The United Arab Emirates’ Public Policy

Introduction

Every country focuses on the formulation of public policies that lead to the realization of the projected developments. The state takes measures to ensure the achievement of these goals to promote the economy. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an alliance of seven states. A ruler heads each emirate. Being the pioneer cosmopolitan business hub and open economy in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has realized significant developments in the past four decades. This advancement can be attributed to the administration department that has been conscious of constant development. Currently, tremendous developments are taking place in the United Arab Emirates. After the formation of the United Arab Emirates, major departments such as foreign affairs, defense and security, and social services were merged to ease the formulation of public policies. This essay provides an analysis of the public policy formulation in the United Arab Emirates.

The milestone developments in the United Arab Emirates over forty-two years can be summed up as follows

  • In 1973, the health sector saw the creation of the Department of Health and Medical Services (DHMS). The driving force for its creation was the fact that it was seen as a pre-requisite to a healthy country and national development. In the same year, the United Arab Emirates currency board was started.
  • In 1975, the United Arab Emirates had its first cement plant launched. The Sharjah International Airport, which was completed at the same time, was also commissioned to start operations. The United Arab Emirates was revolutionizing very fast. As a result, many industries sprouted. This situation led to the enactment of the higher environmental council to check and control the pollution of the environment.
  • In 1976, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Emirates STelecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) were established. In addition, the Sharjah Ports Authority and the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport were built.
  • In 1977, the United Arab Emirates University and Abu Dhabi investment company were inaugurated to improve the economic knowledge base. The Arab Monetary Fund with its headquarters in Abu Dhabi was founded to provide loans to its members.
  • The ADNOC Technical Institute was established in 1978. Its establishment followed the increasing need for industrial knowledge and skills owing to the forecasted demand for the workforce in the country.
  • In 1979, the Dubai Aluminium Company (DAC) initiated its operations.
  • The increasing number of transactions owing to the growing economy led to the establishment of the United Arab Emirates Central Bank in 1980. The banking facility was meant for controlling the monetary policies in the country. It regulated the currency against depreciation.
  • The United Arab Emirates in association with other countries in the Arab region established the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981. This collaboration was meant for easing trade among the members in the Arabian Gulf.
  • In 1982, the Abu Dhabi International Airport was launched.
  • The Dubai Hospital was established in 1983 to address the health needs of the citizens. In the same year, the government initiated the Emirates Institution for Banking and Financial Studies.
  • The International Petroleum Investment Company was started in 1984
  • In 1985, the Emirates Airline, Jebel Ali Free Zone, and Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi were instituted.
  • 1986 saw the launching of the Al Wasl Hospital in Dubai. Health was identified as a pre-requisite to the development of the region.
  • In 1987, the Fujairah International Airport started its operations. At the same time, the Fujairah Free Zones (FFZ) was established. This situation created a great framework for the international travel. The infrastructure that was in place was deemed favorable for the tourism industry in the country.
  • The inception of the Higher Colleges of Technology in 1988 was a milestone towards inculcating the technical skills in the population of the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Dubai Airshow was commissioned in 1989.
  • In 1990, the National Blood Transfusion Authority (NBTA) was started to help in raising the life expectancy rates of the population.
  • In 1991, the Emirates Aviation College (EAC) and the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) were started.
  • The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) started in 1992 owing to the urge to control the use of natural resources in the region. The United Arab Emirates Offsets Group was also started at the same time.
  • In 1994, the Sharia Courts were established throughout the United Arab Emirates. They were made to try cases regarding theft and adultery (Davidson, 2005).
  • The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) was initiated in 1996 to provide the necessary guidance to the aviation industry.
  • Dubai Internet City (DIC) opened in 2000. It was strategically placed in Dubai as an e-commerce hub to attract multinational firms. In the same year, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADSE) and the Dubai Financial Markets were set up. The two were electronically linked in 2004 to provide better services.
  • In 2001, the postal sector underwent a milestone transformation with the establishment of the Emirates Postal Corporation. This step helped people to communicate and send documents using the postal addresses. To enlighten the people on the issues relating to the petroleum and petrol products, the Petroleum Institute was started in 2001. The use and application of petroleum must be taught to people to ensure the proper management of the scarce resources.
  • In 2003, Etihad Airways was launched. In the same year, the Knowledge Village, based in Dubai Internet City, brought the global academic institutions to one place. In the educational scene, this year saw the opening of the Abu Dhabi University to enlighten the population on various social, economic, and academic issues among others. The government is aware of the contribution of a literate society to the national development.
  • Due to increased local, regional, and global transactions in the United Arab Emirates, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) was launched in 2004 to oversee the functions of the telecommunications department in the country. In addition, the Dubai International Centres and Abu Dhabi higher corporation for specialized economic zones were established with a view of creating avenues for more global business opportunities.
  • The Emirates Company for Integrated Telecommunications was launched in 2005. The need to promote the tourism and hospitality sector in the United Arab Emirates saw the creation of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). The Abu Dhabi Energy Company was also established to regulate the generation and distribution of electricity. These events have had a tremendous impact on the advancement and development of the United Arab Emirates.
  • In 2006, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, RAK Airways, and Abu Dhabi Airports Companies were established. Furthermore, the Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company was incepted. With a literate society, it becomes vital to managing the available human resources for improved productivity. As a result, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority was started to create awareness of the importance of literacy in the United Arab Emirates community.
  • In 2007, the Abu Dhabi Planning Council was inaugurated to oversee the organization of the urban areas in the country. Research is a valuable tool in development. Researchers contribute a great deal in terms of innovations and discoveries.
  • In 2008, the Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030 was launched to guide the appropriate steps to achieve the economic objectives by 2030.
  • In 2010, the Dubai Healthcare City was founded. It brought the international health care to unite the former Arab Emirates. Besides, the Al Maktoum International Airport was launched in the same year. It provided worldwide flights thereby easing the movement of both international and local travelers.

