The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

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Abstract

This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.

Contributor Notes

Charles Mitchell is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a former award-winning communications professor at the American University of Kuwait. He has published peer-reviewed articles on media and audiences in the Middle East. A member of the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), he is now a communications consultant and journalist based in the Gulf with research interests in social media and political change, international humanitarian law, and media freedoms in the Arabian region. Email: charlesamitchell@gmail.com

Juliet Dinkha, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and an associate professor of psychology at the American University of Kuwait. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Middle East Psychological Association (MEPA). Her clinical and research experiences and publications have focused on mental health issues among the Arab and Arab-American populations. She is also a board member of the American Business Council of Kuwait (ABCK), whereby she is involved in promoting US business interests in Kuwait and enhancing business relations among diverse individuals and institutions. Email: jdinkha@auk.edu.kw

Aya Abdulhamid is a research assistant and graduate in communication and media studies at the American University of Kuwait. Her research interests include media theory, new media, social media, international relations, the Arab Spring, political communication, media and psychology, and behavioral science. She is a coauthor of a conference paper presented in 2012 at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), Durban, South Africa. Her current two research projects include topics on the Arab Spring and social media. Email: abdulhadi.aya@gmail.com

Contention

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