The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Oil and Politics in the Gulf: Kuwait and Qatar

  • Jill Crystal
Reference work entry


The discovery of oil in the early 20th century had a dramatic effect on the formation and destruction of political coalitions and state institutions in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In particular, it fundamentally restructured the relationship between the rulers of the Gulf’s sheikhdoms and the merchants, the business elite of that era, shifting political power away from the merchants and into the hands of the rulers and ruling families. In the process, oil dramatically restructured politics and economics, creating new alliances and institutions that would continue to shape politics into the 21st century. The details of this initial arrangement in Kuwait and Qatar are developed in Crystal (1995).


Kuwait Oil Persian Gulf Politics Qatar 

JEL Classifications

L710 O130 Q350 


The discovery of oil in the early 20th century had a dramatic effect on the formation and destruction of political coalitions and state institutions in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In particular, it fundamentally restructured the relationship between the rulers of the Gulf’s sheikhdoms and the merchants, the business elite of that era, shifting political power away from the merchants and into the hands of the rulers and ruling families. In the process, oil dramatically restructured politics and economics, creating new alliances and institutions that would continue to shape politics into the 21st century. The details of this initial arrangement in Kuwait and Qatar are developed in Crystal (1995).

In the pre-oil era, the relationship between rulers and merchants in Kuwait and Qatar was similar. In both countries, politics was characterised by a coalition between the ruler and those merchant families who controlled the lucrative pearl diving industry and long-distance commodity trade and who provided rulers with the revenues (and sometimes the manpower) they needed to rule the country. Until oil was discovered in the 1930s, rulers in both countries (neither of which possessed significant non-oil resources), shared a dependence on the local merchants for revenues. In Kuwait, the merchants were also the country’s main employers into the 1950s (Tetreault 2000, p. 39). This was almost certainly the case in Qatar as well, where pearling and trade dominated the economy, accompanied by seasonal nomadic pastoralism. This dependence of the rulers gave merchants economic influence and with it a degree of political influence, exercised informally through social institutions, among them majlis (the regular weekly meetings that allowed merchants to air their opinions and grievances with the rulers), inter-marriages between dominant merchant families and the ruler’s family, and, in Kuwait’s case, proximity (the families of the rulers and merchants all lived within the walls of the old city). The ruler’s family, while enjoying a high social rank, did not function as a ruling family – that is, as an institution through which the ruler designed and implemented policy.

In the interwar period, however, the political economy of the Gulf changed dramatically. The merchants’ position was weakened by the crash of the pearl market following the invention of Japanese cultured pearls and then by the Great Depression. At about the same time, however, oil was discovered in the Gulf. In Kuwait the Amir signed a concession agreement in 1934 with the Kuwait Oil Company (an Anglo-American consortium) to search for oil, which was discovered later in 1938. In Qatar the ruler signed a concession agreement with the Anglo- Persian Oil Company (a predecessor of British Petroleum) in 1935; oil was also discovered there in 1938. However, in both countries the oil wells were capped during the Second World War, and it was not until the late 1940s that oil came to dominate the economy.

Oil and Politics

Oil forged a new relationship between rulers and merchants. Since they came from outside the country and went directly from the transnational oil companies to the ruler, and later to the state, oil revenues freed rulers from their historical economic (and hence political) dependence on established economic elites. Unlike rulers in other states, forced by the need for revenues to either crush economic elites or absorb them into the political process, Gulf rulers could simply buy out those elites using the newly found oil resources.

To do so they worked out a new arrangement with the merchants: a trade of wealth for access to formal power. The sheer volume of revenues prompted the merchants to re-examine their core interests and coalesce around them. With oil, the merchants – the group that had historically pressed its claims most effectively on the state – now renounced their claim to participate in formal decision-making. In exchange, the rulers guaranteed them a continuing share of oil revenues. While the energy sector remained government-owned and operated, steps were taken to ensure that a thriving private sector, dominated by the older merchants, would handle most of the rest of the economy. This was accomplished through a variety of measures. In Kuwait, one important mechanism was a government land acquisition programme which purchased land from merchants at above-market prices, then rented or sold the land back to the merchants at below-market prices (Moore 2004, p. 43). From the 1940s to the early 1970s roughly a quarter of Kuwait’s oil revenues went to this programme (Khouja and Sadler 1979, pp. 44–5).

