Projecting an image of being politically and culturally on the cutting edge, the UAE carefully picks its battles. Participation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq, has projected the Emirates as a military force to be reckoned with. Soccer is the Emirates' next target.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's efforts to lend legitimacy to parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring have gotten off to a murky start with the appointment of a controversial, reportedly United Arab Emirates-backed human rights NGO as one of five foreign election monitors.
With the absence of labor rights in the Gulf under fire as a result of Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, Gulf states are likely to take heart from a recent study that asserts that authoritarian regimes in the oil-rich Middle East and China have contributed more to the eradication of global inequality than Western nations.
Education today clearly ranks as a top priority for Saudi Arabia. Early childhood education has also received government support and mainstream attention in recent years, due in part to two Saudi visionaries. Ilham Al-Dakheel and Samia Kazi have been a powerful force in helping to gain recognition of the importance of early education.