chapter  7
23 Pages

National identity in the UAE and its capacity for social transformation

ByJames Toth

It has been said that the Arab spring uprisings were instigated primarily through social media. Countries such as Tunisia and Egypt witnessed their youth fervently organizing events by means of electronic gadgets and social media software like Facebook and Twitter. This chapter examines the role of social media in the United Arab Emirates, and such inputs as class alliances, state legitimacy and cultural identity, in order to reach a solid understanding of these events elsewhere and their non-existence in the UAE. The article concludes that social media are the tools of modernization, but not the mechanisms for revolt. Instead, they forge a strong bond of modernization and compliance. The absence of an Arab Spring in such Gulf countries as the UAE becomes a function of (1) the distinction between upper- and middle-class (indigenous) and lower-class (expatriate) residents, (2) the eudemonic legitimacy from a benign dynastic monarch vs. the illegitimacy from a rapacious president-for-life) and (3) contested identities resolved by embracing the modernization preached through social media that deny the unity necessary for a successful Arab Spring.