The six Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have a disproportionate importance in the global economic system because of their enormous reserves of oil and gas.
Matthew Gray provides a brief yet comprehensive profile of these six Gulf states and their modern political economy. Focusing on the postwar period, particularly the last 20 years, he examines the key factors that have shaped these nations' economies and enabled them to bypass typical development pathways.
The book explores how the combination of rentierism, state ownership of key firms and assets, and the use of patron-client networks to distribute favours and opportunities, has created a very effective strategy for regime maintenance and durability. However, the book also outlines how cooptive bargains with society have given the Gulf states a unique set of economic problems, including low levels of innovation and entrepreneurship, reliance on foreign workers and an inflated public sector. With the global demand for hydrocarbons set to decline, the need for the Gulf states to diversify their economies, expand the private sector, and build a more diverse taxation base has become ever more pressing. The book explains the importance of these challenges, which, along with those of geography, regional security, rapidly growing populations, and sectarianism are likely to test the Gulf's new generation of leaders.