The main purpose of this study is to compare the connection between economic growth and democracy versus the relationship between established institutions and democracy. This study contributes to a better understanding of why some countries have undergone democratization and why others have not despite economic growth, in particular Middle Eastern countries.

The study raises the following question; does economic growth contribute to the invigoration of dictatorships or does it provide a substantial groundwork for the development of democracy in a country?

This qualitative study tests the modernization and institutionalist theory against an empirical case, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The following questions are answered in order to either verify or falsify the hypothesis;

-          How has the UAE developed in terms of the economical and political arena?

-          What factors are present in the case of the UAE that are probable obstacles to the development of democracy?

Facts are produced from Freedom House Index, Human Development Index, and literature on the democratization process and Middle Eastern countries. The conclusion that is drawn is that, economic growth has intensified the regime’s sovereignty in the UAE. Despite vast economic growth in the UAE, the political status quo remains unchanged and each emirate still maintain considerable autonomy. Thus, on the basis of the case study of the UAE, the modernization theory should perhaps be reviewed. 



“Democracy forever teases us with the taunting disparity between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.” – Agnes Repplier


 Economic development and democratization


No matter how much the concept of democracy may be distorted the majority of leaders of undemocratic regimes claim that their government is interested in the good of their people. There are great variations amongst countries in regards to how well their regimes fulfill the criteria for democracy or how well institutions of a polyarchy are preserved. 

After the end of the Cold War, democratization captured the interest of former undemocratic countries and it was postulated that passive authoritarian regimes of the Middle East would soon follow. Yet, stagnation of the democratic process is still the prevailing feature of politics in the Middle East (Huntington, 1991).

What conditions benefit the inauguration of democracy and what prevents its stabilization and consolidation have confounded researchers for centuries, who have attempted to identify the most important factors.  

It is interesting to acknowledge that capitalist liberal democracies such as the United States, while promoting democracy in Eastern Europe, advocate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East to secure its interests. However, the aftermath of September 11th has led the American administration to ponder over the idea of democratizing regimes in the Arab world. 

Is it accurate to declare that democracy is, in essence, a Western perception and thereby inconsistent with principles of the Arab continent? If that is the case, is then the Arab world foreordained to dictatorship and oppression? Research in this area of study reveals which factors promote or impede the spread of democracy, which is of relevance if authoritarian regimes are to embark on a change and if countries of the Western world want to engage in promoting it.

Despite the fact that this area of study has been prevalent throughout time, it retained a new meaning as a result of September 11th

This area of study is interesting due to the fact that citizens in some Middle Eastern countries are trying to alter the situation within their countries. Women are beginning to pronounce their rights and in some countries young people are confronting government oppression. Moreover, democratization should be studied because it is one of the most dramatic transitions that societies undergo. 

Some Arab states are evolving at an overwhelming rate in the existing globalised world but their political systems seem to remain stagnant. Thereby, this study concerns whether economic growth contributes to the invigoration of dictatorships or if it provides a substantial groundwork for the development of democracy in a country?