The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain Relations

Introduction

The world is increasingly becoming a global village due to the emergent of improved means of communication and transport system. The global society is now closely knit than it ever was in history. Events happening in one part of the world easily affect people in the other part, as seen in the Syrian problem that has caused an influx of refugees in Europe. International relation has, therefore, become an important issue of concern because countries can no longer claim to exist in isolation. Whatever affects Bahrain either positively or negatively will have an effect on many other countries in the Middle East and sometimes to the rest of the world. It explains why countries have now become very keen to define their foreign policies to ensure that they have close allies that can help them overcome challenges and participate in achieving socio-economic and political success. A critical analysis of the political atmosphere of the Middle East clearly demonstrates consequences of poor foreign relations between the states in this region. Achieving regional peace is the responsibility of each individual state working closely with other states and sharing a common goal of prosperity for the region. Conflicting national interests may make it difficult for two countries to form a working relationship unless they are able and willing to make compromises and be ready to share benefits and challenges that come with their relations.

The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain have had close socio-political and economic ties long before independence. According to Katzman, soon after independence, the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar had plans to unite the three former British colonial territories into one nation (71). However, they were unable to come up with proper mechanisms of achieving this unity. This did not affect the close relations of these countries. Although these two countries do not share a common border, they have maintained close economic and political relations over the years despite the challenges that have recently been witnessed in this region. Although a small nation, Bahrain’s location has made it economically strategic to its neighboring countries, including the United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, the growing relevance of some of the Emirati cities such as Dubai has made the country significantly important to Bahrain that largely relies on imports, especially in the manufacturing industry.

The current political environment in the Middle East has clearly indicated the nature of relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The political tensions between Saudi Arabia, one of the closest allies of Bahrain, and Iran forced the government of Saudi Arabia to end its diplomatic relations with Iran. Bahrain, as a way of showing its support to its ally, went ahead to sever its relationship with Iran. In response to this move by Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates went ahead and downgraded its diplomatic relations with Iran. This is a clear indication that the relation between Bahrain and United Arab Emirates is still very close. The two countries still share foreign policies and believe that they have a common destiny. They are determined to work closely together and face their foes as a single unit instead of having divisive strategies. In this paper, the researcher seeks to analyze the past, present, and future political, social, and economic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Rationale for the study

International relation as a concept has increasingly become very important in a world where countries are literally competing to become major players in economic, social, and political spheres. The way one country relates to the other affects the economic, social, and political environment of the specific countries involved, and the international community at large. Foreign policies that a country has towards its neighbors and the international community at large have a significant influence on its own internal socio-political and social environment. According to Alua, a number of countries around the world have experienced serious economic and political challenges because of the foreign policies they embrace (46). It is for these reasons that many nations are now keen when defining their relationship with the international community.

In the Middle East, many countries are currently suffering from the problem of political instability that is directly linked to poor international relations. Syria is currently on the verge of becoming a failed state. Other countries in this region such as Iraq and Yemen now lack political leadership because of the foreign policies that they embraced in the past. ISIS has emerged as a serious security threat in the region, and its activities are not just confined within the borders of the three warring countries, but also to the rest of the world. The political tension between Israel and Palestine has resulted in loss of lives of many innocent people and destruction of properties in both countries. Currently, the political tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan is affecting all the countries involved.

It is, therefore, very clear that the relations between one country and another is very important. The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain have maintained close ties, and this is very beneficial in promoting peace, socio-economic, and political stability. The two countries are not sharing borders, but this has not affected the way they approach some of the international concerns as a unit. Studying this relationship is very important because it will help determine if it will be maintained in the future. As Katzman argues, for two or more countries to maintain close relations, they must have common goals (83). In most of the cases, they have to create these goals so that they can continue walking together as a unit. The researcher will investigate if the two countries have been committed to creating new opportunities that will help in uniting them as they find common solutions.

Research aim and objectives

When conducting a research, Burns believes that it is important to come up with clear research aims and objectives that will guide the process of collecting and analyzing data (88). In this study, the primary aim is to investigate the past, present, and future social, economic, and political relationship between United Arab Emirates. The following are the specific objectives that the researcher should achieve by the end of this study.

  • To investigate the past social, economic, and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
  • To assess the current social, economic, and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
  • To predict the future social, economic, and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain

Research questions and hypotheses

International relations as a field of study is very broad and a researcher can easily lose focus because of the numerous interesting historical facts that is often encountered. It is, therefore, important to come up with research questions that will help in the data collection process. Research questions helps in ensuring that only relevant data is collected. The following are the specific research questions that will be used in data collection in the study.

  1. What is the nature of the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain’s relations before and after independence?
  2. What are the social, economic, and political factors that have influenced the relations between these two countries?
  3. Why is the relationship very important to both the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain?
  4. What are the two countries doing in order to protect their close relations?
  5. What trend have the two countries taken towards defining their future relations?

Developing research hypothesis helps in making possible predictions about the possible research findings that will be made when data analysis is completed. The following are the hypotheses that the researcher developed. Analysis of data will help in confirming or rejecting these hypotheses.

  • H 1: The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have had close social, political, and economic relations in the past.
  • H 2: The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain currently maintain a mutually beneficial socio-economic and political relation.
  • H 3: The United Arab Emirates are committed to maintaining their close relations.

