This summer I had the amazing opportunity of traveling to the United Arab Emirates to study Arabic. The culture was very different than back in America, especially the political system. The way they elect leaders, divide the power and keep control is very different than the democracy I am used to. However, it is just as effective.
The United Arab Emirates is comprised of seven different emirates, or mini countries as I saw it. They include Abu Dhabi, which is the capital, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ra’s al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The UAE gained it independent in 1971 from the United Kingdom. Its constitution was made permanent in 1996. Since their government style is very different, it can be referred to as a Federal Presidential Elected Monarchy since the president is elected from a set group of elite monarchs who rule the seven emirates.
The executive branch consists of the president who is currently Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan who took office in 2004. He is the ruler or Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. The head of the government is the Vice President and Prime Minister Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktum who is also the Sheikh or ruler of Dubai. The Deputy Prime Ministers are Saif bin Zayyid al-Nuhayyan and Mansur bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan. As you can tell from the last names, they are related to the President of the United Arab Emirates. There are no laws against electing family members into office. The Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers are chosen by the President.
There is a Federal Supreme Council that consist of the seven rulers of each emirate. Each ruler from the different seven emirates are chosen by their predecessor. Many times, their sons are chosen at a young age by council members of the specific emirate and are groomed to be the future leader. They are referred to as the Crown Prince of the specific Emirate they will rule in the future. The FSC or the Federal Supreme Council is the highest judicial body in the United Arab Emirates. It creates general policies and sanctions of federal legislations. The FSC also elects the president and Vice President from their members. They meet every five years to reaffirm the current President or elect a new President. There is no current limit on the amount of terms a president can serve. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have a veto power in the elections of the President.
The Legislative Branch consists of the Federal National Council or FNC that consists of 40 seats. Each ruler of the seven emirates appoint 20 members and 20 members are elected to four year terms. In the most recent elections in 2011, there were 129,274 voters. The elections are not based on a party system. Political parties are actually forbidden therefore, each candidate runs independently. In the most current election in 2011, there were 469 candidates which included 85 women for the 20 seats.
The Judicial Branch is comprised of a dual system of Sharia law and civil courts. The Judiciaries independence is guaranteed by the constitution. The Judicial Branch includes supreme courts and the Courts of First Instance. Judges are then appointed by the President. Each Emirate has its own local government and municipal government. The constitution allow the distribution of authority to each government level.
“The Political System of the UAE.” The Political System of the UAE. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.