The Arab Spring and the Gulf monarchies

Authored by: Christopher M. Davidson

The Routledge Handbook to the Middle East and North African State and States System

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367358877
eBook ISBN: 9780429342486
Adobe ISBN:


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The Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia and its five smaller neighbours: the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain) have long been governed by highly autocratic and seemingly anachronistic regimes. Yet despite bloody conflicts on their doorsteps, fast-growing populations and powerful modernizing and globalizing forces impacting on their largely conservative societies, they have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Obituaries for these traditional monarchies have frequently been penned, but in the wake of the 2011 “Arab Spring” Uprising and the fall of incumbent presidents in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, most of the Gulf monarchies have, at first glance, re-affirmed their status as the Middle East’s only real bastions of stability. This chapter seeks to: 1) explain this phenomenon and identify the monarchies’ various legitimizing strategies; and 2) to investigate the emergence of new kinds of opposition movements in the region, including those that may prove harder to contain in the short and medium-term future.

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