Definitions

This research was conducted in the context of international relations hence there are some words that may not have literal English meaning. The researcher, therefore, set the section within this chapter specifically for explaining the terms. Some words and phrases considered technical are also explained in this section. This was done to ensure that the dissertation remains relevant in the context from which it was conducted while remaining relevant to those in other fields that may find the material useful in one way or the other.

  • Abu Dhabi Buzz: a women forum, created in 2009 in United Arabs Emirates to help in ensuring general welfare.
  • Affirmative Action: a set of procedures or programs always aimed at ensuring equity within an organization, in a community or in a country.
  • Allah: The Almighty God, the creator.
  • Anarchy: lack of properly constituted government which can enforce rule of law.
  • Annex: take away part of a territory
  • Archipelago: several islands
  • Bilateral relations: Economic, cultural, or political relations between two states
  • CEDAW: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: an international body that fights any form of women discrimination across the world (Katzman 57).
  • Culture: a set of beliefs, principles, or practice that guide the general way of life of a group of people.
  • Embargo: official trade ban or restrictions
  • Foreign policy: goals that a given state seeks to obtain abroad, values which give rise to the goals, and instruments or means of pursuing these goals.
  • GCC: Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Id: a festive for Islamic faithful.
  • Ikhtilaf: lack of agreement in principle amongst Muslim scholars.
  • International relations: field of political science focusing on global studies
  • ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
  • Jahannam: hell, place of suffering where those who sin on the Earth go to suffer when they die, according to the teachings of Quran (Gause 78).
  • Khuluq: general ethics or a standard behavior expected of one.
  • Madrasah: a school system among Muslims
  • OPEC: Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Gause 52)
  • Protected Class: a group of individuals who enjoy privileges over others within a firm, a region, or a state because of their religion, race, gender, or any other factor considered superior to others (Katzman 72).
  • Protectionism: protecting the local economy from stiff competition in the international market by imposing tariffs on imports
  • Reverse Discrimination: unfavorable or unfair practice mated against the majority of a given group or society.
  • Sectarian violence: communal violence that is inspired by sectarianism
  • Shariah: Islamic law which governs running of most of the Islamic countries
  • Shia Muslims: a section of Muslims that makes about 20% of the Muslim population in the world, majorly found in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen (Gause 63).
  • Structural violence: latent (hidden) social conflict
  • Sunni Muslims: a section of Muslims that makes about 80% of the total Muslim population in the world, majorly found in the United Arabs Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Africa (Katzman 29)
  • UN: United Nation
  • WTO: World Trade Organization

Summary

The United Arab Emirates is currently one of the economic powerhouses in the Middle East. Its city of Dubai is currently one of the leading economic and tourists’ centers attracting people from all over the world. It has also experienced a long period of socio-economic and political prosperity over the years despite the political turmoil that has been experienced in the region. This prosperity can only be maintained if the country maintains sustainable relations with its immediate neighbors and the international community. Bahrain is one of the regional countries that United Arab Emirates has maintained close relations with over the years. In this study, the researcher analyses the past, present, and future relations of this countries in the social, political, and economic contexts. This chapter provides background information about the research topic, rationale for the study and definitions of terms used, and research aims and objectives. The chapter also outlines the questions that will be used in the study and hypotheses.

Literature Review

The society today has been transformed into a globalized village where people interact easily thanks to developments which have been experienced in the fields of transport and communication. Whatever little thing that happens in one corner of the world easily affects people in other parts of the world because of this closely knit nature of our modern society. Alua says that “in a world where thousands of nuclear weapons exist and more countries are trying to acquire them, where suicide terrorist strikes come without warning and thousands die each day from poverty caused by the way the international system operates, we need to know about and understand international relations” (27). We need to understand how countries relate with one another and how this relationship affects the social, economic, and political fabric of our globalised society (Gause 73). It is important to understand why countries need to have foreign policies that make them appreciate that no single country is an island. Inasmuch as sovereignty of nations is very important and cannot be compromised, nations today must realize that they need their neighbors and sometimes allies in other continents to be secure and economically prosperous.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has experienced a long period of political instability in a number of its member countries that has affected the social and economic environment. Since the time most of these nations gained independence, rivalry among some of the neighbors due to border disputes among other issues have created animosity amongst various nations within this region (Katzman 78). The region has remained politically charged and this has made it difficult to have peace. If it is not the political instability in Yemen, then it is the problem in Syria, or the rivalry between Palestine and Israel. It is believed that the structural violence that has been witnessed in parts of this region is not only politically instigated but also economically driven. ISIS, a terror group that is increasingly becoming popular in the region, not only has political ambitions but also economic goals such as controlling strategic oil fields in the region (Colombo 73). While some scholars believe that such terror groups use their political influence to gain economic power, some believe that the terror groups’ primary aim in the Middle East is to gain economic power (Burns 141). Colombo says that “in reality, the Middle East, North Africa, and much of the Islamic world are caught up in an interlocking pattern of crises that has become steadily more serious over time, and that now seems almost certain play out over at least the next decade” (83). Many experts have predicted that the sectarian violence, especially the one pitting the Sunni Muslims against the Shia Muslims, may not easily come to an end in a near future unless the regional leaders show commitment towards having dialogue to address some of the issues that bring conflict (Alua 82).

