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UAE: sultanism meets illiberal democracy

Bartlett, Will ORCID: 0000-0002-6775-4339 and Prelec, Tena (2019) UAE: sultanism meets illiberal democracy. In: Bieber, Florian and Tzifakis, Nikolaos, (eds.) The Western Balkans in the World: Linkages and Relations with Non-Western Countries. Southeast European Studies. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, 241 - 259. ISBN 9781032240909

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Identification Number: 10.4324/9780429243349-13


Drawing on research carried out in Serbia, in Montenegro and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this chapter traces the UAE’s involvement in the Western Balkans over the 2010s, analyzing the motives for engagement and elaborating on the political culture underpinning it. The analysis demonstrates that the strong linkages that have developed between the UAE and the Western Balkan countries (primarily with Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) are structured around investment projects in a specific set of sectors, and that they have been designed within the context of the UAE’s strategic need for diversification in planning for a ‘post-oil’ future. We furthermore argue that these linkages have developed within a very specific political culture of what may be called ‘sultanism’, a political system that emphasizes the controlling power of a few individuals at the peak of the society, which easily engages with the varieties of illiberal democracy and competitive authoritarianism emerging in some Western Balkan countries. While the long-term philosophy underpinning the UAE’s style of investing is capable of providing stimulus for economic development in the Western Balkans, the lack of transparency surrounding many of these investments raises serious – and, at times, highly concerning – questions.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 14:39
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 16:45

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