The UAE has become a prominent and powerful country in the Middle East. Its political, economic, and military statuses are above many other countries in the region. Delgado (2016) argues that the UAE is quickly overtaking Saudi Arabia as the region’s most powerful force. The country’s history, politics, culture, and economics have contributed to its rise and development. According to Delgado (2016), one of the things that gave the UAE so much dominance in the last several decades is its ability to interact well with other nations and states.
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A large aspect of its success can be attributed to how the country positions and presents itself in the global arena to investors and strategic partnerships. Thus, one can argue that public relations are a key element in the strategic positioning of the UAE on both the regional and global platforms. The country has not only been able to tell the world of its ability to overcome economic and political challenges, but it has also proven it. Rahman (2018) argues that the best kind of public relations is one that can be proven.
It is important to note that whereas countries can build their reputation using good PR, they can also destroy the same reputation using poor public relations. There are countries that have suffered immensely due to poor public relations. Rahman (2018) argues that the negative public image is tied to cultural, political, military, or economic decisions made by the government. It has become prudent for companies, in this case, countries, to fully and adequately manage their public relations. Importantly, countries’ public relations strategy should not only target foreign entities. It should also target internal audiences.
Indeed, one can argue that the UAE’s success has partly been due to the fact that many of its citizens also believe in the country’s potential. Thus, the citizens are also motivated by the country’s public relations strategy. This report seeks to examine the socio-cultural, economic, and political characteristics that the UAE possesses and how it uses these factors to build its public relations. Arguments made in the essay will support the premise that public relations are equally important in the strategic positioning of countries on both the global and regional levels.
The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven cities, referred to as “emirates”. The seven emirates are Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm Al-Qaiwain. The most common emirates are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Before the seven emirates were united, the region had two predominant cultures. One culture was made up of the nomadic desert people, who practiced oasis farming.
This group was widely diverse in regards to desert economics and culture. The other culture revolved around the “sea people”, who, as the name suggests, molded their culture around water. This second group practiced sea trading. One can argue that it is the fact that both groups were highly experienced in trade and economics that laid foundations for the current economic prowess of the region.
The UAE society is deeply rooted in Arabic and Islamic traditions, encompassing many principles in the country’s commitment to tolerance and hospitality (Abu Dhabi, n.d.). The UAE consists of diverse influences of Persian and Arabian cultures. Values such as truth, ethics, and sincerity are strongly supported. The UAE society is one that is multicultural and welcomes new expatriates and inputs while attempting to seek out their own identity.
Arabic is the common language of use in the region. However, the country uses English as its commerce language. The country joins others in the region in symbolizing unity and peace during their National Day. Interestingly, the country also shares the same national colors as other countries in the region. Overall, the regional colors are green, red, white, and black.
The UAE is considered a sparsely populated country based on its population and geographical size (Ashour & Fatima, 2016). The demographic rate is male-dominated, with the male population of 3 million exceeding the female population of 1.4 million. The core UAE nationals comprise approximately 20 percent of the population. The rests are expatriates and foreign workers. South Asians comprise 60 percent of that population, while the rest are from other Arabic countries in the region (Library of Congress, 2007).
The literacy level in the country stands at 91 percent. The government devotes a quarter of its budget to education, financing individuals at the university educational level. Previously, education was focused mainly on men. However, some attempts have been made to provide women with equal opportunities to study. The efforts that have been made have ensured that currently there are more women in higher institutions of learning than men (Ashour & Fatima, 2016). Despite this, the country still struggles with offering equal opportunities for employment for both genders. Sherif (2013) confirms that the male employment rate is five times higher than that of women.
The diverse population of the UAE has led to the integration and realization of new interests. As a country, the UAE is widely interested in economic development. Malek (2016) explains that the country has taken strides and to some extent can be described as an architectural haven. The country is not only interested in building unique buildings but also puts efforts into the creation of groundbreaking innovations and technologies in the architectural field.
Since the desert covers a large part of the country, much of the development is focused on the coastal regions. The country’s passion for architecture has made Abu Dhabi to be ranked as one of the most developed cities in the world.
Due to accusations of causing global warming, the country has also been actively involved in environmental conservation. For example, Abu Dhabi has taken lead in ensuring environmental conservation through the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 (Kiani, 2017). The city’s main concern is on ensuring that the fast pacing urbanization does not interfere with the environment. To achieve this, the country has developed appropriate policies. Bodies such as Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) have been efficient in developing and implementing such policies (Kiani, 2017).
There has been a growing affection for arts as well. For example, Sharjah is well known for supporting culture through arts. Students in school learn about the country’s culture and that of other countries all over the world (Kiani, 2017). Due to the city’s focus on cultural promotion through arts, it was declared the Arab Cultural Capital by UNESCO in the last 1990s (Kiani, 2017). Additionally, the country has positively supported literature and performing arts.
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The social religion of the UAE is Islam, encompassing the majority of the population. Although freedom of religion is allowed, Islam remains the official religion that is integrated into both law and traditions. Mosques serve as community centers during Islamic holidays such as Ramadan are national celebrations. Religion guides the country’s culture and lifestyle, entertainment, dress code (women must cover head), food (meat is halal), and social interactions such as marriage (ExpatFocus, n.d.). One of the most common religious activities in the region is the daily five prayers. This ensures that Muslims will at different times of the day excuse themselves from classes, offices, and other activities and facilities to conduct their prayers.
It is important to note that a majority of the Muslims in the region are subscribed to Sunni Islam. Hashemi (2013) explains that the population is mainly friendly as it is based on Sharia Law and cultural beliefs are strongly founded on Islamic teachings. Additionally, they are very tolerant towards other religions and cultures. One can argue that it is this tolerance that has allowed diversity, in regards to religion and culture, to grow in the region.