Despite this animosity, there are some countries that have chosen to work closely in order to achieve common economic, social, and political goals. Most of them have now realized that their future economic, social, and political success lies in having close ties with regional and international community. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are some of the countries which have maintained close relations with the regional and international communities. It is necessary to look at how these two countries have individually forged their relations with the international society.

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is country located in southeastern part of Arabian Peninsula on Persian Gulf (Burns 174). It shares its eastern border with Oman and southern border with Saudi Arabia. It also shares sea borders with Iran and Qatar (Colombo 119). The country gained independence in 1971 from British rule and currently has a population of about 9.2 million people, most of who are expatriates coming to the country primarily as skilled and semi-skilled workers. Following the unification of the seven Emirates to form the United Arab Emirates, the country has enjoyed a long period of political stability because of the strong leadership that has been offered by the current political system put in place during the unification. In this section, the focus will be to critically review the relations that this country has maintained with the local and international society. The United Arab Emirates has maintained an extensive commercial and diplomatic relations with the international community over the past several years as it tries to open up its economy and also take advantage of the opportunities in the international market (Peck 41).

UAE’s relations with the world

The United Arab Emirates joined the United Nations soon after gaining independence in 1971. It also joined the World Trade Organization soon after as it sought to take advantage of the global market that this organization offered. A research by Gause shows that the UAE is one of the countries in the Middle East which have maintained close relations with several countries in the international arena (24). The country has maintained close ties with a number of countries which are very strategic for its socio-economic and political development. The country has been careful when selecting its allies in the international community as it is keen on enhancing its economy as well as protecting its borders from a possible invasion by regional or international foes. One of the countries that the UAE has maintained close relations with is the United States. Peck says that “the UAE spends more than any other country in the world to influence U.S. policy and shape domestic debate, and it pays former high-level government officials who worked with it to carry out its agenda within the U.S.” (53). This is a clear indication that the UAE considers the United States as a strategic partner that must be kept close at all costs. It is believed that this close relation is politically and economically instigated. The United Arab Emirates is the seventh largest producer of oil among the OPEC countries, while the United States is the leading consumer of energy in the world. With the high purchasing power of the United States, it offers the best market for the petroleum products from the UAE. That is partly why the two countries have maintained close economic ties. The UAE also imports a number of manufactured products from the United States such as machinery, vehicle, and electronics among others. The city of Dubai is one of the most favorite business hubs for Americans.

The close relationship between these two countries is also politically instigated. The MENA region has constantly experience a number of uprisings in the recent past and emergence of terror groups. The nature of security in this region makes it necessary for UAE to have an ally that can come to its aid when it is under attack from the terror groups or overaggressive neighbors (Peck 52). UAE also imports weapons from the United States. The United States, being the only superpower in the world with high military capacity, is the most appropriate country to form alliance with for this country. “France and the United States have played the most strategically significant roles with defense cooperation agreements and military material provision” (Colombo 81). Socially, the United States has remained one of the favorite destinations for Emirati nationals who are interested in furthering their education or settling abroad. The liberal nature of this country, its political stability and rule of law, its strong economic power, and the respect they have towards human rights has made many Emirati nationals believe that it is a safe country to settle in away from Middle East.

The UAE has also maintained both diplomatic and economic ties with other nations around the world, some of which are allies of the U.S. while others are its foes. The United Kingdom, Germany, and France are some of the countries that UAE has maintained bilateral relations with over the years. During the Arab Spring in Libya, the United Arab Emirates joined France and United States in enforcing no-fly-zone within the Libyan borders by sending over 12 military aircrafts in the region. A report by Rugh shows that most of the highly specialized military personnel in the UAE’s army are graduates from UK’s Royal Military Academy (57). Japan is also another strategic business partner, especially because of its high consumption of energy in its manufacturing and transport sectors (Rugh 70). Russia and China have widely been viewed as enemies of the United States and its allies. However, this has not stopped the UAE from trading or having diplomatic ties with them. China has increasingly become a major trading partner over the past two decades. The city of Dubai has become a strategic business hub for a number of Chinese firms. It has become a gateway to the international market. The United Arab Emirates also has close business relations with a number of African countries, especially in the Northern and Eastern parts of Africa. Most of the oil products from this country are sold in the international markets. India has also been a close ally of UAE over the recent past. Indians are the dominant population of the expatriates living in UAE, especially in the city of Dubai (Alua 82).

UAE’s relations with MENA countries

In the MENA region, the United Arab Emirates has maintained a number of close allies. According to Colombo, this region has remained politically charged, with some terror groups having direct support from some governments (110). This has made it necessary for this country to have close relations with some of its neighboring countries to ensure that its borders remain protected. Being one of the founding nations of the GCC, this country has played a critical role in the regional socio-economic and political activities. It has often supported the decisions made by OPEC to help protect the oil market which is one of its main export products. A study by Rugh indicates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the closest allies of the United Arab Emirates since the two countries gained independence (38). They have shared common foreign policies as they try to keep their borders safe from traditional enemies such as Iran. When Saudi Arabia and Pakistan became the first two countries in the world to recognize the legitimacy of Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates joined the two countries as a sign of solidarity with them. This was an indication of how valuable UAE considers its relations with Saudi Arabia to be. Recently, the dispute between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated and Saudi Arabia announced that it was severing its relations with Iran. The United Arab Emirates acted swiftly and downgraded its diplomatic ties with Iran.

