Queen Beatrix has arrived in Abu Dhabi for a two-day state visit to the United Arab Emirates and a subsequent trip to Oman.
The Queen is being accompanied by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Máxima, and a delegation of business leaders. The visit follows an invitation from UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The state visit proper begins on Sunday. It will be the Queen’s fiftieth state visit since she was crowned in 1980.
On Tuesday, the Queen and her entourage will travel on to Oman at the invitation of Sultan Qaboos. A prior state visit, planned in March, was called off in view of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations and the violent crackdown by Oman’s authorities. The Dutch parliament cancelled the state visit after two demonstrators died in clashes with Omani security forces in February. Dutch MPs did not want the state visit to be seen as endorsing the regime. In a surprise move, Queen Beatrix travelled to Oman after all, arguing her tip had been downgraded to a private visit.
Sultan Qaboos is Oman’s head of state, prime minister, defence minister, foreign minister and the head of the armed forces. The country has no legal political parties.
The UAE is a federation of seven absolute monarchies. The Federal National Council consists of 40 members drawn from all the emirates. Half are appointed by the emirates’ rulers, and the other half are indirectly elected to serve two-year terms.The first indirect elections took place in 2006.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide