Government in the United Arab Emirates
Progress and pathologies
ByChristopher M. Davidson
Pages 17

The politics and government in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remain defined by an assortment of hereditary monarchies that are loosely assembled under a central, federal government dominated by the two wealthiest and most populous emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The ruler of Abu Dhabi's initially modest distributions of wealth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, much of Abu Dhabi's oil surpluses have been channelled into a massive allocative state that has taken care of almost all the UAE citizenry's needs. The UAE provides one of the best examples of a hybrid, neo-patrimonial political system, given the enormous number of institutions relative to its modest population size, and the active mixture that exists between traditional and more formal powers. Efforts are also being made to improve transparency across the government, given that many parts of the UAE establishment are still widely considered opaque and secretive.