Egypt has been another close ally of UAE in the MENA region. A report by Rugh shows that UAE is currently the largest investor in Egypt within the Arab World (132). The two countries maintained close relations during the rule of Hosni Mubarak and his predecessors. The political turmoil that has been experienced in the country has affected the Egyptian business environment. However, most of the Emirati nationals still consider it a lucrative country to do business in despite these challenges. During the Egyptian revolution, UAE was forced to remain neutral because of the stance that had been taken by the international community (Alua 114). Sudan and Pakistan also have close economic and political ties with UAE.

For a long time, UAE has maintained close economic ties with Iran. In fact, a number of Iranians have been living in territories claimed by UAE. The political tension between the two countries was only caused by the strained relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A number of Islamic states have openly declared their desire to eliminate the Jewish state, Israel from the map of Middle East. However, UAE has been cautious over the issue, especially due to direct support Israel has been receiving from the United States over the years (Gause 132). In 2015, UAE joined Saudi led coalition to fight Shia Houthis in order to restore the leadership of President Abdullah Ali Saleh who was forced into exile during the country’s uprising in 2011.

UAE’s relations with Bahrain

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have had historical ties since the time of colonialism. Both countries were colonized by the United Kingdom and gained independence almost at the same time. At the time of independence, there were high hopes that UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar would unite to form a single stage. However, a study by Colombo shows that this was not possible due to a number of socio-economic and political issues that could not be easily resolved (27). Finally, they decided to form three independent states, but with very close socio-economic and political ties. Since then, UAE and Bahrain have had very close political and economic ties.

Bahrain is a relatively small country with a small population. It has been relying on UAE as a major regional trading partner to boost its economic conditions. A number of Emirati investors have are currently in Bahrain involved in trade in various industries. Bahrain nationals also find the Emirati markets very attractive, especially the city of Dubai that has become a global business center.

The diplomatic ties between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have remained very close. Bahrain has its embassy in the city of Abu Dhabi, and UAE has its embassy in Bahrain’s capital Manama. In the recent times, these two nations have worked very closely in addressing some of the regional issues that affect their countries either directly or indirectly. During the Arab spring in Libya in 2011, both countries supported the no-fly-zone policy over the skies of Libya. This was seen as a direct support for the ouster of Libyan strongman, Muhamar Gaddafi. When Saudi Arabia closed its embassies in Iran due to escalating political tensions, Bahrain was one of the first countries to sever their relationship with Iran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia. UAE followed suit soon after by downgrading its diplomatic ties with Iran. The two countries have supported restoration of democracy in Yemen following the ouster of then President Abdullah Ali Saleh.

The Kingdom of Bahrain

Bahrain is an arid archipelago that is situated the Middle East’s Western Shores of Persian Gulf. Bahrain island- which measures about 18 km wide and 55 km long- is the largest mass of land within this country. The country has a population of about 1,234,571 people, out of which over half are expatriates who have come to work in various industries. On its western border is Saudi Arabia while Iran is to its north. It also shares its South Eastern border with Qatar. Manama is the country’s largest city, which is also the capital. According to Alua, Bahrain declared its independence from British rule in 1971(52). Soon after independence, there were plans to unite Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates to form a unitary government, but lack of proper structures and systems, and the differences among the leaders about the new nation that was to be created out of the unification forced them to avoid forming a unitary government. Since gaining independence, Bahrain has maintained very close international relations with the regional and international community.

Bahrain’s relations with the world

According to Peck, the Kingdom of Bahrain has maintained close ties with the international community to strengthen the country’s economy and to ensure that its borders are protected from any form of international relations (12). Since independence, the country has established bilateral relations with over 190 countries across the world (Colombo 48). It is a member of the United Nations, Arab League, and Gulf Cooperation Council. In the International arena, Bahrain has close relations with the West, although it has not had any tense relationship with the East. United States is one of the closest international allies of this country. Bahrain has an embassy in the United States, and the United States has its own embassy in Manama, Bahrain’s capital city. The United States and France remains Bahrain’s primary supplier of war artilleries. Bahrain has also maintained close diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom since it gained its independence. Most of the elite soldiers serving in the Bahrain’s military were trained in the United Kingdom. United Kingdom’s Royal Army currently has its Middle Eastern command stationed in Bahrain, an indication that the two countries have very close diplomatic ties.

Bahrain’s relations with MENA countries

Bahrain’s relatively small size has made it maintain very close relations with the regional MENA countries to enable it strengthen its economy and secure its borders. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains Bahrain’s closest ally in this region. The two countries have worked very closely as they strive to achieve common socio-economic and political goals. When the Arab Spring, which had affected several MENA countries, hit the country, it was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that came to the military aid of Bahrain’s government by quelling the riots. In 1981, rebel groups funded and trained by the Iranian government made an attempted coup, but it was thwarted by a combined force of Bahrain-Saudi military forces. Since then, the Iran-Bahrain relations have remained cold. In 2015, when Saudi Arabia announced that it was severing its relations with Iran, Bahrain was one of the first countries to close its embassies in Iran as a sign of solidarity with its close ally, Saudi Arabia. The country has also maintained close relations with other regional countries such as Palestine, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan.

