The Guggenheim Museum and the Louvre also have outposts in Abu Dhabi, and they too have stayed mum.

MCM

Repression in the United Arab Emirates
Anna Louie Sussman

For the past four months, hundreds of thousands of voices demanding variations on a theme—democracy, human rights, an end to torture, a stop to corruption—have echoed from Morocco to Yemen, each with its own local variation. In the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven small semi-autonomous sheikdoms, that voice sounded a little hoarse. More like a whisper, you might say. And then it went silent.

Since April 8 the Emirati government has arrested five prominent Emiratis—activists, bloggers and an academic—for signing a petition calling for reform, and thrown them in jail, where they remain to this day. They are being held without charges, although they are in contact with their families and lawyers.

The five detainees are among over 160 professionals who on March 9 submitted what has to be one of the gentlest pleas for political reform in recent history, which included a request to make the Federal National Council, the UAE’s powerless legislative body, at least open to universal contestation. On February 24 President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced he wasdoubling the pool of eligible voters, to around 12,000. That is still less than 2 percent of the Emirati population.

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