The recent decision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to sign a peace treaty with Israel should not have come as a complete surprise. For the UAE has stood out as one of the most stable Arab states and a key ally of the West as a whole.
Against the turbulent developments in much of the Arab world emanating from what is called the Arab Spring, the UAE looks like an island of stability. Indeed, this is an attribute in which the UAE leadership takes pride. In 2011, the country’s leading think tank, the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), asserted that the UAE had become “a model of political stability at the regional and global levels.” To prove its point, the think tank, which is headed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, made reference to a recent report by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch that ranked the UAE as one of the most immune countries to political risks in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.
There have been individuals who have protested for more political liberties in the UAE, in the spirit of the early Arab Spring. Pro-democracy activists were