Bahrain’s relations with United Arab Emirates

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have close past relations that dates back to pre-independence era. Although they were considered two different colonial territories by the British government, the leaders of the two countries felt that Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain could be united to form one nation soon after independence. The desired unity was not achieved because of a number of reasons. However, the three countries maintained close relations. Bahrain considers United Arab Emirates as one of its closest allies in this region. They both share a number of foreign policies that guide how they relate to the international community. They also have close business ties, especially because of strategic positions of Dubai and Manama cities in international trade.

Socio-economic and Political Significance of UAE-Bahrain Relations

According to Alua, the relation between Bahrain and UAE has remained very close, and it has been characterized by social, economic, and political interests (121). The geographic relations between the two countries have made it necessary for them to have economic relations. United Arab Emirates is one of the leading trade partners of Bahrain. The United Arab Emirates, especially the city of Dubai, has been receiving tourists from Bahrain, a factor that has boosted UAE’s economy. Politically, the two countries have maintained close diplomatic ties for the last four decades. They have worked very closely to face security threats in the region, especially from terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The two countries have also been cooperating with the international community to address the issues affecting the MENA region.

Chapter summary

This chapter focused on a review of the existing literatures from various secondary sources. It focused on critically analyzing how the two countries have been relating with the international community, regional countries, and between the two of them. The chapter reveals that both countries have had foreign policies that emphasizes on lack of aggression and close socio-economic and political relations. The geographical and political nature of the two countries is some of the factors that have made it necessary for them to coordinate their activities very closely. The next chapter focuses on the methodology that was used to collect data was used in the study.

Research Methodology

This chapter focuses on the research methods used to collect information in this study. According to Burns, an effective research project must have a clear methodology that guides in the entire process of planning, actual collection of data, review of the collected data, and finally its analysis (56). To investigate the past, present, and future economic, social, and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the researcher came up with appropriate methodology to help in the entire process.

Research design

In social sciences, one has to be careful when choosing an appropriate research design. The choice of research design is basically defined by the nature of study being conducted. It may be necessary to either use qualitative or quantitative research. Quantitative studies are important when there is need to conduct empirical studies that involve numerical calculations. That was not necessary in this study. Investigating the socio-economic and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain needs a qualitative research study. Qualitative research makes it possible to explain specific phenomenon and why they took place the way they did, and what can be done to promote or discourage a given trend based on its desirability. This design made it possible to have a critical review of the past, present, and future socio-economic and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Explanatory data made it possible to understand the trends taken by the two countries to strengthen their relations. Reviewing historical phenomena that defined the relations between the two countries in different days was also very important in understanding the nature of the relations.

Data collection and analysis

After identifying the appropriate research design that will be used in this study, it is easy to determine the data collection and analysis strategies that will be relevant. Data was collected from two main sources which are discussed in the subsections below.

Literature review techniques

According to Burns, research is one of the best ways of finding new knowledge that can help transform the world into a better place (43). In broad terms, there is pure science and social science research. Social science is a study based on humans as social beings. On the other hand, pure science deals with specimen in a controlled environment, especially in a laboratory. Unlike the specimen used in pure sciences that can be manipulated by putting some factors constant, it is practically impossible to put humans under any form of controlled conditions (Kumar 81). When conducting a social science, one must, therefore, devise methods that would enable him or her collect the desired data in society as it is, without manipulating any of the environmental factors in any way. Burns says that if some assumptions are made- which is often the case- a remedy must be put which will counter the assumption, or there should be an explanation on how such scenario would be if the assumption was not made, and the effects would be if assumptions are made (112).

Scholars have continuously conducted studies on various fields in order to find explanations or solutions to various socio-economic and political problems in the society. The issue if international relations have attracted attention of many scholars who are trying to understand how different nations relate and how their relationship affects them and the world at large. According to Kumar, it is academically unethical for one to reproduce a given piece of research that is already in existence (90). Such duplication of works does not add value to a given set of information. It is required that a researcher produces a piece of information that addresses the existing conflict in the existing knowledge body or comes up with new concepts. The only way of doing this is to review the existing literatures. In so doing, a researcher gets to understand what has been documented, the existing conflicts in the current information, and the gaps that needs to be addressed.

In this specific research, the focus was to investigate the past, current, and future economic, social, and political relations between United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. This is a topic that has attracted attention of many scholars, especially due to the ongoing conflicts in the Arab world. It is therefore, very likely that there exists vast knowledge in this field that should be reviewed in order to use it as a foundation for the study. That is why the researcher considered the existing bodies of knowledge as the major source of data. They played a major role in informing this study.

Questionnaire design

There were two primary methods used to collect data in this dissertation. The first one involves collection of secondary data from existing literatures, while the second one involves collection of primary data through interviews and surveys. Data collection through literature review has been discussed in the previous chapter and its importance discussed in the section above. Primary data was collected by interviewing a sample of participants who have been involved in the three aspects of UAE- Bahrain relations. They include businesspersons who have been involved in international trade between Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, diplomats of the two countries, and citizens of Bahrain living in the United Arab Emirates.

