GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Gender and Transitional Rentierism in the UAE
Paper Proposal Text :
The political sociology of contemporary Arab Gulf States has undergone a transformation with recent “Arab Spring movements”, and internal dynamics such as localization of labour force which posit a need to revisit the classical analysis of a rentier state. This paper emphasises the degree to which rentierism is affected by access to education and globalizing forces. The classical rentier state theory does not capture the need for women as vital human capital nor does it take into account women as active agents of change. Thus, there is a need for a new form of rentierism to understand gender in the United Arab Emirates. The claims of these theoretical approaches will be examined in the context of empirical research conducted with 40 Emirati students and 40 Emirati employees in the banking sector in the UAE. The goals of this study are to identify the career aspirations of young Emirati students towards job sector preference, women’s employment access to public and private sector. In building a sustainable transitional rentier state theory, the findings of the empirical research will show that Emirati participants perceive a focus on women’s participation in the workforce, job sector preference and a more cohesive Emiratisation policy as pivotal to the country’s economic diversification.
In the classic rentier state, rent provided the state with an extremely large and powerful economic and social role that has fostered the long term stability of the ruling regimes and has allowed it to survive internal as well as external crises (Anderson 1987; Ayubi 2001; Karl 2007; Omgba 2009). One might underline that the effects of social pressures and class interests on the state were present in classical rentier state theory and remain a challenge in today’s current environment.
There is a great deal of diversity among women in the Middle East. To assess women’s impact in the workforce of the UAE, the gender framework should encompass variables such as government, diversity among women and modernization (Krause, 2008).There is a need to re-evaluate women’s impact on power relations and explore forms of agency that enable women’s contribution in politics, economy and civil society. The classical understanding of an Arab Gulf State is that of an oil rich country largely reliant on income generated by oil exports. The wealth is accumulated in the hands of the ruling family and trickled down to the citizens through welfare benefits, free education, health care and electricity, and a guaranteed job in the public sector.
What is meant by a transitional rentier state? What is the relationship between state, civil society and women’s participation in the labour force? The shift in the country’s investment towards education, and leadership programmes, demonstrates the state’s departure from traditional investment in crude oil and energy sectors. This attempt at diversifying the investment in Emirati human capital shows that classical rentier theory focusing on oil and energy to characterize a state lacks the coherence and complexity to reflect the current reality.