Developments witnessed in the United Arab Emirates

The developments witnessed in the United Arab Emirates can be attributed to the steps taken by the government since the attainment of independence from Britain in 1971 (Davidson, 2005). All the seven Emirates have developed together at a greater pace than most developing countries in the world today. This situation is ascribed to several factors discussed below.

Political Stability

Political stability is a core aspect that determines the rate of investment in any country. Kraft and Furlong (2012) attest that investors can only venture in stable political environments. Since independence, the seven Emirates have enjoyed political sobriety that catalyzes the development in the country. Foreign investors find a haven of peace as suitable destinations to make investments. According to Davidson (2005), the United Arab Emirates has a reputable history in the maintenance of human rights that has promoted the social stability and elimination of social unrest in the country. Today, the United Arab Emirates is one of the most interlinked countries in the Middle East.

Huge Oil Resources

According to Mansour (2010), the United Arab Emirates has abundant natural resources. Revenues reaped from the sale of these resources have boosted the development agendas. With high salaries for the working class, more savings and subsequently high rates of investments will take effect. As a result, the living standard and standard of social services rise. This set of circumstances will promote the advanced education and administration of healthcare in the country. A healthy nation can divert the resources of time and money to development (Kraft & Furlong, 2012).

Education

The United Arab Emirates federation highly regards quality education. The government offers open and free educational opportunities to all its citizens. Mansour (2010) reveals that the literacy level in the United Arab Emirates has significantly improved since 2007. This situation has increased the number of people who can read and write from 53% to approximately 90%. According to Kraft and Furlong (2012), the correlation between education and income cannot be underestimated. It is through education that people learn the art of saving and investment. It is evident that the commitments of the United Arab Emirates in the providence of quality education geared towards development. Mansour (2010) affirms that the private schools in the United Arab Emirates perform better as compared to the public education centers. This situation can be attributed to the difference in student-teacher ratios between the private and government schools. In a report that was published in 2010, the average student-teacher ratio stood at 16.83.