There are churches and other religious buildings within the cities. One can argue that good public relations resulted in visitors’ investment in the UAE as their beliefs are tolerated in the country. The UAE has used PR to reach out to religious groups and assure that no Islamic teachings will be imposed on them and that they are also free to worship according to their believes despite being in an Islamic state.
Main societal concerns
There are various societal concerns that have emerged over the years. One such concern is cultural loss. The UAE citizens only comprise 11% of the 8 million population. Fanack (2018) argues that there have been concerns that the massive influx of immigrants will dilute the culture of the country. However, several factors have ensured that a large part of the UAE culture has been retained. One factor is a strong leadership structure.
The Kings that have served as leaders have been careful to not only attract tourists and investors to their country but also to ensure locals can practice their culture and traditions without judgment and interference. One way the government of the region has done this is through clear stratification of the population. For instance, in the business district, foreign investors have special areas where they can live and set up their shops. In these areas, they are allowed to practice the various lifestyles they normally enjoy at home.
As stated, there have also been concerns over the environment. These concerns have been closely connected to health issues. To address widespread national health concerns, the government has been actively promoting health and active lifestyles amongst the population. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, n.d.). A wide range of issues concerns UAE society. Obesity is a large health problem, and drug abuse rates are growing rapidly, causing significant long-term population health problems.
The demographic misbalance in regard to gender proportions as well as the number of foreigners in comparison to nationals is worrying, resulting in cultural tensions and racial discrimination. Other issues include human rights abuses as the law is potentially misused to benefit those in power.
Many people in the UAE have also raised concerns over issues of gender equality. Whereas the UAE has taken more and better strides towards achieving gender equality, it is still considered one of the worst places for women. Hodgson (2014) argues that the influx of different cultures and people has led to the realization that gender equality is attainable. Currently, the main concern in regards to gender equality is how to get more women hired into corporate positions. As stated, there are more educated (higher education level) women in the country than men. This should translate to having more women in both government and corporates.
One can argue that the UAE society has a friendly personality. Generally, the UAE society is open to guests. As mentioned, a majority of the country’s population is comprised of foreigners. The government has attracted many foreigners to conduct businesses in the area. This means that the government has also created a viable and friendly business environment for investors. It seeks to attract tourism and commercial activity to the country. The character of the UAE can be described as high-class and luxurious in both business and entertainment spheres. Society prioritizes growth and development. Everyone works hard for the opportunities which the economy provides. The UAE nationals are proud of their country and heavily embrace the responsibilities of being citizens of the country (Hashemi, 2013).
Indeed, the UAE society’s personality is considered to be spiritual. Each aspect of the community is guided by Islamic teachings. The community uses Sharia Law as its legal framework. The impact of Islam on society’s personality is well pronounced. For example, women are deemed very valuable, and men have to protect them at all times. Previously, the aspect of having a male companion was used to degrade women. However, as Hodgson (2014) notes, at present time, women in the UAE prefer the company as long as it does not lead to control over them and their choices.
The UAE society also has an accommodative personality. Accommodative in this sense refers to the ability to welcome and live along with people or cultures of different traditions. A large number of foreigners in the country testifies to the nation’s ability to accommodate and tolerate others. It is important to point out that there are some cities that are not considered accommodative to others. Hodgson (2014) explains that exposure has played a key role in making some places within the UAE more accommodative than others. Therefore, one can argue that the UAE PR has focused on some of its regions compared to others.
There are many reasons for the present situation. One is that the regions PR has focused on are more accessible and more developed than others. Secondly, these regions could have more opportunities to be offered to investors than others. One can also argue that the poor PR in these regions has led to low development. Therefore, more inequalities and similar concerns still predominate in such areas.
Internally, the UAE is highly integrated, serving as a model country. This comparison is made with other Arab nations in the peninsula. With regards to social integration, many communities have been formed and are highly respected in major parts of the UAE. Additionally, the foreign communities have been made so comfortable in the Arab land that they have invested in the cities. In fact, it is this particular reason that has made some of the cities in the UAE develop so much. As stated, issues of gender inequality are rampant in the Arabian Peninsula. Many critics have blamed Islam and Sharia Law for the demeaning of women in society.
However, the UAE has proven that Islam does not in any way undermine women based on their gender. It has many female politicians and has made policies to ensure that women’s rights are upheld.
Still, on social integration, marriage bonds are stable as the government supports families through funding. The family is central to the culture, based in Islam as the UAE nationals often have ruling dynasties. A major concern is that expatriates and UAE citizens rarely integrate (Sabry, 2014). The stated marriage bonds last for years. Indeed, there are some people who have been forced into arranged marriages just to protect family ties. Due to this, it is very difficult for foreigners to become part of the UAE families. Thus, towards this end, one can argue that there is low integration of the general community.
All major cities within the UAE are connected by modern multi-way motorways. Meanwhile, the internal city transportation infrastructure is well-developed. It is very easy for people to move from one emirate to another. The majority of the population prefers to use taxis even though there are many buses that operate in the area as well. Using proper public relations strategies, the UAE has ensured people around the world know that their taxi services are not only the best but also the most affordable. The taxis are regulated by the government and have a fare meter so that people are not overcharged. Dubai also has a metro system as a second option for public transport.
