The United Arab Emirates recently celebrated its 44th birthday with the usual celebrations, performances and rallies. The country certainly has much to be proud of – since its founding in 1971, it has achieved a near-miraculous rise in virtually all human development indicators.
But the United Arab Emirates has peaked. The social, political and economic model that initially worked for the UAE so well carries within it the seeds of its own demise. The model of a rentier state in which citizens are a tiny privileged minority is internally coherent, but dangerously unsustainable, and is moving towards an inevitable moment of reckoning. The coming years, I predict, will see this distressing reality become far more urgently manifest.