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Is this the end of Middle East monarchy?

Summary: It's a matter of time before every citizens in Middle East rally for constitutional reform. How close we are to this change may not be up to the rulers.

There are only eight Arab monarchies left: Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar and Oman--a far cry from the state of political affairs back in the early 1900s when the region was ruled mostly by such heads of state.

So what happened? By the 1960s, monarchies of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq and Yemen were either toppled or transformed into republics. And in his article originally published in Al Akhbar, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi proffers that an evolution into constitutional monarchies isn't a question of 'if' but of 'when' it will happen.

"The 2011 popular Arab uprisings that are spreading throughout the region will affect every single country in the region, if not in the short term then several years down the line," he writes.

What's more, Al Qassemi draws a picture of Middle East monarchies' future role in the Middle East as something similar to that of the current British monarchy. Although Kipp would have to say this is probably something that we won't see in the better part of our lifetime.

In the article, however, which was republished on, Al Qassemi sees three cycles to the region's political evolution. Here is his forecast:

Cycle 1: Kuwait, Jordan Morocco

At 71 years old, the current Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser al Sabah is believed to be the last premier to be chosen from the royal family. Meanwhile, promises of reform by the Kings of Jordan and Morocco have not satiated its citizens.

Cycle 2: Bahrain, Oman

Bahrain, with its historically active civil society, didn't make it to the first cycle because its recent uprising was a wasted opportunity, according to some analysts. Wasted or not, the will to demand change continues to be there albeit stunted. On the other hand, Oman is a more straightforward and most likely less riotous transition of power. With Sultan Qaboos not being able to pass on power to a family member, it will be easier to develop constitutional reforms without much opposition from the rest of the currently governing body.

Cycle 3: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE

This final cycle is an open ended one. Al Qassemi admits this himself. This is due to what Al Qassemi as a weak civil society infrastructure and a complex family rule. In the UAE, he gives the example of the low turnout of eligible voters in the latest FNC (Federal National Council) elections, as a sign of apathy from citizens. And in Qatar, the Emir has repeatedly promised reforms in the constitutional vote but it has yet to materialise.

The last and perhaps most symbolical monarchy is Saudi Arabia--and despite mounting calls within the Kingdom for constitutional reform, it is wholly unclear if changes like this can ever be put on the table.

As a sign of caution, Al Qassemi says, inaction will only push the reform forward.

But what do you think? Do you think the role of the rulers is diminishing? Or do you think that for those ruling families that are deeply entrenched into the private sector through businesses will stay in power indefinitely.

Leave comments below or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter (@Kipp_Report) or email us at

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Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Nov 9, 2011
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