Presentation to foreigners
The UAE is presented to foreigners in different ways. First, it has been presented as the ultimate tourist destination site. The skyscrapers and beautiful architectural designs have been used to attract tourists from all over the world. Additionally, the country has sold itself to the world as a haven for both backpackers and luxurious tourists. There are affordable hotels for those who do not want to use much money in the country. Additionally, there are highly luxurious hotels for people that have the money to afford them. The country has also turned the desert into a revenue platform as they offer tourists adventurous desert safaris. It is important to note that, through persistent and good public relations, the country has also made itself safe for any type of people and cultures looking to tour different parts of the world.
The UAE is also presented to foreigners as a place of opportunity offering educational, professional, and even personal growth in the strong and stable economy of the Middle East. The fact that it has opened up to the world and attracted different people to its cities has ensured that it is viewed as a place of opportunity. Investors not only target the 11% original population of the country but also the 88% of foreigners that either work or live in the different cities. Multinational companies that have opened branches in the country have mainly done this to cater to foreigners. The country has good schools that offer competitive degrees as well. The additional fact that it is an oil-producing company has ensured that many people looking to get into that line of work also enroll in their schools where they teach such subjects.
Meanwhile, the same country has been described as a good place for growth for low-level workers as it provides the possibility of labor with decent employment and salary. Many low-income and casual laborers from Africa and Asia have been incorporated into the UAE as employees. They work in restaurants, malls, call centers, and even homes. The country portrays itself as a diverse, rapidly developing, and progressive nation in the Middle East.
Effects of the UAE’s Cultural Standing on its PR
Several things can be mentioned in regards to the UAE’s cultural standing and its impact on PR. One, the country has used PR to disprove the fact that it is mainly an Islamic nation by encouraging different cultures and religions to its borders. Initially, people would not go to the UAE due to the fact that it was associated with strict Islamic rules. The country had the same cultural standing as its neighbor Saudi Arabia, which is seen as a highly conservative country. However, the inclusion of other people and religions has ensured that the UAE is now perceived to be a diverse and safe place to invest, work, and visit.
Additionally, the country’s cultural standing has positively affected its public relations due to its personality. As stated, the country is perceived as friendly and has good social integration. The friendly nature of the people has been communicated all over the world through advertising and reviews from people who have lived, worked, or visited the place. It is common to find that both tourists and investors consider the country to be a comfortable second home. They understand that there are laws that protect both them and the locals. Additionally, the laws ensure that they can do business safely in the country.
Also, the country’s cultural standing has affected its PR positively by suggesting it is progressive. The country, unlike its neighbors, is deemed progressive due to its willingness to achieve gender equality. As mentioned, many women take high positions both in government and in the corporate world. Also, legal measures have been taken to ensure that gender rights are not only well understood but also upheld. The progressive nature of the UAE at large has also been communicated as a way of connecting with the rest of the world.
The UAE’s Economic Position
According to Delgado (2016), the UAE has one of the fastest rising economies in the Middle East. Currently, it is ranked second with a GDP of US $400 billion (Hussain & Saaed, 2015). The region’s strong economic position has been associated with its diversity and fast-paced urbanization. The country has been under immense pressure to avoid overdependence on oil due to lowered reserves. Rahman (2018) observes that whereas oil has been the backbone of the UAE, its depletion could mean a stagnant economy in the near future. Due to this realization, the government has started looking into other revenues for funds. It is arguable that the government is looking to fully develop other sectors to both enhance their economic reach and secure the future of the country once the oil reserves run dry.
One of the revenues is tourism. As mentioned, tourism to the UAE has been widely encouraged. Hussain and Saaed (2015) explain that tourism has provided the country with revenue in two ways. Tourists spend a lot of money in different cities while at the same time also look into ways they can invest in some of the world’s most urban cities. The third source of revenue that has pushed the economy of the region forward is real estate. Apart from the fact that real estate has attracted tourists from all over the world, there are many business people that have also invested in the venture. Whereas some have bought real estate, some have leased and others rented spaces all over the country. The additional fact that the government has allowed for foreign investment in real estate has ensured that the different communities living in the country feel comfortable investing in other businesses in the region as they build their homes in the country.
The UAE’s formation
In 1971, Britain terminated any colonial links with the Arab sheikhdoms. At this point in time, there were two main sheikhdoms, Qatar and Bahrain. The newly colonized sheikhdoms wanted to become one nation, but different interests led to the two sheikhdoms prefer to remain independent. After this, the remaining seven sheikhdoms came together and formed the United Arab Emirates in 1972. Abu Dhabi became the most important city in the region due to its size and population. In fact, the first president of the UAE was the president of Abu Dhabi. The position of the president had a period of five years per term.
Over the years, through significant public relations, the country has stated that its economic prowess is enhanced by a truthful and honest nature that is dictated by its religion, Islam. Indeed, its economic transactions are guided by Sharia Law, which is founded on Islamic teachings.
Initially, the UAE was a divided country as tribes ruled their regions and engaged in merchant trade. The UAE was formed from a group of tribal sheikhdoms along the coast of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The area was eventually conquered by Great Britain and ruled from 1820 to 1968. The country was given independence and the seven Trucial Coast states united under one government and constitution. December of 1971 is recognized to be the official date of the UAE formation as a country and the signing of the constitution. A permanent constitution was signed in 1996 (BBC, 2018).
It is important to note that the different sheikhdoms, commonly referred to as emirates, were able to not only control their territories but also largely determine how to enhance their economies. Due to this, Dubai became the second most influential emirate in the country. It can be argued that the two, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, became very influential due to the fact that the country’s top leadership resided or were citizens of the two regions. Whereas the president of the UAE is from Abu Dhabi, the Vice President is from Dubai. Despite this, the other regions are equally wealthy due to a well-calculated distribution of wealth. As stated, the country’s main wealth has been harnessed from oil, a natural resource. However, currently, the country is seeking other ways of getting revenue.
