Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the United Arab Emirates, which is a hereditary monarchy and forbids the establishment of political parties, is an "advanced democracy."
In an interview with Sky News Arabia, the leading television channel in the UAE, Netanyahu was asked how the normalization deal between the UAE and Israel will serve regional peace. He answered: "Vastly. The deal connects the UAE with Israel; both of them are advanced democracies and their societies are advanced." Netanyahu uploaded a video of the interview to his Twitter account, and deleted it shortly after.
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Freedom House, a U.S. research group that studies democracy and political freedom throughout the world, rates the UAE as "not free" and gives it a score of 17 out of 100. On political rights, the state scored five out of 40. In comparison, Iran also scored 17 out of 100, Russia scored 20, China 10 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo 18.
The UAE is a federation of seven emirates, ruled by an Islamic monarchy. The country holds limited elections for its Federal National Council, but political parties are banned and the leadership is not elected. All legislative, executive and judicial authorities are in the hands of the emirates' seven leaders, whose positions are hereditary. The seven make up the Federal Supreme Council, which chooses the president and his vice president from among themselves. The president appoints a prime minister and the ministerial cabinet.
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The rights of the country's citizens, and of its foreign residents – who make up the majority of the population – are severely limited. Sexual relations outside of marriage and alcohol consumption are crimes that are liable to be punished by whipping. Freedom of expression is limited and criticizing the government or the royal family is outlawed. Abortion is forbidden by law, women must have the approval of a male guardian in order to remarry, and can be jailed if they claim they were raped, due to the ban on non-marital sex.