In Qatar, another government programme was the public purchase (and then manumission) of slaves, owned by wealthy families (Crystal 1995, p. 143), creating support from both the former slave owners and former slaves. In both countries, other measures included an array of pro-business policies: no taxes, free movement of capital and preferential government contracts to merchant families, as well as direct loans (initially in a period when credit was scarce) and subsidies. In the early years, the agency system was particularly beneficial to merchants in both countries. This system required foreign investors to take local partners. No product or service could be sold locally without a local agent, who received a percentage of the profit. Typically these local agents were members of the established merchant families. At first an informal requirement, agency agreements were later written into commercial laws. In the early boom years, when the infrastructures of these countries were built, great fortunes were made by men who sometimes did little more than serve as a silent local partner. The ruling family agreed (for the most part) to stay, at least visibly, out of the private sector (although this was honoured more in Kuwait than in Qatar).

The merchants, in turn, agreed to stay out of formal politics. Where, before oil, economic elites entered politics to protect their economic interests, after oil, merchants left formal politics to preserve their economic interests. Oil revenues thus preserved the apparent continuity at the top of the political system, retaining a monarchical form of government, but actually altered politics considerably by forcing the breakdown of the old ruling coalition between the rulers and merchants. Economic elites withdrew from politics, but did not disappear as a social force. The differences in the relative strengths of both the rulers and merchants in Kuwait and Qatar before oil affected the nature of the transformation. In Kuwait, the merchants retained a particularly strong sense of corporate identity, one which was reinforced by institutions of marriage and majlis, and hence an ability to re-enter politics should the Amir renege on his initial arrangement. Their economic autonomy was institutionalised in such bodies as the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), established in 1961 (Moore 2004).

In Qatar, the merchants formed a smaller, yet less cohesive group, one that was also more divided along sectarian lines. While in Kuwait, most of the dominant merchant families were Sunni, in Qatar, some of the wealthiest families, such as the al-Fardan, Jaidah and Darwish were Shia families of Iranian origin (Kamrava 2012, p. 64). The ruling family, on the other hand, was far larger relative to the national population and far more quarrelsome than its Kuwaiti counterparts. Its differences frequently spilled into the public view and were exacerbated then (as today) by Saudi meddling. While the rulers bought the merchants out of politics, as they did in Kuwait, in the years following the discovery of oil, the Qatari merchants’ strength was further diminished by the emergence of new economic elites created by and more dependent on the rulers. In Kuwait, the dominant merchant families were largely Sunni, and a similar process occurred among the Shia merchant families, who were bypassed by the Amir in favour of newer Shia business elites, more dependent on the state. These families were also used to secure the middle class Shia support (Azoulay 2013). The Qatari merchants’ strength was also undercut by the more frequent direct intrusion of the Qatari ruling family itself into the ownership of businesses and real estate, both commercial and residential. A far smaller number of old business families, such as al-Mana and the Darwish, rebuilt themselves as wealthy families in the modern economy, but they did so by remaining close to the ruling family. The existence of a much larger and unruly ruling family, which each Amir struggled to control, also left Qatar less stable domestically than Kuwait.

By the end of the 20th century, some important changes in the structure of the local market had occurred. Some privately owned family businesses became publicly held corporations. Agency monopolies were eroded when Kuwait (1995) and Qatar (1996) joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). But by then the merchants had already established their domination of the local market and the business community did not voice objections to joining the WTO (Seznek 2007, p. 75). Both governments were now also anxious to attract foreign direct investment in order to create jobs for their growing and increasingly youthful national population. Merchants in both Kuwait and Qatar also became active participants in a larger regional market, expanding into other Gulf Cooperation Council states’ markets and facing competition at home from businesses based in other GCC states, largely from what Hanieh (2011) calls khaleeji [Gulf] capital, dominated by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In Kuwait and Qatar, however, local businesses maintained the advantage they had always enjoyed because these were never simply about money, but embedded in larger coalitional arrangements that underpinned the basic power structure of the state. If anyone suffered from the additional competition, it was the newer merchants. This historical local advantage insulated the Qatari and Kuwait private sector somewhat from the khaleeji capital that Hanieh explores. Consequently, Qatar and Kuwait’s private sector did not suffer as greatly from the fiscal crisis of 2008 as did the other GCC states.