Geographical standing of the UAE
Situated in the Middle East, the UAE borders the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Malek (2016) argues that the UAE is strategically positioned as it is in the middle of the world’s crude oil transit. This position is important for two main reasons. First, the country is able to monitor the movement of crude oil and gets revenue for the different countries that pass the oil through its borders. Second, the country also has easier access to transportation of its own oil to other countries. Thus, the country does not use as much money to transport oil to its clients.
Due to its geographical location, the weather is mainly hot and sunny. The general climate has forced populations to settle along the coastline due to higher humidity. The whole region receives very little rainfall all through the year. The country has two main sources of water. The first is from the sea and the second is from the ground. Underground water is mainly used for agricultural purposes.
However, as Moghimi, Emadi, Mirzazade-Akbarpoor, and Mollaei (2018) note, the country has invested in water harvesting technology and desalinates much of the seawater for daily use. One can argue that the technology that has been used to ensure access to clean and safe water has greatly helped the country attract the foreigners that have boosted its economy. Indeed, it can be argued that this was used as a public relations campaign to assure foreigners that they will have access to water despite being in a desert. The sanitation system is also highly developed.
The UAE’s global economic position
The UAE has several economic strengths, both its geographic location and availability of natural resources. It has some of the largest confirmed petroleum reserves in the world as well as abundant amounts of natural gas. The kingdom uses enormous profits from the sale of these resources to develop industries such as digital technology and chemical production to give it economic diversification (Library of Congress, 2007). The country’s location bordering the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Woman with water access to the Arabian Sea grants its access to important shipping lanes.
Diversification is a key strength in the economy of the UAE. As stated, initially, the country only focused on economic growth based on their natural oil reserves. However, two things forced the UAE to diversify the economy. The first thing is the depletion of the country’s oil reserves. The country holds 10% of the world’s fossil oil reserves (Rahman, 2018). However, the amount of oil that the country transports to other states and uses its own purposes is extremely high. Rahman (2018) suggests that the reserves will be completely depleted in the next 60 years. It is this specific reason that forced the government to look for other ways of generating revenue.
Through diversification, the country’s economy has been significantly boosted by real estate development. Abu Dhabi is one of the most developed cities in the world. It not only has skyscrapers but also schools that teach and develop creative architectural designs. With buildings such as the Princess Towers and the Burj Khalifa, one can argue that the fast development of Dubai will lead to it being the number 1 architectural hub in the world.
The impressive architectural designs have pulled in tourists from all over the world. In fact, Dubai is one of the most visited cities in the world. Diversification has led to the development of a robust economy due to the inclusion of various businesses from the western world. These businesses have mainly targeted the foreigners that live and work in the UAE. All undertaken revenue-generating activities have ensured that the UAE not only became the fastest growing economy in the region but also that it maintains a strong economic position in the world.
In the 1950s first, oil deposits were discovered in the UAE, gradually transforming the country into a unified petroleum powerhouse. It led to successful economic development and infrastructure growth. This led to rapid industrialization and rapid investment into regional growth. In the recent decade, the UAE has established a goal of diversifying its economy by investing in education, digital technology, tourism, and chemical industries (Delgado, 2016).
The UAE has one of the highest rates of oil production in the world, producing approximately 3.5 million barrels per day. It also holds one of the largest oil reserves at about 98 billion barrels (Rahman, 2018). The UAE is a leader for OPEC and a consistently reliable partner for oil production globally. The large amounts of oil reserves and production from various oil fields ensure that each city has access to petroleum for sale.
Although significant attempts and progress have been made to diversify the economy, the UAE is still reliant on oil sales for approximately a third of its GDP. However, not all cities are oil-dependent. For example, Abu Dhabi is focused on creating industrial zones and expanding its presence in the global supply chain by modernizing ports. Meanwhile, Dubai serves as the primary financial center and tourism destination, all of which contribute significant income to the GDP (UAE Ministry of Economy, 2017).
There are several economic threats that the UAE faces. One threat is the overdependence on imports. Since the country does engage a lot in agriculture, it relies on food imports from other countries. This is an economic threat as the UAE is perceived as a non-player in the agricultural sector. The region is capable of desalinating water and using it for everyday activities. It should also be able to use the same water for agricultural purposes.
The overdependence on imports has also affected the way the UAE interacts with other states in the global economic platform. At present time, the only resource the country has been able to trade is oil. As stated, the country’s oil reserves are depleting. Upon depletion, the UAE will not have anything to trade with and this might affect citizen’s basic needs such as access to food.
Additionally, the country has depleting natural resources. Oil, land, and water are all depleting at a significant rate. Oil is depleting due to overreliance on it as the country’s main source of revenue. Rahman (2018) confirms that the product has been used as the single most common trade item. Countries that get oil from the UAE have also taken advantage of the fact that the country does not have any other trading items.
On the same note, the land is a rapidly depleting resource in the country. Since a larger proportion of the country is engulfed by the desert, slightly humid areas are overpopulated. Poor governance and inappropriate use of land have also led to the desertification of other areas that were initially semi-arid in nature. Additionally, the country has not fully embraced the idea of reducing the desert through irrigation and farming, making a large part of the country uninhabitable.
