Marjorie in Qatar (qatar) wrote,
Marjorie in Qatar
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A rose by any other name

Saudi is a kingdom; Oman is a sultanate; the UAE is a federation of emirates. Qatar has an emir, but if you call it an emirate most people will say, "No, it's a state," which is odd because "state" is not a type of government.

Is there any real difference between an kingdom, a sultanate, and an emirate? Or are these just different words for the same thing? Obviously they have different etymologies, but is there any difference in the powers of their rulers?

I always thought there was some actual difference between the three forms of government, but here's how the CIA World Factbook defines them:
  • monarchy: "a government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right"
  • sultanate: "similar to a monarchy, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a sultan (the head of a Muslim state)"
  • emirate: "similar to a monarchy or sultanate, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state)."
That makes it sound like these are just different words for the same thing. But if that's the case, why doesn't the CIA just classify them all as monarchies? After all it classifies Thailand as a monarchy and not as a "Ratcha Anachak," so why use the local terms for the Arab versions?
Tags: politics
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