The questionnaire was developed to collect data from these three population segments in the study. The questionnaire had three main parts. The first part of the questionnaire focused on the demographic factors of the respondents. It was important to capture the views of the respondents from the two states to get to know what their views are about the relations between the two countries based on their personal experiences. After reviewing their background, the next section looked at the academic background of the respondents. According to Kumar, people with different academic backgrounds have different understandings about different issues affecting the society (91). When it comes to international relations, this is a highly specialized topic that many may not have a proper understanding of it. It is for this reason that the researcher decided to include some diplomats in this study who have a better understanding of this topic, and specifically the relationship that exists between United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. By understanding the academic background of the respondents, it was easy knowing the authority of some of their statements. Although businesspersons can easily detect if the relations between their country and another is strained, it takes an International Relations experts to know the true nature of the relationship that exists.

The last section of the questionnaire delved specifically on social, political, and economic relations of the two countries. It is easy for the respondents to know the nature of the relations between United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Those who do business can help in explaining the economic relations about the two countries. The ease- or lack of it for that matter- with which goods move from one country move to the other without unnecessary embargoes can help determine the economic relations. When it comes to social relations, the Bahrainis living in the United Arab Emirates will be interviewed to get to know about their experiences in this country and any challenges they face based on their nationality. To understand the political relations between the two countries, the diplomats will be interviewed because they have the needed knowledge about this topic.

Sampling method

As mentioned above, the researcher relied on information from secondary sources to inform this study. However, the nature of the topic meant that relying solely on secondary sources was not advisable because of the dynamism involved. The relationship between the countries can change any time based on the changing environmental factors. Sometimes the change may not be captured in the popular media as would be expected unless something extraordinary happens. Making predictions about the possible future relations also made it necessary to have an interview with experts who could have compare the past trends with the current in order to predict the future. It was, therefore, necessary to have sample respondents who had current information about the relations. The researcher did not have many options because of the difficulty in finding the right participants who had the needed information about this topic. Stratified sampling was necessary because the participants were clustered into three groups to help shed more light into the three areas of economic, social, and political relations between the two countries.

Reliability and validity of the method

According to Burns, validity means appropriateness, applicability, and truthfulness of a given study (67). It is the ability of research instruments to produce results that are in agreement with theoretical and conceptual frameworks (Kumar 112). In this research, internal validity was maintained by checking the representativeness of the sample selected. The researcher ensured that the sampled population captured all important aspects of economic, social, and political relations between the two countries. The respondents were randomly picked, without preference. Moreover, responses received from all the three categories defined in the section above were assigned weight based on the authority they had over a given issue being investigated. For instance, the diplomats were assigned more weight on issues regarding the political relations between the two countries. This helped in ensuring that data collected was not in any way, influenced by opinions of the researcher. Respondents are human beings with weaknesses when it comes to giving free views (Kumar 118). They may exaggerate or underrate issues when they make statements based on their personal feelings. The researcher found review of literature to be very important in this section because opinions that they have are already moderated.

Reliability, according to Burns, means that a given study is consistent, and lacks ambiguity (88). It is the ability to trust a study to provide information that comprehensively addresses issues at hand. Reliability is related to the accuracy of instruments used in the study, the accuracy of the measuring device in measuring that which it claims to measure. In the study, it was achieved by increasing verifiability of perspectives, and by using statistical tools to enhance reliability. The study adopted the principles of openness, coherence, and discourse to enhance reliability.

Accessibility issues

International relation is a highly specialized field of study, and finding respondents who have the needed knowledge about this research topic was not very easy. However, it was important to collect primary data even if it is from a few respondents in order to have knowledge about current trends and the changes that are taking place in the social, economic, and political spheres. The researcher was able to have access to a few individuals who have current knowledge about this relation. The respondents were also able to help in predicting the future of the two countries relations.

Ethical issues

When conducting a research, it is necessary to consider ethical concerns to ensure that the study do not negatively impact the respondents who took part in the study. International relations are a very sensitive issue, and sometimes respondents may want their identity to be revealed. This is specifically among the diplomats, some of whom stated that their position in the government do not allow them to share critical information about the relations of the two countries. The researcher ensured anonymity of the respondents by assigning them codes instead of using their real names. This meant that no one could trace them and victimize them in any way because of their views about the relations between the two countries. The respondents were assured that the information used in the study was only used for academic purposes, and no one else would be allowed to access the material except the lecturer. The researcher also steered off from any form of biasness as a way of embracing ethics in this study. Personal views of the researcher that is not supported by the findings of the study were not given any considerations.

Research limitations

It is very important for researchers to understand that their findings may be useful in various areas hence it is important for them to ensure that they clearly state the limitations of their study to inform users about its relevance (Burns 32). This helps in eliminating instances where people use the study in irrelevant contexts. It also eliminates instances where a given study is criticized unfairly because people are unable to understand how the researcher made some conclusion. In this research, data was collected from two sources. The first source was existing pieces of literatures, especially books, journal articles, and relevant reliable online sources. However, primary data was collected from a few sampled participants within United Arab Emirates. The context of the research was limited to economic, social, and political relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Chapter summary

This chapter has given a comprehensive overview of the methods that the researcher used in order to arrive at the findings. It looked at the research design and data collection strategies used in the study. The approach used in sampling the respondents is also discussed. Reliability, validity, and accessibility issues have also been reviewed in this chapter. Ethical concerns and research limitations are also critically analyzed. The chapter makes a clear definition of the issues faced when collecting data, and the appropriate method that should be taken when using the material. The next chapter focuses on the findings of this research.

