I am the state and the state is me

The UAE between the rule of law and the rule of the president

15 Sep 2021
The UAE between the rule of law and the rule of the president

On September 13 of each year, the world celebrates International Law Day, to emphasize the role of law in state-building and to recognize its importance to society. The way countries and legislative institutions around the world celebrate this day varies, but they too choose an important theme of law or the legal system to highlight. 
There is no doubt that an international day dedicated to law reflects the great importance that law has acquired in today's world and also sheds more light on the concept of the rule of law, which has become one of the most important criteria to measure States' respect for rights and freedoms. 
The concept of the rule of law is a concept of Western origin that refers to the constitutional state in which the law applies to all without exception. The constitution must contain limitations that prevent arbitrary government practices. 
Unfortunately, the rule of law or the rule of law in the UAE is only a buzzword for the media because the UAE still lacks most of the elements of a rule of law. In fact, the word law is one of the terms that most provoke and anger the UAE authorities. 
worth to mention two examples to point out the reality of law in the UAE. The first: when 133 Emirati citizens wrote a petition to the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on March 3, 2011, calling on him to make constitutional and legal amendments that would lead to the separation of the three powers and establish an independent legislative authority, the UAE authorities responded by arresting them and charging them with treason. 
Among those arrested by the UAE authorities are 7 citizens from the elite legal and judicial community in the Arab world and the UAE, they are: Judge Khamis Al-Sam Al-Zeyoudi , Judge Ahmed Al-Zaabi, Judge Muhammad Al-Abdouli, Dr. Hadef Al-Owais, Dr. Muhammad Al-Roken, lawyer Salem Hamdoun Al-Shehhi, lawyer Ali Al-Kindi. Noting that they are still languishing in Emirati prisons for more than 9 years. 
The second position is that of the director of the security department of the Al-Wathba prison, Major Ibrahim Al-Hammadi, who responded to the detainees' demand to implement the law by saying, "We do not have a law, we put it in the drawer and closed it, you do what we say, you have no right to anything, from Whoever does not follow orders will have his head cut off". 
Perhaps Al Hammadi's words sum up the reality of law in the United Arab Emirates and reflect the UAE authorities' view of law. The UAE authorities consider themselves to be the law. Therefore, they do not act according to the laws, but it is the laws that act according to their will. 
These positions reflect not only the practice of the Emirati authorities, but also the structure of the UAE state, which lacks the foundations of the rule of law in its literal sense. The president combines in his hands the three powers, executive, legislative and judicial, with no checks and balances on him. 
According to the UAE Constitution, the president is the one who appoints the members of the government (the executive authority ), which makes laws (the legislative) and who appoints judges (the judicial). Moreover, in the Emirates, there is no parliament but an advisory body called "National Council". Although it is advisory and has no supervisory or legislative powers, half of the members of the body are appointed. 
Therefore, the Emirati president can easily repeat the famous phrase of the Frenchman King Louis XIV : "I am the state and the state is me."