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Pictures | Wed Dec 19, 2012 | 9:19am EST

Arab Spring energizes Gulf's stateless

Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of his fellow stateless people in the United Arab Emirates, he was well aware he was risking something most activists were not - his home. After two months in jail for what he said was his human rights activism and campaigning for the stateless, he was given a choice: life in jail or deportation. Abdul Khaleq's expulsion is a rare measure taken against stateless residents in the UAE. But his story is indicative of the plight of all bidoon, an Arabic word meaning "without", tens of thousands without citizenship under strict nationality laws in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, where citizens enjoy generous welfare benefits. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang/Files

Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of his fellow...more

Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, speaks to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of his fellow stateless people in the United Arab Emirates, he was well aware he was risking something most activists were not - his home. After two months in jail for what he said was his human rights activism and campaigning for the stateless, he was given a choice: life in jail or deportation. Abdul Khaleq's expulsion is a rare measure taken against stateless residents in the UAE. But his story is indicative of the plight of all bidoon, an Arabic word meaning "without", tens of thousands without citizenship under strict nationality laws in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, where citizens enjoy generous welfare benefits. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang/Files
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A Kuwait Special Forces officer removes a stateless protester after a rally in Kuwait's Tiama district in this May 1, 2012 file photo. The United Nations estimates that Saudi Arabia has some 70,000 stateless and Kuwait has 93,000. It has no figure for the UAE but activists estimate their numbers at between 10,000 and 50,000. UAE officials say the number is less than 5,000. Because they lack basic documents, many bidoons, an Arabic word meaning "without", in the Gulf are unable to own a house or a car and are limited to work only in the private sector with low pay while their children cannot attend public schools. Many live in poverty. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Hani Abdullah/Files

A Kuwait Special Forces officer removes a stateless protester after a rally in Kuwait's Tiama district in this May 1, 2012 file photo. The United Nations estimates that Saudi Arabia has some 70,000 stateless and Kuwait has 93,000. It has no figure...more

A Kuwait Special Forces officer removes a stateless protester after a rally in Kuwait's Tiama district in this May 1, 2012 file photo. The United Nations estimates that Saudi Arabia has some 70,000 stateless and Kuwait has 93,000. It has no figure for the UAE but activists estimate their numbers at between 10,000 and 50,000. UAE officials say the number is less than 5,000. Because they lack basic documents, many bidoons, an Arabic word meaning "without", in the Gulf are unable to own a house or a car and are limited to work only in the private sector with low pay while their children cannot attend public schools. Many live in poverty. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Hani Abdullah/Files
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Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, shows his passport to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of his fellow stateless people in the United Arab Emirates, he was well aware he was risking something most activists were not - his home. After two months in jail for what he said was his human rights activism and campaigning for the stateless, he was given a choice: life in jail or deportation. Abdul Khaleq's expulsion is a rare measure taken against stateless residents in the UAE. But his story is indicative of the plight of all bidoon, an Arabic word meaning "without", tens of thousands without citizenship under strict nationality laws in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, where citizens enjoy generous welfare benefits. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang/Files

Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, shows his passport to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of...more

Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a stateless rights activist from UAE, shows his passport to Reuters during an interview in Bangkok after being deported to Thailand in this July 17, 2012 file photo. When Ahmed Abdul Khaleq started campaigning for the rights of his fellow stateless people in the United Arab Emirates, he was well aware he was risking something most activists were not - his home. After two months in jail for what he said was his human rights activism and campaigning for the stateless, he was given a choice: life in jail or deportation. Abdul Khaleq's expulsion is a rare measure taken against stateless residents in the UAE. But his story is indicative of the plight of all bidoon, an Arabic word meaning "without", tens of thousands without citizenship under strict nationality laws in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, where citizens enjoy generous welfare benefits. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang/Files
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Stateless Arabs demanding citizenship protest in Kuwait's Tiama district May 1, 2012. Kuwaiti riot police used batons and armoured trucks to disperse a group of about 200 stateless protesters, known in Arabic as "bidoon" and numbering up to 180,000 people, the latest rally by descendants of mainly desert nomads seeking improved rights in the oil-exporting Gulf state. Picture taken May 1, 2012. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Hani Abdullah

Stateless Arabs demanding citizenship protest in Kuwait's Tiama district May 1, 2012. Kuwaiti riot police used batons and armoured trucks to disperse a group of about 200 stateless protesters, known in Arabic as "bidoon" and numbering up to 180,000...more

Stateless Arabs demanding citizenship protest in Kuwait's Tiama district May 1, 2012. Kuwaiti riot police used batons and armoured trucks to disperse a group of about 200 stateless protesters, known in Arabic as "bidoon" and numbering up to 180,000 people, the latest rally by descendants of mainly desert nomads seeking improved rights in the oil-exporting Gulf state. Picture taken May 1, 2012. To match Feature GULF-STATELESS/ REUTERS/Hani Abdullah
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