Findings

In this study, the major source of information that was used to inform the study was collected from secondary sources. The researcher used books, journal articles, newspaper publications, magazines, and other reliable online sources. It is important to note that the study also needed a review of the future social, economic, and political relations between the two countries. To achieve this, it was necessary to talk with some experts who have the capacity to predict the future relationship between these two countries. That is why the researcher engaged a few experts who helped in shedding more light into this topic. Their views were integrated as part of the findings of the study. The social, economic, and political relationship of the two countries have been defined based on the past, present, and future perspectives.

Past United Arab Emirates-Kingdom of Bahrain Relations

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has a unique history that runs back to the days of independence. In order to have a deeper understanding of the past UAE- Bahrain relations, it may be necessary to look at the aspects of politics, economics, and social environment independently.

Past political relations

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have a common history given that both of them were British protectorates in the late 18th to 19th centuries. The two countries fought for the war of independence together. During the colonial era, these countries were treated as separate colonies, but coordinated very closely by one governor. When the British government finally announced its intention of withdrawing from the eastern part of Suez, the two countries entered into negotiations to have a single nation. The need to form a unitary nation was prompted by the small size of the emirates, the low population in each of them, and limited economic and military development. There was a fear that external aggressors such as Iran could attack and annex part of these newly independent countries. In what Rugh defines as Ikhtilaf, the leaders who were expected to come up with administrative structure for the unified country were unable to reach some sort of agreement (48). These countries finally agreed to be independent of each other. However, Bahrain and the UAE agreed to maintain very close political relations in order to enhance their security and growth. Their foreign policies emphasized on the need to work very closely, especially militarily due to the common threat that they faced in the name of Iran. The close political relations between these two countries have been witnessed in various forums in the past. The two countries joined GCC and UN almost at the same time to ensure that they could get assistance from the international community when necessary. The political class has been doing everything to ensure that the political relations between their countries remain closely knit. In 2011, the uprising in Bahrain blamed on reverse discrimination had to be thwarted by a unit of Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi forces. The protected class remained in power, thanks to the international intervention, and Bahrain has remained relatively peaceful since then.

Past economic relations

The economic relation between Bahrain and United Arab Emirates was motivated by the growing common interests soon after independence. During the colonial period, the natives in these regions and the settlers maintained close economic relations. When they gained independence, the two countries agreed to have close economic relations. Both countries heavily rely on the export of petroleum products to the international market. Over the past years, they have worked closely to look for better market for their products in North America, Europe, and Africa. Dubai, one of the most industrialized cities in the UAE, relies on the aluminum it imports from Bahrain to boost its industrial sector. Traditionally, the two countries have worked together to ensure that their business community can operate in the two countries without any restrictions. They abolished trade embargoes and protectionism practices between them. Traders from the two countries have been enjoying a closely knit financial market to boost their operations. The renovation of the Bahrain International Airport, the only main international airport in Bahrain, was renovated in 2007 by a leading Emirati construction firm (Gause 85). The developments of infrastructure in these countries have also made it easier for the business community to coordinate and move their goods easily.

Past social relations

According to Rugh, there are a number of factors that bring together the social environment between Bahrain and United Arab Emirates (87). Both are Islamic nations that believe in Shariah when it comes to governance and social relations. This has made it easy for citizens of the two countries to interact, especially on cultural events. The khuluq that has been upheld in Bahrain since the colonial period is not very different from the standards set in UAE. In the past, the two countries have held and celebrated various cultural events based on their religion. Celebrations such as Id festivals have been another factor that has often brought them together because of the belief of Allah as the creator. Common beliefs on issues such as jehannam has also made it easy for the citizens of the two countries to live peacefully in either of the two countries because they find themselves mingling well with the local communities. UAE was able to develop faster than Bahrain, especially in the education sector. Therefore, it has been common to find cases where Bahrainis come for their madrasah in cities such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi. In most of the cases, these students are given treatment similar to that of the Emirati nationals instead of being treated as foreigners.

Present United Arab Emirates-Kingdom of Bahrain Relations

The current relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been shaped by the past events and the current socio-economic and political forces. In this section, the researcher will look at the current political, economic, and social relations

Present political relations

According to Katzman, the close political relation between Bahrain and UAE has remained unshaken despite the political instability that has been common in the MENA region (113). News reports show that the two countries have increasingly found themselves facing common foes, making it necessary for them to coordinate very closely. The recent ambitious armament project of Iran has made most of the regional countries, especially the neighboring Bahrain and UAE, very uneasy. Bahrain severed its ties with Iran in the late 2015 and UAE followed soon after, by downgrading its diplomatic ties with Iran. Existing reports also indicate that Bahrain and UAE have been looking at common ways of dealing with the problems posed by terror groups in the region such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The recent conflict in Syria and Yemen has clearly demonstrated the current nature of political relations between Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. Both countries agreed to send their troops and fighter jets to Yemen after a wide consultation. They also agreed to send troops to Syria to help fight the ISIS and to protect innocent civilians from brutality and unfair treatment from both the rebels and government forces. In December 2015 on different dates, the two countries insisted that President Al-Assad had to hold talks with the rebels in order to stop the political unrest in the country.