It is also crucial to point out that the fast depletion of water is associated with the depletion of oil. The desalination process requires a lot of electricity. The UAE generates much of its electricity from oil. Therefore, the depletion of oil will result in the depletion of electricity, which in turn will also result in the depletion of water. One can argue that there is a need to enhance efforts to ensure that the country generates electricity from other sources as the depletion of oil cannot be avoided. One such alternative is the use of wind power. Being situated in a desert, the UAE has a lot of wind energy that can be turned into electricity.
Additionally, the UAE has been criticized for enhancing environmental issues that have had a significant impact on global climate. It is arguable that some of the wealthiest people in the world reside in the UAE. Many oil tycoons use vehicles that are detrimental to the environment (Rahman, 2018). One strategy the UAE can use in regards to public relations is to encourage the country to highlight some of the efforts it has made to protect the environment. Indeed, the global community has also commended the region for taking environmental conservation seriously.
However, it is important to note that the country still struggles in regard to environmental protection. This affects the economy negatively as the enlarging desert offers little if any economic prospects to both the country and its investors. There are various strategies that UAE can employ to reduce these economic issues. First, as suggested, the government should stop being dependant on other states for basic needs such as food. With a proper irrigation system, the country will not only lower the chances of complete desertification but also will ensure revenue generation. On the same note, it will serve as a good public relations campaign highlighting the country’s efforts to ensure environmental conservation.
The industrialization of the UAE makes it economically stronger since it is no longer reliant on oil for its economic growth. This protects it from any shocks or volatility that are common with oil prices. Industrialization is strongly linked with improved infrastructure and better self-reliance of the country due to manufacturing possibilities. Furthermore, industrialization attracts a wide variety of businesses and investments into the UAE, which is less likely in a nationalized oil economy (UAE Ministry of Economy, 2017). The biggest threat to date remains the UAE’s heavy reliance on its petroleum production.
This is strongly influenced by global supply and demand, which poses a risk to the economy. For example, the oil price decline in the early 2010’s caused significant stagnation in the economy and pushed back deadlines on numerous construction and development projects due to lack of funding. The UAE is actively attempting to diversify the economy by educating its population, attracting investors, and setting strategic goals in order to overcome this issue.
Industrial revolution in the UAE
The UAE has been noted as a potential leader in the fourth industrial revolution (Hirschi, 2018). This concept is defined as a period of diffused technological superiority that combines advancements in physical, digital, and biological spheres into one. Technically, the fourth revolution will be a digital one driven by technology. There are various reasons that have led to the identification of the UAE as the leader of the fourth revolution.
One such reason is the advanced technology already used in the architectural field in the country. As mentioned, the UAE is not only invested in having some of the best building designs in the world. The country has also put a lot of effort into innovations in the architectural space. They have experimented with new materials for building more sustainable constructions that support environmental conservation as well.
The second reason why the country has been in the lead of the fourth industrial revolution is the fact that it has also been fully involved in the advancement of technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, driverless autos, and digital manufacturing. According to Hirschi (2018), the UAE is keen on the fourth revolution as it deems to be the key element in ensuring successful development.
One of the main focuses of the revolution is the development of sustainable cities. According to Hirschi (2018), sustainable cities offer the maximum potential to both investors and citizens while ensuring the conservation of other important elements such as environment, integrity, and accountability. There are many other countries that have also shown interest in the fourth revolution. However, only the UAE has been identified as a leader in the implementation and combination of the four mentioned fields.
Crucial to point out, the UAE is currently the only state that has taken tangible actions towards enhancing the fourth revolution. For instance, the government has appointed several officials to oversee the artificial intelligence segment (Hirschi, 2018). The work of these ministers and other government officials revolve around managing technologies dealing with artificial intelligence and coming up with ways to further the sector through collaborating with other branches of science.
Also, the government formed a special council that deals with all matters concerning the fourth revolution (Hirschi, 2018). The council is also tasked with scouting for potential partnerships the country can get into to encourage their strive for dominance in the fourth revolution. In order to ensure this, the council has developed a protocol for a partnership with the World Economic Forum that solidifies the country’s interest in the revolution (Hirschi, 2018).
One can argue that the UAE is currently shaping the future of the world, not just the economy. By putting itself at the forefront of technological advancements and the fourth revolution, the country is proving to be a major player in both the economics and political spheres of the future. The media have covered the country’s involvement and interest in the fourth revolution extensively. One can argue that the media has also given the UAE the prominence it needs on the global platform by highlighting some of the achievements the country has accomplished so far. Indeed, this is a form of public relations that has worked well by strategically informing the world that the UAE is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Investing in the UAE
Two main factors have to be considered when discussing investing in the UAE. Those are investing of local residents and investing of foreigners. According to Bambridge (2018), many locals have raised concern over losing out on investment opportunities in the UAE. Numerous stockholders have opted over to invest abroad over the years due to the large influx of foreigners that have already entered the UAE market. This situation caused the government to put policies in place that make it easier for locals to invest in the UAE. For instance, many multinational corporations had a hard time investing in the country without the help of a local. Citizens of the UAE have partnered with multinational companies that were interested in investing in the UAE to start businesses, where they have a share.
As stated, the other element of discussion when talking about investing in the UAE is foreign investments. This is the most common type of investing in the UAE. As mentioned, foreigners can easily invest in the country by partnering with locals. This will ensure they do not pay as much in terms of taxes. In Dubai, there are designated areas where foreign investors are allowed to set up their shops and offices. Locals are not allowed to do the same in those areas. However, such districts are very expensive. They have expensive housing and infrastructure and also pay more taxes compared to neighborhoods that host locally owned businesses. To avoid paying higher taxes and expenses, foreigners have partnered with locals to have their offices and shops in cheaper districts so as to maximize profit.
