices: they grew steadily during the 1980s and 1990s, they accelerated significantly in the five-year period 2003-08, and then suffered a slight decline during the financial crisis of 2009. The economy has then underwent a new acceleration in 2011 thanks to the peaks reached in the prices of hydrocarbons after the Arab Springs and the tensions regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
The government has been engaged for several years in a process of economic diversification with the aim of reducing dependence on the oil sector, while reducing its exposure to fluctuations in crude oil prices. The process was concentrated both in massive investments in non-oil sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, petrochemical and construction and clean energy, as well as in the attempt to develop manufacturing production and commercial activity, especially re-export to the Middle East region, through the creation of free zones and special economic zones, designed to attract and encourage the flow of private investments.
The growing increase in domestic energy consumption has convinced local authorities to develop a civilian nuclear program. Abu Dhabi has seen its electricity consumption nearly double over the past decade. The government estimates that there will be a new surge in electricity demand from the current 15.5 gigawatts to over 40 by 2020. Unable to meet the demand for energy with natural gas or renewables alone, the government started in 2012, thanks to the collaboration with the South Korean consortium Kepco, the construction of the first of four nuclear power plants, which is expected to be fully operational in 2017.
Despite the successes, including a notable growth in the service sector (today almost 40% of the national GDP), oil revenues continue to constitute a preponderant part of government revenues and therefore affect public sector spending and stimulate consumption. private individuals, on which a large part of the non-oil economy depends. There are also considerable differences between the individual emirates in their respective economic structures and therefore also in the choices made in terms of economic policy. Abu Dhabi holds 94% of the UAE’s total oil reserves (97.8 billion barrels), an amount that is estimated to guarantee current levels of extraction for at least another ninety years. This willingness has strongly hampered the emirate in pursuing the objectives of economic diversification, making it the least inclined to open up to foreign investments. The considerable currency reserves it has (Abu Dhabi has the second largest sovereign fund in the world) also allow the emirate to invest significant amounts of resources in development programs and projects in the most diverse sectors, from the cultural to the urban planning, passing through the infrastructural one and the organization of major events.
With oil reserves less than a twentieth of those of Abu Dhabi, Dubai was the first emirate to feel the need to free itself from its dependence on crude oil. In this way Dubai has gradually transformed itself into one of the hubs commercial centers and in one of the most important financial centers of the Middle East region. The huge investments in the services and tourism sectors have caused a significant increase in the value of real estate property in the last twenty years, a real driving force for the take-off of the construction sector and therefore of one of the locomotives of the Emirate’s economy. The large-scale construction of skyscrapers, tourist complexes and technological service hubs have made Dubai one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In December 2009, the implosion of the housing bubble revealed the holding’s large indebtednessDubai World, the publicly owned company that controls the emirate’s main real estate investments, triggering a crisis of confidence in the national and international financial circuits. The bailout of Dubai World, which took place through the financial coverage granted by the federal government and thanks to the renegotiation of the debt, has shown how the Emirate government, and above all that of Abu Dhabi, is not willing to allow a downsizing of the role of Dubai and points to safeguard its international reputation, guaranteeing the capital owned by its banks, all of which are very exposed to the local financial network. The bailout financial and the recovered political-economic protagonism have allowed the emirate of Dubai to win the prestigious international event of Expo 2020. With the theme ‘ Connecting Minds, Creating the Future ‘, Dubai beat competing cities of Sao Paulo, Ekaterinburg and Izmir.