Present economic relations

Dubai is presently one of the world’s leading business hub and tourists’ attraction canter. It has the most advanced infrastructural system in the region’s transport sector. Manama, Bahrain’s capital, has been borrowing the concept used in developing the city of Dubai in order to improve its own infrastructural system. The two countries still have very close economic relations, with a considerable amount of aluminum from Bahrain finding its market in UAE’s market. Expatriates from Bahrain have found the Dubai market very attractive for their business operations. Similarly, there are a number of United Arab Emirates firms which are currently operating in Bahrain, especially financial institutions and construction firms. Currently, both countries are struggling to deal with the problem of falling petroleum products in the international market through diversification. Dubai has successfully shifted its main economic activities from oil mining to service market. The authorities in Manama has been working closely with the leader of Dubai to help transform Bahrain’s economy from one that heavily rely on oil production to one that relies on service industry and other sectors. Leading electronic firms such as Apple and Samsung have been using Dubai as their regional hub from where their products are spread to Middle East and African markets. Bahrain is one of the leading markets for these electronic products coming from Dubai. Less than 2% of Bahrain’s land is arable. It has been relying on imported foodstuff, some of which come from the United Arab Emirates.

Present social relations

Bahrain and UAE share a common social structure that is closely defined by their Islamic religion. The two countries have been heavily influenced by the emerging social trends in the world that is motivated by the increased globalization. Women empowerment programs that have been witnessed in major Emirati cities have spread quickly to Bahrain as the society embrace the concept of equity. The Abu Dhabi Buzz that started in 2009 has significantly influenced the way women are now treated in Bahrain. The leaders in the two countries are opening up steadily to Affirmative Action, something that was unheard of before. Women are now finding themselves in leadership positions in various social forums as the traditional beliefs that inhibited women development get abolished. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is now very active in the two countries. The study reveals that such conventions have brought together women from both countries as they try to fight some of the common challenges that they have in common. One such problem is limited education opportunities in both countries, especially at advanced levels of education. The number of boys proceeding to tertiary education is higher than that of girls because of issues such as early marriage, a practice that is common in Bahrain as well as UAE. Regional women forums working in the two countries have ambitious programs meant to push government to ensure that the girl-child is also educated.

Future United Arab Emirates-Kingdom of Bahrain Relations

The UAE-Bahrain relations, as has been discussed, dates back to pre-independence period. The two countries will still find their close relations very important to them given that they still have a number of factors that affect them in equal measures given their geographical closeness. A critical analysis of the past and present events can help in determining what to expect in the near future. In this section, the focus will be to determine the future relations of the two countries based on the data collected from both primary and secondary sources.

Future political relations

The future political relations between Bahrain and UAE will likely remain unchanged given the common interests of the two nations. The two countries will still need to join hands and be ready to face regional threats such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, and unfriendly regimes such as that of Iran. As long as these common threats continue to exist, it is likely that the relations will remain unchanged. However, there is a common view that the future relations between the two countries may be influenced by a possible change in leadership. The Arab Spring that has affected many MENA countries may not spare either of the countries. When these two countries are forced to embrace democratic rule as has been witnessed in other countries, then political interests may change, and this may redefine their relations. Based on the past and present trends in political relations, it is unlikely that the relations between the two countries can turn sour. However, it is important to note that they are not prone to the political anarchy witnessed in some of the regional countries.

Future economic relations

The future economic relations between the two countries is expected to be even closer as they both try to move away from heavy dependency on oil-related products as the main economic activities. The two countries are already working closely to boost regional tourism and this is expected to continue even in the future. The two countries’ financial sector are also more likely to undertake common projects as they try to develop a common regional financial system that can meet the demands of the local and regional business community. This means that it will be easier in the future than it is today, for Emirati business entities to access loans in Bahrain and vice versa. Recent reports show that the two countries have already started projects meant to boost their agricultural production using modern technologies. It is expected that they will work together even in the future to develop this sector and reduce overreliance on imported food products.

Future social relations

The social environment between the two countries is expected to change given the developments witnessed in the recent past. One area that this change is expected is women empowerment. Various organizations in the two countries have been working very closely to ensure that women are given opportunity to develop. It is expected that in the near future, these organizations will become more integrated into the societal fabric of the two countries. More women are expected to get to leadership positions and transform the two societies from a highly patriarchal system that it is today, to a more accommodating system for women.

Conclusion

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have had historical relations long before they gained independence. An analysis of their relations reveal that the founding leaders of both countries had a vision of forming one nation that was to bring together the present day Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain as one nation. However, lack of administrative agreement among the leaders forced them to form independent states. Soon after gaining independence, these two countries established very close ties to ensure that they achieved economic benefit and protected their borders from potential external aggressors such as Iran. They also shared a common social system, especially because of the common dominant religious practices. The close ties in the economic, social, and political spheres have been maintained to present day. This trend shows that this close relation is likely to stay for the next several years. The strong wave of Arab spring may change the leadership systems in the two countries, but their close ties are expected to remain unaffected.

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