Analyzing the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia’s Special Relationship
By Christopher Gooding
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are very similar in a number of ways; culturally, economically, and even in sharing the same traditions; however the way the countries are managed and the way of life in each is fundamentally different in numerous ways. Though Islamic royal families govern both, there are some key differences that also need addressing. Introduction:
In order to be intuitive and analyze the relationship between these two neighboring countries, one must first know the basic background of the region and the formations of the countries. The United Arab Emirates is a relatively small Federation that lies on the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia, Oman, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran. The U.A.E. is made up of 7 states, or emirates that are each ruled by an individual monarch; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain,,Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. Though the capital and center of commerce is Abu Dhabi, Dubai is the leading emirate in the tourism department and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year (Alkim, 2010). Though the UAE is a heavily Muslim, Arabic speaking country, the society itself is extremely liberal. When one walks through a mall in Dubai for example, it is normal to see ladies dressed in Western attire walking along side those wearing the traditional Hijab. Norms such as this allow for a sense of comfort among the foreigners that travel there and allow them to feel like they are right at home. The U.A.E. is said to have a very democratic feel to it, almost as though it were a Democracy. This is all, however, an illusion. This essay will look at the Saudi Arabian influence on the U.A.E. and their contemporary relationship as fellow Islamic countries. Islam in the Region
This section will not attempt to define Islam as a religion; it will however describe its persuasive tendency to get what it wants. Yet how can a religion discern likes and dislikes? The answer is that it can’t; but the face of the religion, Saudi Arabia, can. In Saudi Arabia, Sharia Law is followed to the letter. All women, regardless of nationality or religion must wear the Hijab, and only recently are allowed to drive with the consent of their father or husband. Those who steal are often displayed in a main square and publically have their fingers chopped off, though this brutal tradition is slowly declining in popularity; perceived to be a way of pleasing the West. The government censors the media, cutting scenes from movies in an attempt to essentially protect the youth from attaining westernized ideology’s that hinder the dominance of Islamic culture in the region. A common joke that movie commercials are longer than the actual movies has even been circulated. It is also to be noted that it is impossible to get a Saudi visa unless one is Muslim, or travelling for business in which a sponsor living within Saudi Arabia must be held accountable. Tourist Visas are therefore nonexistent. This is indeed a form of protectionism that has been implemented for one reason alone: to keep Western liberalism out and traditional Islamic tradition in place.
The U.A.E. is of course also a Muslim country, however their approach is much more socially Liberal than that of Saudi Arabia; which has often come in the way of strengthening their ties with Saudi as they have always pushed for more conservative laws and restrictions (Metz, 2010). The U.A.E. has no formal restrictions on attire, however it is urged to respect the culture of the local peoples by dressing appropriately in public. It is not usually a hassle to get a visa, though the immigration of Israeli nationals is essentially illegal; though the U.A.E. is rumored to have traded weapons with them in the past. That aside, the U.A.E. has a tendency to support its international community by setting...
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