Custom «The Political Landscape of Iceland and the United Arab Emirates» Sample Essay
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The political landscape of each country depends on many factors, including its geographical position, history, culture and natural resources. In order to test the validity of the above suggestion in the paper, the Republic of Iceland, the world’s oldest democratic country, and the extremely wealthy authoritarian United Arab Emirates were taken as examples. The two countries have overcome many difficulties on their way to independence, and as they have developed within different historical conditions, they have completely different political environment now.
History of Iceland
The detailed information about first settlers of Iceland could be found in the Book of Settlements, or Landnamabok, written in the 12th century (Iceland Trade). As this book states, the first settler was Ingólfur Arnarson. In 874, he moved from Norway with his family and founded a farm in a place of its future capital Reykjavík. By the year 930, Scandinavian Vikings and Celtic people settled down in Iceland and the period of settlement came to an end. In 930, the constitutional set of laws was adopted and Althingi, the constitution, was created (Iceland Trade).
In the year 1000, the majority of population gathered at Althingi and decided to adopt Christianity. In 1056, the first bishopry was founded at Skálholt on the south of Iceland and in 1106, a second one was established at Hólar in the north, and these localities became educational centers for Icelanders. In 1397, after its Golden Age, Iceland fell under Denmark King’s rule. Reforms provided by Danish monarchs affected many spheres, including the Church, trade and governing strategy among others (Iceland Trade).
In 1918, Iceland became sovereign, but it was joined to Denmark under the Danish crown. In 1940, Iceland was invaded by the British army, while in 1941, the American military forces occupied the Icelandic territories. At last, on June 17, 1944, Iceland was officially proclaimed independent and became the Republic of Iceland (Iceland Trade).
Icelandic Political Landscape
The Icelandic Constitution, the Althingi, is the oldest constitution in Europe and it makes Iceland the first democratic country in the region. The Althingi states that the people is the only source of power. The Parliament and President together represent the legislative power in the country. Regardless of that all laws should be approved by the President before they are adopted, Iceland is a parliamentary republic and the Parliament has more power, while the President performs a more representative function. The Prime Minister heads the government that is reelected every 4 years. The President and the Parliament is elected by means of secret ballot. The President should not belong to any political party. The current President is Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. He was first elected in 1996 and was re-elected for 3 times (Iceland Trade).
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History of United Arab Emirates
Seven emirates make up the UAE, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah. The archeological evidence proves that there were settlements of Bedouin tribes on the territory of the modern UAE who traded with Mesopotamia. The settlements were located mostly along the coastline. When the Portuguese occupied the territory along the coast, they taxed the trade between the tribes, India and China. In 1820, the treaty between the Trucial Rulers and the British was signed and it resulted in economic growth and peace on the seaside. The peace ended in 1930 with the attempts of Trucial communities to share the sphere of influence among each other. In 1950, the oil, which is also called ‘black gold’, was found in the UAE, and since that time, the living standards and the infrastructure developed rapidly (Metz). In 1952, the sheikhs of the Trucial States decided to establish a council that would have enforced the cooperation between them and promoted the social and economic growth. In 1968, the British realized that they cannot involve in the Trucial States’ politics mainly because their forces were stretched sufficiently. This decision resulted in creation the Federation and signing the agreement between the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Other sheikhs joined the federation later. Nowadays, the UAE is a country with highly developed economy, especially oil exporting and tourism industry. This state remains the only united country in the Middle East (Metz).
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The Political Landscape of the UAE
The UAE is a federation that joined together 7 emirates. The state was officially created on 2 December, 1971. The UAE’s political system, an original mixture of traditions and modern tendencies, serves as the basis for political strength, promoting the development of modern management strategies while preserving the traditional heritage (Metz).
The governing system consists of the Supreme Council, the Council of Ministers and independent judiciary. The Supreme Council comprises of the sheikhs of the united emirates. Every 5 years, they elect the President and Vice President among each other. The Supreme Council represents both legislative and executive branches of power. The body adopts laws and bills, plans inner and outer policy, and approves candidates of the Prime Minister (Metz).
At the same time, the Cabinet of Ministers represents the executive branch of power. The institution is headed by a Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President and the Supreme Council and selects ministers. In 2006, 24 members of Cabinet were approved by the proposal of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was the Vice President of the UAE (Emirates).
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Comparison of the Political Situations
Comparing political situations in the Republic of Iceland and the United Arab Emirates, it is necessary to pay attention to several points, such as the process of authority election, pluralism of political parties, the rate of corruption, freedom of belief, and individual human rights.
In the UAE the whole decision-making power is concentrated in hands of 7 political leaders. In contrast to the UAE, in Iceland, the only source of power is the people that elect the state authorities. In the Middle-Eastern country, political parties are forbidden, but in Iceland, from 6 to 15 parties participate in parliamentary elections every 4 years. In political landscapes of these two countries, there is one common feature: the corruption rate is very low in both of them. Nonetheless, the reasons of such low corruption rate are different. In both countries, the constitution ensures freedom of religion. The majority of the UAE citizens are Muslims and the religious minority may worship without any fear to be arrested. In Iceland, the law also protects representatives of different religious groups. However, discrimination of foreign people sometimes happens in the UAE what is impossible in Iceland, number two in Democracy Index list (Iceland Trade). Gender discrimination is also common for the UAE. Though women are allowed to work in the government, there are still not many women among state authorities. In comparison with Iceland, in 2013, 40% of people in Althingi were female and, in 2009, Icelanders elected their first female Prime Minister (Iceland Trade).
To conclude, Iceland and the UAE have some similarities in their historical background. Both countries were under the rule of more powerful countries; both had experienced cultural and economic oppression, and after some, time they gained independence. Another common point is loyalty to the norms in questions of religious concerns since representatives of any religion feel themselves comfortable in both countries. One more similarity is a low corruption rate that could be considered as a big achievement in the modern society. On the other hand, differences are innumerable. The most significant difference is the way decisions are made in each country and the opportunity for people to influence those decisions. Icelanders have the right to vote and elect state authorities who make decisions on behalf of the people. In contrast, the people of the UAE do not decide anything themselves and cannot elect authorities as power in the country is mostly hereditary. By studying these two examples, it was possible to observe the model of democratic and authoritarian country and their political landscapes.
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