International Relations

The tremendous industrialization and development in the United Arab Emirates have resulted from its cooperation with other countries in the Middle East. This situation has created various trading federations by signing the multilateral trade agreements (Kraft & Furlong, 2012).

The United Arab Emirates Government Structure

The government structure of the United Arab Emirates can be broken down into three branches listed below.

  1. Legislature
  2. The executive
  3. Judiciary

The Executive

The Supreme Council of Rulers (SCR) governs the United Arab Emirates. It is the highest federal authority, decision, and policymaker in the country. It has representatives from the seven countries whose primary roles include the management of the nation. One of the seven agents from the Emirates becomes the president to govern the Abu Dhabi while the vice president rules Dubai (Kraft & Furlong, 2012). The composition of the executive is supplemented by the Council of Ministers that includes the presidential appointees. Their primary duties are to oversee the expansion and execution of federal policy across all the assortments of administration (Kraft & Furlong, 2012).

Legislature

The legislature is a body of forty appointed representatives. Their duties are consultative unlike in other government structures. They are not mandated to make laws but rather examine and amend proposed legislation. They are also expected to provide advice to the cabinet, review the draft annual budget, and debate on international treaties and agreements. They also oversee and question ministers on integrity and accountability (Kraft & Furlong, 2012).

Judiciary

This branch of government is tasked with the implementation of laws passed in the United Arab Emirates. In this case, there exists a dual system of sharia courts with an Islamic background and application. Others include the Federal Supreme Courts found in each of the Emirates and the premier court (Court of Cassation). The United Arab Emirates also uses both provincial and local administrations to serve the lower governmental roles. The local departments carry out administrative duties (Kraft & Furlong, 2012)

Policy Formulation in the United Arab Emirates

According to Kraft and Furlong (2012), policy development is a process that aims at reducing the challenges facing a country. Issues that are addressed in policy formation range from economic, social, and political crisis to international relations. Policy formulation in the United Arab Emirates can emerge from both the formal and informal sectors. Kraft and Furlong (2012) reveal that the formulation of policies in the United Arab Emirates aims at the improvement of both internal and external social, political, and economic dealings. Indeed, this viewpoint likens the policy formulation process to that of many other countries worldwide. The following processes represent the official sector.

The Legislative Process

The Cabinet, Federal National Council, Executive arm of the government, and Supreme Council carry out policy formulation. According to Davidson (2005), the Supreme Council initiates the policy review and approval. The cabinet is charged with the responsibility to draft and forward the laws to the Federal National Council for action before they are presented to the president. This step involves the review and formulation of recommendations. The involvement of the Federal National Council in the legislative process ensures the representation of the citizens during the policy formulation. The council also bears the mandate to question the deeds of the ministers concerning the constitution.

Policymaking Process at the Federal Level
Figure 1: Policymaking Process at the Federal Level

Presidential Decrees

The president of the United Arab Emirates can also declare the statement to become a law. In this case, the president’s decision on an issue is final (Okoth, 2015). The president exercises the executive powers to declare and proclaim the law. In instances where there is a possibility of defeat in the legal process, the president invokes powers to make and enact policies. Although various political, social, and/or economic aspects guide the move, the application of the decrees falls on the existing constitution (Okoth, 2015).

Contribution of the Informal Sector in Policy Formulation

The informal sector also has an input to this process. It involves the incorporation of the public in discussions regarding the government’s website (Okoth, 2015). For instance, the Majlis provides a platform through which the rulers meet citizens. In their decisions, the sheiks apply the views of ordinary citizens. The interests of the leaders mostly subdue this sector.

Reasons for changing some of the Positions

In the process of policy formulation, the function of the Federal National Council of reviewing is not appropriate. Initially, it was meant to provide a platform for ordinary citizens to raise their views regarding issues that affected them. According to Davidson (2005), the Federal National Council was intended to make possible public debates and participation in the process. Reviewing the policy first and then sending it to the President and advisors for review is a duplication of a task that should be avoided as it wastes both time and money.