Dubai is the most attractive UAE city for investment. This is due to the economy having a competitive advantage regarding cost, market access, and environmental advantage. The government has focused on creating an ideal climate for investment for both local and foreign businesses. The city has the necessary infrastructure, geographical location, and venues to become a leading investment and financial center in the Middle East (Government of Dubai, n.d.).
Initially, the UAE was composed of tribes that lived along the coast. There was fewer settlement or development further inland due to the desert climate. Geographically, the UAE is located in a landlocked position except for its access to the Gulf of Oman. However, as the country developed, it has used its strategic location to position itself as the gateway between East and West. It retained many Eastern traditions that did not turn away from its neighbors while adopting a commercial economy that attracts Western investors (Kingdom of the Netherlands, 2015).
One can argue that the UAE has used public relations to place itself as a good investment hub for foreigners. It has proclaimed that investors are welcomed into the country without any boas or judgment based on where they are from and their religion. Being a country led strictly by Islamic rules, the UAE has practically done the impossible by welcoming other religions but still valuing its own culture and religious beliefs. Bambridge (2018) argues that the country has managed to do this due to the fact that a significant number of foreigners in the UAE are also Muslims. Regardless of this, the country has been able to convince the world’s population that not only they are able to invest in the UAE but they can also become very successful from the venture.
One of the things that have been declared to the world about investing in the UAE is that the country itself is in a very strategic position, both geographically and economically. Geographically, as mentioned, it lies along with the crude oil transit, and investors interested in oil might find this very appealing. On the other hand, the country has also been presented as strategically positioned in terms of the economy due to its influence in both the regional and global economic platforms. The additional fact that the UAE has been described as a leader in the fourth industrial revolution is attractive to investors looking to make an impact in the near future.
Additionally, despite the numerous cultures and religions that coexist within the UAE, the region is relatively stable. Political and cultural or social stability is critical for investors. The open nature of the society allows investors to feel safe and protected under the law of the country even when they are not Muslims.
Economic projections of the UAE
The UAE has experienced some deceleration of growth of its economy in recent years but still managed to keep the rate at approximately 1.5% annually. Macroeconomic policy and measures have come into effect to accelerate growth in the next few years. Recovering oil prices made a strong contribution to this process. With the current strategy of diversification, the UAE economy is likely to continue experiencing growth as elements of knowledge creation and innovation in key sectors are adopted. The UAE will increase its GDP annual growth to 4.3% by 2020 and double its current output by 2050 (UAE Ministry of Economy, 2018).
Economic strength will increase as long as diversification actively continues. From an economic perspective, stability will be guaranteed if the country builds its economy around innovative technologies and self-sustaining manufacturing. While oil is projected to play a major role in global economics for at least half a century, renewable resources are becoming more popular. Currently, the UAE is shifting away from a petroleum-based economy developing other resources such as natural gas (UAE Ministry of Economy, 2018).
Other factors that have to be considered when talking about the economic projections of the UAE include the rate of employment, the balance of trade, and national debt to GDP. In regards to the rate of employment, it is expected that more people will be unemployed in the UAE in the near future. According to Bambridge (2018), currently, the unemployment rate stands at 2.1%. This percentage will rise to 3.2% by the year 2021 (Bambridge, 2018).
As stated, many women are unemployed in the UAE. This is not due to lack of education but overall societal expectations and definition of gender roles. Despite being highly educated, women are made, and some prefer, to be stay-at-home mothers. With the female population in the region continuing to rise (compared to men), the number of unemployed women (if nothing is done to resolve the gender imbalance) will also rise.
On the same note, whereas the UAE attracts many foreigners, natives are seeking ways to leave their country and make a life for themselves elsewhere. Hallam (2017) argues that the majority of the people that are seeking to leave the UAE for other opportunities abroad are the millennials. The main reason behind their desire to move abroad is the exposure they have received through the internet and schooling outside the UAE.
Even though the country has many universities and colleges, it is common to find families taking their children abroad for further studies. Hallam (2017) explains that families in the UAE believe they have to fight harder for jobs within their country due to the heavy competition from other foreigners who have studied in world-renowned schools. One can argue that it is this loss of local talent that has forced the UAE government to (currently) invest heavily in their education system.
According to the UAE Ministry of Economy. (2018), in the near future the balance of trade will increase by at least 165%. This means that the UAE will be more dependent on imports than it is today. One of the reasons for this projection is the fact that the country’s population is continuing to grow in size. A larger population would mean more imports of the basic needs that the citizens require. The only way to stop such a projection is through investing in agribusiness as the leading import for the UAE is food. The country has the potential of enhancing its irrigation system to help produce more staple foods for its population.
Last but not least, the national debt against the GDP will stand at 22.3% by 2022 (UAE Ministry of Economy, 2018). This means that the country will, have more debt than it does today. One can state the rising debt will become a complication for funding the fourth industrial revolution. As mentioned, the UAE currently puts oil as its main export and trading element. The gradual depletion of natural resources will also lower the country’s bargaining power. With this, the country will have to borrow more in order to cater to the basic needs of its population. Again, these projections can be slightly managed by the country’s government. For example, the projections given in regards to national debt are very low. The logic behind this is the fact that the government has put in place viable solutions to help stop depending on oil only as of the main trading element and so forth.
Effects of the UAE’s Economic Standing on its PR
One effect of the UAE’s economic standing on its PR is that it has given the world a glimpse of the impending future. Even though the country has been busy explaining how it intends to survive after the depletion of oil, which is its main trading resource, the poor public relations that have surrounded the discussions have enhanced debates on environmental protection and depletion of natural resources as a whole. Due to this, the government made their priority to assure that the use of the remaining oil is well monitored and more protective measures are being taken to ensure the conservation of the environment. On the same note, the economic standing has also forced the country to always be on the lookout for negative PR based on the gradual desertification of the country.
