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Reinventing the Sheikhdom

Reinventing the Sheikhdom

Dr Matthew Hedges 18 May 2022 14.00 BST

While Khalifa bin Zayed succeeded his father as emir of Abu Dhabi and UAE president in 2004, the Emirates’ evolution has largely been accredited to Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed. Matthew Hedges argues that the reign has been characterised by the rise of the security apparatus and a micromanaged approach to governance.

Mohammed bin Zayed’s strategy of fortification has focused on pre-empting threats from the UAE’s native population, rather than from expatriates or foreign actors. As a result, according to Hedges, he has consolidated power, distributing its administration among his tribal and kinship allies. In essence, Mohammed bin Zayed has driven modernisation in order to strengthen his grasp on power.

Matthew Hedges is an academic focusing on authoritarian regimes, with an emphasis on the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. While conducting fieldwork research for his PhD in the UAE, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment under the charge of espionage but subsequently released. He was awarded his doctorate by Durham University.

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