Results of the Third Edition (2022)
The State of Kuwait has maintained first rank, with a score of 534 out of a total of 1,000 on the GCCPPI (which means 9 scores up in comparison to last year), followed by the State of Qatar, which moved up to the second rank, with a score of 453 (which means 6 scores up).
The Sultanate of Oman declined to third rank with a score of 439 (which means 10 scores down). The Kingdom of Bahrain remained in the fourth rank with a score of 438, followed by the United Arab Emirates in the fifth rank with a score of 320, and then the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the last rank with a score of 233.
Kuwait alone still exceeds the 500-score mark, as the other countries remain below it. This indicates a state of stagnation in the development of political environments within the GCC countries, since with the exception of the decline of Oman (10 scores down), progress in the rest of the countries remains marginal, the best of which was in Kuwait (9 scores up).
The index results illustrate the need of the GCC countries to expand frameworks for political participation and decision-making, especially strengthening and expanding the powers of elected councils, improving election laws, promoting equal citizenship and ensuring freedom of opinion and expression and the safety of individuals engaged in political work. It is also noted that Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates tend to tighten restrictions on civil society institutions, while the margin available in the rest of the countries – except for Kuwait – remains little.
The formation of political organisations, the availability of dissenting tools and ensuring the safety of practitioners represent serious challenges in all GCC countries. In addition, the monopoly of ruling families on the authority to appoint governments and senior positions in the security and military institutions and the judiciary reduces the ability of citizens to choose their representatives in the executive authorities. Furthermore, the powers of oversight, accountability and inquiry in the legislative authorities are often prohibited or restricted.
Oman represents a unique model in promoting a climate of equal citizenship and proportional representation of its groups and minorities. On the other hand, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain adopt discriminatory policies and unequitable representation with regard to the right of political participation in legislative and municipal council elections for their citizens. These policies are based on barriers and controls defined by the laws of nationality, exercise of political rights and organisation of elections. These laws make the issue of equal citizenship a very important file.
The index results state that the senior, leadership and sensitive positions in the majority of the GCC countries are almost monopolised by members of the ruling families and the tribes/families close to them, which results in the presence of marginalised minorities or underrepresented groups in parallel with their numbers in society. Qatar is characterised by a high permeability of its citizens to access these positions. While Oman declined (8 scores) due to the increasing appointments of members of the ruling family to senior positions, Bahrain advanced (7 scores) after reducing the number of ministers from the ruling family.
Except for Saudi Arabia, which advanced (4 scores), the rest of the countries did not achieve any significant improvement in creating an environment that promotes freedom of opinion and expression or that combats hate speech and incitement to violence. Moreover, the levels of societal participation in independent monitoring of the performance and spending of state institutions are limited.
Results of the Political Participation Index in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCCPPI) indicate that the majority of Gulf countries have achieved positive progress in empowering women and youth, and the United Arab Emirates, which adopts a serious and distinguished policy in empowering women, leads this scale for the third year in a row.
Bahrain continued its leadership in securing stable and effective residency and guaranteeing the rights of foreign communities and expatriate workers. In addition, the rest of the countries achieved slight improvement. However, the freedom of trade union work and participation in municipal elections are still prohibited or restricted.
State of Kuwait brief results
Kuwait advanced (9 scores) and maintained the first rank in the GCC political participation index, with a score of 534, exceeding the 500-score barrier out of the index’s total score (1,000).
Results indicate an improvement in Kuwait’s performance on the Political Organisations scale (5 scores), the Gender Balance and Youth Engagement scale (4 scores), and the Transparency scale (4 scores), and declined on the General Elections scale with a loss of 4 scores.
Kuwait ranked first on the Political Organisations scale for the first time, and continued to lead the Arab Gulf countries on 4 other scales: Constitutional Life, General Elections, Transparency, and Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Nevertheless, low scores were reported on the Political Organisations and Foreign Communities scales, with significant challenges emerging with regard to the stability and efficiency of the work of the Legislative Council (National Assembly), the legislation of the work of political parties, the resolution of the Bidoon (stateless) issue, the policies of discrimination among citizens with regard to accessing senior positions and political participation in the elections, and ensuring stable and effective residence of foreign and expatriate workers in the country.
State of Qatar brief results
Despite the slight progress (6 scores) in the total index scores, Qatar moved up to the second rank, registering 453 scores to exceed the Sultanate of Oman by 14 scores difference. This improvement comes with the holding of the Shura Council elections.
