"Regarding UAE [United Arab Emirate] domestic politics and human rights issues, the UAE's relatively open borders and economy have won praise from advocates of expanded freedoms in the Middle East, but have also produced social ills such as abuses of foreign workers and human trafficking. The social and economic freedoms have not translated into significant political change; the UAE remains under the control of a small circle of leaders who allow citizen participation primarily through traditional methods of consensus-building. To date, these consultation mechanisms, economic wealth, and reverence for established leaders have enabled the UAE to avoid wide-scale popular unrest. Since 2006, the government has provided some formal popular participation in governance through a public selection process for half the membership of its quasi-legislative body, the Federal National Council (FNC). But, the leadership has resisted any dramatic or rapid further opening of the political process and has suppressed both Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamists and secular opposition activists. Very few policy changes are anticipated should UAE President Shaykh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan leave the scene unexpectedly. He suffered a stroke on January 24, 2014, leaving his younger brother Shaykh Mohammad bin Zayid, who already had substantial governing responsibilities, in charge. The extent of President Khalifa's current governing role is unclear."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21852