Qatar: The Context of a Hydrocarbon-Funded Social Contract

  • Steven Wright


The influence of civil society on the governance of Qatar’s natural gas sector appears to be growing, but it still remains marginal. According to this chapter, the primary civil-society actors are found in academia, think-tanks and NGOs, followed by companies engaged in joint ventures. The mass media have a lesser bearing, but within the social media, the government has shown itself responsive to societal concerns about how resources are managed and allocated. Political parties and trade unions are currently illegal in Qatar, but their part in influencing how revenues are used may change in the future if the constitution is fully implemented and an elected legislative chamber is established. Especially pertinent is the role of extended tribal family networks, whose concerns or opinions on the perceived mismanagement of oil and gas revenues are expressed through informal channels. The marginal role of civil society is changing, however, as awareness about how energy wealth is spent has grown. Access to statistics, social media and government as well as non-governmental reports has fostered greater civil awareness and feedback on petroleum revenue expenditure. A notable feature of the way that Qatar’s petroleum revenues have been used is the considerable government investment in promoting the country’s international standing, by hosting international events, establishing subsidiaries of well-known Western academic institutions and creating the Al Jazeera media network. Thus, it seems paradoxical that Qatari civil society is still little engaged in the formulation of petroleum policy.


Qatar Natural resources Oil Gas Petroleum governance Civil society Democratization Al Jazeera Status Decision-making 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Wright
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Humanities and Social SciencesHamad bin Khalifa UniversityDohaQatar
  2. 2.College of Humanities and Social SciencesDohaQatar

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