Indeed, the UAE’s economic standing has also enhanced the country’s public image. The story of the UAE is inspiring as it highlights the struggles the country has overcome in order to not only be independent but also establish itself as an influencer in the global economic platform. Other countries have used the formation of the UAE to encourage citizens of how proper governance and management of resources can lead to a wealthy nation. Despite this, the same public image has also opened up the country to investigations with regards to human rights violations and corruption due to oil cartels.
The most influential families have been accused of being corrupt while the culture of the country has been associated with gender inequality. One can, however, suggest that the economic standing of the UAE has so far been beneficial rather than detrimental to the region’s public relations.
The UAE’s Political Position
The President of the UAE is Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. However, the country is realistically ruled by the Federal Supreme Council, with representatives from each emirate. While the executive branch works with macroeconomic and international issues, it passes down a lot of power to local governments. This follows the traditional council governance framework that ensures locals have free access to leaders and have their voices heard (Fanack, 2018).
The UAE formation process was complicated as various sheiks attempted to unite the nation under one government after Britain surrendered its right to rule over the country. During this process in 1971, Iran actively attempted to capture islands in the Persian Gulf belonging to the UAE. The crisis was diplomatically resolved as the UAE promised payments to Iran to ensure peace (Tristam, 2017). Other countries in the Arabian Peninsula were undergoing similar processes of formation. The UAE was able to strengthen the bond between society and rulers due to the six founding fathers, sheiks of tribes that united together to lead the country to prosperity.
Their contributions helped shape the economic and political roles of the UAE, as well as establish internal security and stability. Shaikh Zayed was considered the first ruler of the UAE and helped to negotiate the union amongst the tribes and leaders. He contributed to the introduction of the petroleum industry in the country and then using the oil production money to massively overhaul infrastructure for the benefit of society which earned him tremendous respect (Salama, 2016).
The UAE shares friendly relationships with its neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, largely due to commercial ties in the petroleum industry. Furthermore, common values and political objectives with its neighbor Saudi Arabia have led to the development of government tires and security assistance. Furthermore, most Middle Eastern countries are part of the Arab League and OPEC, allowing the establishment of diplomatic channels (Library of Congress, 2007).
Iran is the only country that the UAE experiences tension with due to historical conflicts and their expanding military capabilities while the former host’s military bases from Iran’s rival, the United States. The UAE consistently ranks at the top of Middle Eastern countries in its economic strength and international reputation. This suggests that the country is better for fostering business environments and overall more stable. It is ranked in the top 10 globally for infrastructure quality and in the top 30 for GDP per capita, higher than most of the other Middle Eastern countries (Abbas, 2018).
The UAE values its approach to a peaceful and diplomatic political relationship with other countries. It consistently abides by international law and actively participates in regional and global multi-national organizations such as the United Nations and Arab League.
The UAE strategy is to maintain the Emirate’s political and economic interests through diplomacy, security, stability, and sustainable development (UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, n.d.a). It focuses on building cooperative relationships with other nations. The country actively participates in the United Nations and regional organizations. It is the primary goal of the UAE’s foreign policy to develop diplomatic networks.
Despite its size, the UAE holds a significant place in global politics due to presenting itself as a key regional ally in the Middle East. The UAE builds vital economic, political, and military partnerships with international superpowers such as the United States and China. It forges relationships based on stability, balance, and supporting values such as human rights. The UAE does not compromise its principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in its foreign policy (UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, n.d.b).
Politically, the UAE plays a role of a bridge between the East and the West because it serves as a strategic and economic center in the Middle East. It remains traditionally conservative, with semi-authoritarian rule and Islamic law. However, it is also one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East, sharing numerous values and strategic interests with the United States.
The UAE contributes generous amounts of humanitarian aid to other countries. It does not discriminate based on geography, race, and religion. The UAE is ranked in the top 10 largest donors globally by the OECD. Humanitarian aid is aimed mostly at social objectives, improving sustainable development and welfare in other regions (UAE Government, 2017). In situations of political conflict of interest, the UAE maintains a diplomatic but stern approach. The country uses its leverage as an economic power and alliances with other countries to ensure that events do not negatively affect the UAE (Malek, 2016). However, it maintains the status as a peaceful and stable nation, attempting to resolve any threats or potential conflicts.
The UAE’s global position
Due to the fact that the UAE is not a democratic nation, it has kept up the global political scene. However, the country has stable foreign relations with several countries. Fanack (2018) notes that the UAE considers each relationship with the different countries independently and has so far not been influenced to take up or reject certain diplomatic relations. Additionally, the state is a member of the UN and other regulatory bodies that govern countries that have oil production.
One can argue that despite not being an active player in the global political platform, the UAE is considered an ally to several nations. All this, again, is due to the country’s hold on the oil industry. Viewed as one of the world’s best and most sought-after natural resources, oil has given the UAE much of the political power it has today. Many countries that have failed or refused to embrace democracy have in the past been served with various sanctions.
Despite this, the UAE is still looked upon favorably by international committees. The strategic global political positioning of the country goes hand in hand with how it prefers to deal with individual countries as opposed to blocks. For instance, Algeria is one of the few countries in Africa that has an embassy in the UAE. The main reason behind this is the fact that the two countries developed the UAE- Algeria Business Council that seeks ways of boosting both country’s economy using their different resources. On the same note, Kenya also has an embassy in the UAE. The main cause of the relationship between the two countries is the fact that many Kenyans have been accepted into the UAE as casual laborers while Kenya imports the goods and has opened up its market to UAE investors.