In Kuwait, the merchants were a more cohesive group of wealthy families, with eight principal families at their core, who retained their social connections even in the absence of the pearl and commodity trade industries that had given them their initial wealth. Even as the economy changed, the old merchant families continued to dominate the leading non-oil sectors and influential economic institutions such as the KCCI. While new entrepreneurs also emerged in Kuwait in the following decades, they were dwarfed by the size and strength of the established business community and were not as dependent on the state. The result in Kuwait was thus a precarious balance: economic elites withdrew from formal politics, but did not disappear as a social force. In Qatar, the old families retained their connections to the rulers along with the economic benefits that followed, but failed to cohere as thoroughly as a social force.

Creating New Alliances

In both countries the rulers also formed new ties with the national population, which began to receive economic benefits directly (in the form of grants, loans, subsidised housing and utilities, and free education and healthcare) and indirectly (through the creation of a vast welfare state and through massive state employment). All nationals also benefited from a generally tax-free system (although some fees for services were later added). A once politically active labour force was removed from politics by the importation of a new and tightly restricted working class, brought in for temporary work from other countries, initially from elsewhere in the Arab world and later from the subcontinent. The indigenous working class, once politically quite active, was transformed into a more comfortable and docile middle class, largely loyal to the rulers or, at least, politically quiescent. Foreign labour also benefitted the merchants by providing them with an inexpensive and pliant labour force. While workers were sometimes protected by labour law, in practice, any labour action would result in the deportation of the activists. These policies explain in part why the ruling families of both states were able to withstand and survive the revolutionary wave of Arab nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s and, later, the Arab Spring.

The governments’ distributive policies in turn inadvertently triggered the creation of large state bureaucracies: distributive states that emerged from the imperative to expend rather than extract revenues. In the 1960s and especially the 1970s, governments in both Kuwait and Qatar were able to create massive welfare states which provided both services and state employment to the majority of its nationals. As these bureaucracies grew, they became both bloated and less susceptible to control through ruling kinship networks, developing into independent power centres. In Kuwait especially, the merchants used these state institutions to re-enter politics through the back door of the bureaucracy, placing their now educated sons (and later daughters) in key posts where they could create administrative fiefdoms and use state resources to rebuild patron–client ties. In Kuwait, some pockets of efficiency nonetheless emerged in the government. In Qatar, state fiefdoms also arose, although these were typically dominated by ruling family members, who took over key state institutions as they were created. Even today a few key family members dominate the core state institutions. Only in more recent years, under Sheikh Hamad (r. 1995–2013), has the ruler in Qatar been able to circumvent the cumbersome bureaucracies to create more effective policy implementation by establishing separate laws and procedures for industrial zones, tourism zones and state-owned enterprises. The cost, however, has been fragmentation and redundancy (Hertog 2010a, p. 268). In keeping with historical patterns, the government has made a clear effort to incorporate established merchants, along with technocrats, into the top management positions of these SOEs (Kamrava 2013, p. 149).

To counter the merchants’ power, the rulers in Kuwait extended not only economic benefits but also political benefits to the national population by creating an elected National Assembly following independence in 1961. The ruler’s goal was to ensure the continued political marginalisation of the merchants by empowering groups outside the old economic elite (notably bedouins) and enticing others to shift their historical clientelistic ties from the merchants to the rulers. Tribes were settled in subsidised housing in the outer circles of the capital in the 1950s and given employment in the police and military. Tribal deputies were then enticed into the National Assembly with electoral laws that favoured their districts, further weakening the political power of the merchants, some of whom entered parliament as liberals in its early years. The decision to offset any potential power of the merchants in parliament was shaped, in part, by the memory of an earlier merchant-led uprising, the Majlis Movement, in 1938, which had resulted in the election by the leading merchant families of a legislative assembly that directly challenged the Amir’s authority. This act followed the failure of the Amir to share his initial oil royalties with the population in any significant way. Qatar’s Amir at the time, Sheikh Abdallah bin Jassim al-Thani, behaved in a similar way, treating oil revenues as personal income. There, however, because of the weakness of the merchant class and the size of the royal family, opposition came largely from his relatives, and the Amir was forced to relent to their demands by granting larger family allowances. (Fromherz 2012, p. 131). Well into the 20th century the government of Qatar was spending one-quarter of its income on royal family allowances to placate the various factions (Gray 2013).

