Monarchy In MENA

The infamous phrase from King Henry in Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV Part II,” “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” represents exactly what it means to be a king or monarch: an immense amount of responsibility and obligations. This parallels the monarchy system in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Historically, MENA has been well known for monarchical rule. However, many nations were not able to continue the monarchy due to various reasons. Presently, there are still several nations within the MENA region that uphold the monarchy system such as the United Arab Emirates. As King Henry stated, being a king comes with many responsibilities and challenges; in this blog post, I will discuss various challenges that have and still are faced by kings/monarch leaders in the MENA region with examples from different nations. Additionally, I will explain significant assets that this regime type has in confronting these challenges. 

The demand for political reform has increased in popularity in the 20th and 21st centuries as a result of the “youth bulge,”. Leaders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are concerned because younger generations are becoming more aware of their rights and demand political reform, as Western-style democracy has become the norm. As some of the monarchy nations are struggling to find employment for the youth generation, this causes frustrations in the young generation which can lead to protest as well. The Morocco’s protest that took place in 20 Feburary, 2011 is a perfect example of mobilzation of the young generation. 

Background Information of the Morocco Protest: The Arab Spring movement, which included protests in Morocco on February 20, 2011, campaigned for greater freedoms and better lives for citizens of various Middle Eastern and North African nations. In Morocco, young people used social media to organize and demand things like a more open and fair government, an end to corruption, and better jobs. As a result of the protest; in March 2011, King Mohammed VI announced constitutional reforms in the nation. He increased the authority of elected officials and strengthened the independence of the legal system. In a special vote, the public approved these reforms. Elections were held later that year, and the Justice and Development Party emerged victorious. Their intention when they established a government was to improve matters (Khatib, 2014).

This protest shows one of the fears many monarchy leaders have; the young generation was able to create change in the nation which has been ruled historically by the same family. The politcal reform was able to happen due to the innovative usage of technology, which allowed information to be shared both inside and outside the country, served as a catalyst for political transformation. Moreover, these youths’ greater access to education empowered them, increasing their awareness of their rights and strengthening their demands for reform. If monarchy leaders do not listen to the desires of their younger citizens and provide opportunities for economic and political engagement, the monarchy leaders may face greater challenges to their continuity to maintain power in the nation. 

Economics issues are another challenge that many monarchy leaders face in MENA. Natural resources shape many MENA regions economically such as oil renevue. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) benefits financially from oil revenue because it is a significant source of income. Better roads, schools, and other infrastructure can be constructed utilizing this money, and employment can be created. Additionally, it contributes to financial stability in the nation by ensuring that basic services like healthcare and education are maintained even in the event of low oil prices. It may also provide the nation influence in international issues. Although there are many  benefits with oil revenue there is one drawback: frequent fluctuations in oil prices. The everyday lives of individuals in MENA nations can be negatively impacted by ongoing fluctuations in oil prices, which can lead to financial difficulties, loss of employment, inflation, economic challenges, protests, and difficulties finding alternate sources of income. Saudi Arabia is a prime example of this, as its monarchy is mostly dependent on oil exports for financial support. The government’s ability to implement social welfare programs was stretched by sharp drops in oil prices, such the one that occurred in 2014, which resulted in large budget deficits and threatened the government’s legitimacy and popularity

Background Information: The significant decline in oil prices in 2014 had a significant effect on Saudi Arabia. This decline was caused by an excess of oil on the market as a result of the United States’ increased production of shale oil. Saudi Arabia decided to keep producing a lot of oil rather than reducing it in order to improve prices, which led to an even greater decline in prices. This had an impact on the world economy as well as other nations, including Saudi Arabia. In order to adjust to the declining price of oil, Saudi Arabia had to alter its spending and budget. The world was greatly impacted by this incident 

After Saudi Arabia’s oil prices fell in 2014, the government reduced spending and subsidies. Different people reacted differently; some were in favor of these changes, while others were worried about increased living expenses. The Citizen’s Account program was implemented by the government to assist families with low and moderate incomes. Individuals who diversified their financial portfolios to take advantage of the shifting economic conditions did so with savings and investments. If monarchy leaders do not control the source that shapes the economy in the nation, it causes distrust and anger in the population, which can overthrow the leader or cause corruption that can be out of control in the nation. 

The strong historical and cultural legitimacy that many monarchs have is one of the main great assets of monarchs in the MENA area. These dynasties have a sense of stability and continuity in their control because they can trace their ancestry back through generations. For example, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by the Al Saud family from the country’s founding in the early 20th century. The power of monarchs is typically reinforced by historical legitimacy, which acts as a unify factor. Because of this shared history, monarchs can look  to the traditional values of their society by presenting themselves as the guardians of their country’s religious and cultural legacy.

Another greater asset of monarchy in the MENA region is its economic resources, especially in the oil-rich Gulf states. These monarchies are able to maintain their power and deal with a variety of issues because they have access to significant financial resources, frequently in the form of sovereign wealth funds. Initiatives for economic diversification, infrastructure development, and social services can all be funded with the help of these funds. For example, Qatar has made large investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education because of its considerable wealth from natural gas exports. These investments have increased domestic support in addition to enhancing the nation’s infrastructure.

Leaders of monarchies in the MENA area confront numerous obstacles, yet there are advantages that can support them in overcoming these difficulties. The primary issue is the youth bulge; while many monarchy officials are afraid of rebelling, as the younger generation gains influence, it is becoming more difficult to suppress their anger due to access to education and technology. Because people lacked technology and were unaware of their rights, it was simpler to govern people in earlier times. The financial resources that help leaders build infrastructure and necessities for the populace, such schools and universities, are by far their greatest asset. Furthermore, monarchy leaders uphold their traditional family values, however as the generation continues, leaders change their values as creating education and jobs for all. 






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