There have been various international disputes that the country has dealt with in the recent past. For instance, there have been frontier issues with Saudi Arabia and Oman (IBP, 2017). There have also been boundary disputes with Iran over some regions in the Persian Gulf (IBP, 2017). Currently, none of these conflicts has been resolved and all the parties involved have been working relentlessly to find the solution.
The UAE has kept off any politically motivated disputes about countries that are guided using Sharia Law as well. On the global political platform, there have been debates on how to engage with countries that are run specifically using Sharia Law and Islamic teachings. Whereas the nation has not commented on such debates before, the government of the UAE has been keen on stating that it is open to the world but will maintain its culture and religion.
According to Watts (2014), the military of the UAE is very small and comprises approximately 100,000 individuals. Despite this, it has been highly influential in fighting the war against terrorism. One of the reasons the military has been maintaining at such a small number is the fact that the country has not been involved in any other active war. It is important to note, however, that the military has grown over the years with the number increasing slightly every year.
As stated, the UAE is one of the most advanced nations in the world. Its military also has advanced (but allowed by the UN) weapons. Due to a special relationship between the UK and the UAE, (the UK was a former protector of the region), all military troupes are trained to the highest degree by the United Kingdom. The weapons they use are also mainly purchased from the United Kingdom or France.
Watts (2014) notes that the country has also taken up military technology as a way of generating more revenue. It has developed military equipment that has been purchased internationally for hostilities and brought a significant amount of money for the state. However, there have been various concerns over the provision of war-related merchandise and Islamic teachings. Whereas Islam teaches its followers to be peaceful and avoid war as much as possible, the country is helping other nations to wage wars by supplying them with weapons. There are some critics of the government that have used this argument to demand a democratic state that does not use Sharia Law.
The UAE has shown various political interests. There has been a lot of interest in enhancing bilateral relationships with the world’s most powerful countries (Toledo, 2013). For example, in 2018, China and the UAE recorded a milestone when the Chinese president visited the region for the first time. Indeed, China and the UAE have not had close links due to their differences in culture, history, and governance. Despite that, both countries have two of the most prominent economies in the world and stronger bilateral agreements might suggest future collaborations on sectors of mutual interests such as energy and technology.
It is important to note that the political interests the UAE is currently pursuing are closely tied with its future aspirations such as being the leader of the fourth industrial revolution. The partnerships that the country has established so far are with the world’s superpowers as opposed to before when it was mainly focusing on relatively smaller nations and economies. On the same note, one can argue that in the past the UAE has been a subtle player in the political field. Indeed, the country can even be described as a non-contender in any of the political debates that have arisen over the decades.
As mentioned, however, it continued to have and develop individual relationships with various countries. Today, however, the state is more pronounced in the global political arena. The leaders of the country have been careful not to comment or engage in world politics, seeing that the country is governed by Sharia Law, but they still managed to play a crucial part in developing some international political and economic policies.
Effects of the UAE’s Political Standing on its PR
Just like the cultural and economic positions, the UAE’s political standing also affects its PR in various ways. One is the fact that the world perceives it to be least interested in global politics. The change of political regime due to the change in presidency opened up the country to the global political platform. The perception that the country does not get involved in global politics is based on the fact that it one of the few nations in the world that are governed using Sharia Law. In global politics, there are no provisions for Sharia Law. This Law is, therefore, only applicable within the boundaries of the UAE.
Additionally, the country’s political standpoint has positively affected its PR as it is perceived to put its citizens first. There are nations that have struggled with issues of nationality and patriotism. The UAE does not have such apprehensions since many of its citizens agree with the decisions made by the government. Indeed, there have been instances of corruption in the country that have caused significant displeasure among the citizens, however, the actions that have been taken to resolve such situations were guided by both Islamic teachings and Sharia Law. It suffices to state that the country has also been perceived as a trusting and generally transparent nation due to the fact that the majority of its population is content with the government and the decisions made by its leaders.
In conclusion, there is a direct relationship between how a country presents itself to the world and its success in the economic and political platforms. The United Arab Emirates is consists of seven sheikhdoms, which are referred to as emirates. Whereas the seven emirates are combined into one, they each have their own autonomy. For instance, Abu Dhabi is recognized as one of the most urban cities in the world while Dubai is one of the most visited. On the other hand, Sharjah is well known for its cultural diversity programs. This essay sought to analyze how the cultural, political, and economic standing of the UAE have affected have been affected by the nation’s public relations.
In regards to culture, the UAE is perceived as one of the friendliest nations in the world. The fact that one of its cities, Dubai, has a big amount of foreign immigrants proves this fact. This perception of the nation has been crafted due to how it has presented itself to the world. For instance, the UAE has presented itself as a business hub of opportunities and tourism. Indeed, many investors have ventured into the UAE market and accommodated without much complication. On the other hand, tourists have memorable times visiting the beautiful architectural landmarks and desert safaris in the region.
On the other hand, the political standing of the UAE has made the world believe that the country is not interested in global politics. The nation has a very small army that is highly trained and equipped with the best forms of weapons available. However, the country has distanced itself from any of the wars and focused solely on fighting terrorism. One can argue that the main driver behind the country’s war against terrorism is to demystify the fact that terrorism arises from Islam. Lastly, the country’s economic position has given it a powerful stand in terms of public relations. It is viewed as one of the most prominent economic blocks in the world. This is arguable due to the fact that the country controls about 10% of the world’s natural oil reserves.
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