Qatar has maintained its lead of the Arab Gulf countries in the Access to Leadership and Sensitive Positionsscale, and the state performance was promising in the Constitutional Life scale (33 out of 50 scores) and the Gender Equivalence and Youth Engagement scale (58 out of 75 scores). Qatar declined for the second year in a row on the Political Organisations scale (two scores) and the Freedom of Opinion and Expression scale (3 scores), due to the issuance of severe judgments against participants in protests against the laws on citizenship and election. Qatar also reported low scores on the Transparency and Political Organisationsscales.
Sultanate of Oman brief results
The Sultanate of Oman declined (10 scores) out of the total index scores and fell down to the third rank at (439 out of 1,000 scores) ahead of Bahrain by one score difference. The State performance is still disappointing on the Political Organisations scale (4 out of 150 scores) and the General Elections scale (35 out of 150 scores).
Oman topped the Representation of Groups and Minorities scale (83 out of 100 scores) for the third year in a row, relying on government policies that guarantee equality among its citizens and the proportional representation of the various society components. Oman ranked the second among Arab Gulf countries on Foreign Communities scale (54 out of 75 scores).
Oman declined (8 scores) on the Access to Leadership and Sensitive Positions scale due to the increasing appointments of the ruling family members in the highest and sensitive positions. Nevertheless, Oman is still at an advanced rank on this scale. The State also reported a slight decline in the Freedom of Opinion and Expression scale (two scores).
Kingdom of Bahrain brief results
Bahrain witnessed a slight improvement (6 scores) and continued in the fourth rank by reporting (438 scores) out of the total index scores.
Bahrain reported its best progress on the Access to Leadership and Sensitive Positions scale (7 scores), since the representation of the members of the ruling family in the Council of Ministers has remarkably declined. However, it remained at the bottom of this scale, where the largest decline (8 scores) was on the Civil Society Institutions scale, as a result of imposing more restrictions and obstacles on the activities, membership and independence of the institutions.
Bahrain has advanced in a limited manner on the Representation of Groups and Minorities scale (3 scores), Gender Equivalence and Youth Engagement scale (two scores) and Freedom of Opinion and Expression scale (two scores). Bahrain continued to lead the Civil Society Institutions scale (71 out of 100 scores), and the Foreign Communities scale (60 out of 75 scores) by ensuring stable and effective residence of foreign communities as well as their representation by trade union.
Bahrain ranked low among index countries on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression scale (24 out of 150 scores).
The United Arab Emirates brief results
The UAE ranked fifth among the Arab Gulf countries by 320 scores, as it added (two scores) to its outcome compared to the results of last year.
The UAE maintained the top rank on the Gender Equivalence and Youth Engagement scale (68 out of 75 scores), due to the continuation of government policies and special procedures to ensure a balanced representation of Emirati women and the youth group in various state institutions, as well as on Representation of Groups and Minorities scale (50 out of 100 scores) where it ranked second with Qatar. It also reported a better performance on the Foreign Communities scale with an increase of 6 scores. The UAE maintained a “zero” mark on the Political Organisations scale and low results on the General Elections and Civil Society Institutions scales. It also ranked last among Arab Gulf countries on the Transparency scale.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brief results
Saudi Arabia has made slight progress (6 scores) compared to the results of the previous year, but remained at last rank among the Arab Gulf countries, reporting 233 out of 1,000 scores.
Saudi Arabia witnessed progress on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression scale (4 scales) according to the improvement of the State actions to combat hate speech and incitement to violence, yet its results continued disappointing (25 of 150 scores). Saudi Arabia also advanced on the Women’s Empowerment and Youth Engagement scale (3 scores), as the pace of empowerment of women is obviously noticed as one of the fastest progressions of reform. The results of Saudi Arabia also advanced on the Foreign Communities scale (two scores).
Saudi Arabia declined (3 scores) on the General Elections scale, as the Government did not specify the date of the elections of the new session of municipal council elections. The State remained with a “zero” mark on the Political Organisations scale, and reported low cores on the Constitutional Life and Transparency scales.
What is the the Political Participation Index?
The PPI is an annual overview and scientific monitoring of the degree of political, social and cultural participation in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
This index carries significance for being the first specialised research publication concerned with measuring the degree of “political participation” in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The uniqueness of the index is that it combines all conceptual contexts (academic, international agreements and covenants, knowledge and practical experiences), and the specifics, conditions of evolution and structure of governance systems in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The index attempts to answer a major question pertaining to the extent and proportion of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ engagement of their citizens politically, and the consequent desire and ability of citizens themselves, individuals and groups, to participate in decision-making and influence the state’s policies, legislation, and in all aspects of political and social life in their states.
The Gulf House for Studies and Publishing would like to thank all researchers who contributed to this research, focused workshops, index research and design, and the review and auditing processes. We also thank the sponsor and supporter, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – the United States.