The Middle East in Transition
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The Middle East in Transition

The Centrality of Citizenship

Edited by Nils A. Butenschøn and Roel Meijer

The violent transitions that have dominated developments since the Arab Uprisings demonstrate deep-seated divisions in the conceptions of state authority and citizen rights and responsibilities. Analysing the Middle East through the lens of the ‘citizenship approach’, this book argues that the current diversity of crisis in the region can be ascribed primarily to the crisis in the relations between state and citizen. The volume includes theoretical discussions and case studies, and covers both Arab and non-Arab countries.
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Chapter 5: Enduring ‘contested’ citizenship in the Gulf Cooperation Council

Zahra Babar


Serving as a means of determining who belongs to the nation, and equally importantly who does not belong, citizenship is an integral part of modern state-citizen relations. Citizenship in the GCC states, however, has long been viewed as largely devoid of political meaning. Instead, it is often seen through a socio-economic lens that sees state-citizen relations as solely based on resource rents exchanged for citizens’ allegiance, despite the limited political rights accrued to them. This chapter will challenge this perception and argue that negotiations of citizenship arrangement in Gulf nations have always been political and a site of contestation for regimes and residents alike. In support of this argument, the chapter will examine the recent surge in citizenship revocations in the aftermath of the 2011 Uprisings, which served to revitalise and strengthen old arenas of contestation over the politics of belonging to the nation.

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