x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Expatriate in the Gulf have become 'virtually indispensable'

A study reveals economic prosperity has come "at a daunting social cost", with citizens in the Gulf becoming minorities in their own countries.

ABU DHABI // The Arab world is experiencing a historic "Gulf moment" in which the UAE and its neighbours are taking the lead in human development, a prominent Emirati political scientist argues in a new academic paper.

But political stagnation remains an obstacle, with little demand for reform.

The study, entitled "Contemporary Socio-Political Issues of the Arab Gulf Moment", by Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, the professor of political science at UAE University and the lead author of the 2008 Arab Knowledge Report, studies the key social and political challenges in the Gulf states, the reasons for the lack of demand for political reform, and why the UAE's business model has managed to outshine others in the region. Messy experiences in the wider Arab world, including sectarian tensions in Iraq and Bahrain, have contributed to a lingering distrust of democracy as a governing tool.

Dr Abdulla reeled off a list of key economic and development indicators that showed the economic might of Gulf countries and the growing prosperity of their citizenry. But economic prosperity had also come "at a daunting social cost", with citizens in the Gulf becoming minorities in their own countries.

Fast-paced globalisation had given rise to concerns over citizenship and national identity. Expatriate populations had become "virtually indispensable" to the smooth running of the economy.

kshaheen@thenational.ae