chapter  4
20 Pages

Legal actors and sociopolitical change in the contemporary Arab Gulf

ByDavid Mednicoff

This chapter deploys original data recently collected from a multi-year study of the rule of law in Qatar and other Gulf states in order to examine the role of legal actors in societies where a lack of autonomous judicial review is symptomatic of a frequent broader excess of authoritarianism. Three broad conclusions emerge from the study. Legal actors are central to states’ growth and ability to balance the political system and social pressures. The particular transnational and multinational nature of legal actors in a context like the Arab Gulf facilitates and helps maintain the very sort of hyperglobalised social emphasis that these countries have adopted. The peculiar, rapid, hyperglobalised setting of legal contestation in the contemporary Gulf highlights the contingent nature of what roles legal actors play in reform and stabilisation, particularly when one takes into account the diverse values and sources of legitimation underpinning the idea of the rule of law itself. The chapter discusses each of these arguments in a comparative perspective, with an eye to generalizing through specific data about what kind of model of legal politics the GCC might represent.