The Gulf monarchies have faced down different opposition movements over the years, but these have not been broad-based and represented only narrow sections of the indigenous populations. Moreover, the Gulf monarchies have generally been strong and confident enough to placate or sideline any opposition before it has gained too much traction. More recently, however, powerful opposition movements have emerged that have proved less easy to contain, not least because they are making the most of potent new modernising forces that have been less easy for governments to co-opt. As a result, an increasing number of regular Gulf nationals have become emboldened enough to protest against and, often for the first time, openly question their rulers. Since 2011, spurred on by developments elsewhere in the region, these opponents and critics have presented the most serious challenges yet to the ruling families.
Christopher Davidson, Durham University, Reader in Middle East Politics