Following independence, one goal of Kuwait’s Amirs was to preempt any such merchant-led assembly by filling the new National Assembly with middle class supporters. Counter-intuitively, the expansion of popular input into decision-making appeared as a result of efforts by rulers to centralise power. In exchange for financial guarantees, merchants willingly opted out of the political process. Exclusionary and inclusionary policies, rather than being opposites, were in fact two sides of the same coin. Political liberalisation was a top-down strategy, a calculated and limited tactical move by the ruler to maintain power. That it was popular and occurred in the presence of some pressure from below should not obscure this fact.

Over time new groups were incorporated into this Assembly (and the bureaucracy): Shias, Sunni liberals, Sunni Islamists and finally women (granted suffrage in 2005), allowing the ruler to play groups off against each other to maintain power. But even as its social base became more diverse, the underlying structure and purpose of the National Assembly endured. And while the Assembly could sometimes block government initiatives, the government could counter by balancing supporters and opponents, and, when that failed, by calling for new elections. Unlike most parliaments, Kuwait’s National Assembly also allowed unelected cabinet ministers to vote, giving the ruler an advantage even in that body.

The decision to create a parliament had costs. Some were political: the Assembly has been successful in blocking government initiatives and even forcing the resignation of some government ministers. Popular rentierism, as Yom (2011) describes it, has also had economic costs. Public expectations of government largesse have grown over time until the parliament has acquired what Hertog (2010b) describes as a ‘fiscally reckless character’, passing costly increases in state salaries and direct subsidies, maintaining bloated bureaucracies and inhibiting the formation of effective state-owned enterprises (SOEs), notably in Kuwait’s case by blocking Project Kuwait, a government-favoured SOE designed to develop new oil fields in partnership with transnational oil companies. This cost, however, remains bearable for the government because the business community has stood behind the rulers through economic and political crises ranging from the collapse of the Suq al-Manakh stock market in 1982 to the 1990 Iraqi invasion and the Arab Spring.

Qatar’s rulers did not create a National Assembly, because the weaker merchant class did not pose as great a potential political challenge, and so did not require the rulers to construct an alternate centre of power. However, Qatar did begin to hold regular elections for a Municipal Council with limited authority in 1999. The government of Qatar has promised to hold elections for a national body for years, but actual elections have been repeatedly postponed. The decision to hold municipal elections came about partly in response to external pressure and was part of a regional movement in the same period in all the Gulf Cooperation Council states to increase political participation, typically by introducing partially elected consultative councils. As in Kuwait, political liberalisation, although more limited, was a tactical move by the ruler to contain reform rather than a serious step towards a more democratic state. While Qatar, like Kuwait, has a generous welfare state, which its tremendous hydrocarbon revenues and small population allow, the absence of any countervailing institution comparable to Kuwait’s National Assembly has meant that the Qatari government has been much more successful in developing state-owned enterprises, in turn endowing it with the financial ability to placate everyone: the contentious ruling family, the merchants (old and new) and the new national middle class.

The arrangement with the merchants was one of many policies the rulers implemented to maintain domestic peace in the new environment created by oil revenues. Rulers also formed new and independent ties with their own family members. Political kinship, usually considered a traditional vestige, was in fact a new response to the demands of the oil-induced bureaucratic state. Before oil, the rulers’ families played a more modest role in governing, one they shared with the merchants. After oil, rulers built their families into ruling institutions, ones that came to control the most important cabinet posts, or sovereign ministries (e.g., defence, interior, foreign affairs) and other key institutions such as the ruler’s diwan (advisory council) and the position of prime minister, a system Michael Herb has characterised as dynastic monarchism (Herb 1999). Members of the ruling family, both those who held formal office and the many who did not, also came to participate in ruling family councils, held outside public view, which handle disputes within the ruling family and potentially embarrassing public misbehaviour of ruling family members, as well as making key decisions on the most important domestic and foreign policy issues. The ruling family as an institution is thus a relatively new phenomenon, emerging after and as a result of the explosion of oil revenues. It has been reinforced by shifting marriage patterns, notably an increase in ruling family endogamy (particularly for women), which has replaced historical intermarriage with merchant family members.