Major Successes and Challenges

The policy formulation exercise in the United Arab Emirates has transformed the livelihoods of the citizens. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the initiator of the United Arab Emirates, has come across various achievements and downsides.

Electronic Governance for Good Governance

Through the policies initiated and passed through this process, the founder is accredited for starting the e-governance platform that provides channels for community participation. In this case, the public develops views concerning issues that affect them. Being part of the decision-making team also gives useful insights to the public to completely own up the project. According to Mansour (2010), the e-government refers to the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to provide electronic transactions for the citizens, businesses, and government. This state of affairs can be achieved through the formulation of policies regarding the taxes levied or other service deliveries. As a result, the United Arab Emirates initiated the General Information Authority to monitor these communications.

Privatization for Quality Service Delivery

Mansour (2010) reveals that the privatization for quality service delivery rewarded the founder of the United Arab Emirates with high-quality service delivery to the citizens. The thorough process in the formation and implementation of laws is the instrumental service delivery. The advantage to the citizens cannot be underestimated. According to Mansour (2010) ascertains that the aim is to provide a broad array of free social amenities to the citizens through privatization.

Ignition of excellence

The system the founder applied paid him off with resources to transform the seven Emirates. The government was able to transmute the northern part of the United Arab Emirates, which was a desert, in four decades. Mansour (2010) affirms that the drive stimulated competition geared towards excellence.

Private-public partnership

Another milestone achievement is the development of a lasting partnership between the public and private entities. Mansour (2010) identifies that in the United Arab Emirates, there exist many public-private partnerships in sectors such as cleaning, transport, maintenance, and sewerage. In its operations, the government tried to make legislation that favored the interactions between the two sectors. However, this environment, regarding international partnership is limited by the control of foreign ownership rights (Mansour, 2010). Although the process was very disadvantageous, it had some flaws that hindered the full application of the process.

Lack of Resources

The availability and ease of usage of resources proved a challenge to the founder. For instance, the northern part of the seven Emirates was arid and could not compete fairly with the others.

Difficulty in mastering English

There arose the problem in which the majority of the citizens could not learn the English language. As a result, it became hard to engage the students in the international exchange programs. This situation was also a major obstacle to multilateral trade. According to Davidson (2005), the failure to understand the English language was a drawback to enhancing partnerships.

Lack of Harmony and Comprehensiveness

The system required the incorporation of both macro and micro aspects. Mansour (2010) reveals that there was no coordination at the national level. This situation denied the citizens a chance for airing their issues to the executives. These factors overshadowed the most important aspect of the public participation.

Important Lessons that the Current Government can learn from the administration

There are lessons the government should learn from this administration. First, the issue of public participation in policy formulation is an exercise any government should apply. The contribution of the public will go a long way in guaranteeing success to the government in terms of service delivery and good governance. Following the rule of law also is depicted as a talking point for the government of the day. Instituting policies that are against the wish of the masses will lead to social unrest and possibly disrupt the development agenda already put in place (Mansour, 2010).

Secondly, the government ought to realize the requirements for development. With the structures in place, the engine of growth is up and moving. Particular attention should be focused on both the health and education sectors to maintain a healthy society and inculcate useful skills needed for discovery and innovation (Mansour, 2010).

In conclusion, transformation and advancement have been witnessed in the United Arab Emirates in the past four decades. This development has been the dream of many developing countries, especially in Africa. Nonetheless, such countries cannot match the development pace of the United Arab Emirates due to its abundance of natural oil and gas products. Various researchers have attested that the availability of such resources has significantly boosted the United Arab Emirates economy.

Reference List

Davidson, C. (2005). The United Arab Emirates: A study in survival. Boulder, CO: Lynne

Kraft, M., & Furlong, S. (2012). Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Mansour, A. (2010). The Style of Decision-Making in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Budgetary Process. Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management, 22(3), 284-292.

Okoth, S. (2015). Public Administration and Policy in Middle East. New York, NY: Springer. Reinner Publishers.