Political Liberalization in Arab Gulf monarchies with a special emphasis on the experiences of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

Aşkar, İrem
Arab Gulf monarchies including the constitutional monarchies of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman; and the absolutist monarchies of the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in general, have a poor record of political liberalization. Until the early 1990̕s, there have been attempts to implement political reforms, however even limited political reforms have been short-lived. Nevertheless, political liberalization in the Arab Gulf monarchies has accelerated particularly since the end of the Cold War, as most of the Arab Gulf ruling elites were then convinced of opening up their political systems. Yet, regardless of similarities in their domestic political contexts, the quality and the quantity of political reform implemented, differed from one Arab Gulf state to another. This study aims to examine, how the ruling regimes of the Arab Gulf have responded to changes in the international context along with the increasing demands for political reform. In addition, it aims to provide the reader with a detailed examination of political liberalization in two specific Arab Gulf states, namely the Kuwait and the Saudi Arabia. Throughout this study, overall performances of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in terms of political liberalization are compared and the reasons why Kuwait has been noticeably more successful than Saudi Arabia in this field are studied. It is the basic conclusion of this study that despite Arab Gulf regimes have been slow in taking steps towards political liberalization, they are not immune to political liberalization, and that even the most conservative Arab Gulf monarchy, the Saudi Arabia has not been able to remain indifferent to change and political reform.


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Citation Formats
İ. Aşkar, “Political Liberalization in Arab Gulf monarchies with a special emphasis on the experiences of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2005.