In Kuwait, where the al-Sabah family had achieved political ascendancy in the early 18th century, the ruling family emerged as a more cohesive and powerful force. In Qatar, where the relatively larger al-Thani family rose to power much later, in the mid-19th century (1868), and only with the help of the British, the ruling family remained less cohesive and the ruler less powerful. (The al-Sabah family relied on the British to maintain independence from the Ottoman Empire, but they came to power on their own.) In Qatar, members of the al-Thani family dominated the sovereign ministries and state-owned enterprises, as well as many private firms. There, however, some family members also carved out their own niches in the state bureaucracy, resistant to the ruler’s oversight. In Qatar the process of reining in the ruling family following the emergence of an oil economy took decades and two bloodless coups (in 1972 and 1995). A degree of centralised authority over the ruling family was ultimately achieved by Sheikh Hamad, who, after seizing power in 1995, introduced a series of economic reforms that turned Qatar into a major gas producer, giving it one of the highest per capita GNPs in the world. His economic success was coupled with political decisions that helped centralise rule. He included 13 ruling family members in his initial cabinet (Gray 2013, p. 61). He moved very quickly to name a son as heir apparent (thus pre-empting family squabbling over a favourite issue). He forced out of office or otherwise marginalised family members he suspected of closer ties to his deposed father, replacing them with younger and more loyal members of the family (Kamrava 2013, p. 117). His insistence on making decisions previously taken by other family members, especially in the economic realm, gave him a larger degree of control over the family, especially after he survived an attempted family coup in 2011 (Gray 2013, p. 60). In 2003 he created a new constitution which institutionalised a decision he had announced soon after his accession, limiting succession to the Amir’s son, rather than to any al-Thani family member. It took longer, but in the end Sheikh Hamad created a system of dynastic monarchism similar to Kuwait’s. Ruling family members dominated the government, but their selection was now based more on loyalty and competence than on the influence of their family factions (Gray 2013, p. 62).

The system was strong enough in both countries to endure the crash of oil prices in the mid-1980s and, in the case of Kuwait, the Iraqi invasion of 1990. Paying for the war to liberate Kuwait depleted much of the state’s assets built up in previous years. But with the return of independence, and higher oil prices, the old system resumed. In the 1990s the Amir deepened his relationship with the old merchant elite by bringing more merchant technocrats into cabinet and government positions (Yom 2011, p. 236). In Kuwait the business community has remained largely outside the National Assembly, yet supportive of the democratic process because of the checks that body offers on corruption and any autocratic tendencies in the ruling family.

The Arab Spring

The relationship between rulers and merchants established in the post-oil era explains in some key ways the evolution of the Arab Spring in Kuwait and Qatar. The Arab Spring swept through both countries, but did not openly challenge, let alone overthrow, the leaders. In Qatar the protests were almost non-existent. In Kuwait, the protests, while larger, simply amplified ongoing complaints against the government. In both countries the wave of protest was significantly weaker than those seen in other countries in the region. This was not the result of political quiescence. Historically, both countries, especially Qatar, had seen large demonstrations, most notably during the era of Arab nationalism. The quieter response to the Arab Spring was, in part, the consequence of the presence of oil wealth, but also a result of the experience that the rulers had gained, initially through dealing with the merchants, in quickly and effectively deploying those revenues to stave off or contain opposition. Even in Qatar, where the Arab Spring was barely a whisper, the government preemptively increased public sector salaries by 120% in September 2011 (Abdulla 2014, p. 44). In Kuwait, the government responded to the nightly protests by handing out 1,000 Kuwait dinars ($3,000) to each Kuwaiti citizen and granting a year of food subsidies (Abdulla 2014, p. 47). The Arab Spring demonstrated that oil wealth, carefully and quickly spent, can protect governments from the kinds of protests that brought down leaders elsewhere in the region, without requiring resort to force (Gause 2013; Yom and Gause 2012). This last point is worth emphasising. While much of the rentier literature has focused on the ability of oil-producing states to stave off demands for democratisation, the Kuwaiti case demonstrated from the early days that some political participation might be useful even to rulers in a rentier state. What oil revenues also provide is the ability to deal with the opposition that does arise without resorting to force, by giving rulers the option of allocating oil revenues to co-opt potential and real opposition.

However, oil revenues, even when carefully distributed, do not eliminate political demands completely. While oil revenues have bought the state a degree of distance from society, as Gray (2013, p. 9), points out, no state is fully autonomous and thus needs to maintain a degree of legitimacy, or at least popular support. As the state’s scope grew over the decades, and the system consolidated, the distance between the ruler and the population in both states also grew. As social services became the norm, citizens came to view them as legitimate claims on the government rather than evidence of the rulers’ generosity. Historically, rulers in Kuwait and Qatar had responded to problems of maintaining popular loyalty in part with a stress on normative socialisation, directing state revenues to the development of a strong national identity, including socialisation through public education. National dress, by custom barred to non-nationals, also guaranteed privileged treatment. Even granting suffrage was a way of reinforcing national identity, rewarding citizens and heightening the distinction between nationals and expatriates. This was particularly the case in Kuwait (Tetreault 2000).

Both states, but especially Qatar, also devoted significant effort to creating a new civic myth linking the pre-oil past to a modern national identity that transcends lines of class, tribe and sect. Particularly in Qatar, with a weaker initial sense of national identity, the government devoted considerable resources to building museums and heritage sites and to creating an idealised Qatar of the imagination which privileged the narratives of the ruling family and the desert (where the rulers originated) over the maritime identity (in which the merchants played the key roles) that had actually dominated the economy historically. Qatar began with a small national museum, built around the original Amiri palace of Sheikh Abdallah bin Jassim al-Thani who ruled Qatar in the early 20th century (the museum is presently being expanded and reconstructed), then followed with several more museums and heritage sites, notably Souq Waqif, a market rebuilt on the site of an old market and designed to convey a vision of traditional Qatar. Kuwait’s heritage museums and sites, while not as extensive, likewise celebrate a similar vision of Kuwait’s history, as do holidays such as Kuwait’s Yawm al-Bahr, a holiday linking symbols and activities of Kuwait’s economic and social past with patriotic songs and a sense of modern nationalism (Abou-Samra 2014, p. 185). (On the development of government-sponsored cultural heritage in the Gulf, see Exell and Rico 2014.)

When the Arab Spring arrived, muted political demands arose, although notably largely not from the business community. The pacts of the early oil era remained intact. In neither country did the opposition call for the fall of the regime; nor did it call for a change in the coalitional arrangements on which that regime rested. The ruling family’s right to rule was not challenged; rather people used the Arab Spring to protest issues of pre-existing concern such as corruption, education and the role of Islam in society. In Qatar, political demands were relatively few and were deflected by distributing more oil and (especially) gas revenues, initially in the form of public sector raises, reaching nearly all Qataris (Gray 2013, p. 235). The ruler also preemptively removed any potential demand for a change in leadership from a largely youthful population by abdicating in favour of his son Sheikh Tamim (born in 1980) in 2013, an indication of the extent to which he had overcome much of the historical ruling family factionalism.

In Kuwait protest was greater, owing largely to the existence of a National Assembly as a natural focal point for expressing grievances. But the core political disagreements now expressed again predated the Arab Spring, emanating from political confrontations between the Assembly and Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, dating back to his somewhat complicated succession in 2006 (Tetreault 2006). The Arab Spring only amplified the power struggle between the parliament and the ruling family which had continued since that succession. The National Assembly site now became the focal point for opposition. Demonstrations, some with as many as 50,000 protesters, emerged, culminating in the storming of parliament in November 2011, which prompted the prime minister (facing corruption accusations) to resign. The opposition, however, remained largely loyal: although some called for gentle moves towards a constitutional monarchy, there were no public calls for the fall of the regime. As in Qatar, the government’s response was also, by regional standards, restrained.


The sources of capital remain centrally important to understanding politics in Kuwait and Qatar, as well as the other Arab Gulf states. However, the mechanisms through which these revenues enter the economy are equally important. The creation of new alliances, in this case between rulers and merchants, in the early days of oil set in place patterns in politics that continue to shape political events today. The arrangements struck in the early days of oil have proven quite resilient. They help explain the continued existence of powerful ruling families, the extent of wealth and power of the business community, and the vehicles they choose to exercise that power. Just as these arrangements allowed superficially anachronistic monarchs to survive the regional upheavals that swept away other monarchs in the Arab nationalist era of the 1950s and 1960s, they have also enabled the rulers in Qatar and Kuwait to survive the Arab Spring.

See Also


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill Crystal
    • 1
  1. 1.